The Traveler’s Guide to Hitchhiking the Gold Coast

It was finally that time– the time that students worldwide wait for in anticipation. Well, it was the time that students worldwide wait for in anticipation, if you don’t include summer break. Okay, not including summer break and not including winter break, it is by far the most highly anticipated vacation of the academic year. And because things work quite differently in the southern hemisphere, it had come much earlier than expected. It was spring break.

I had made plans to go to the Gold Coast of Australia with two of our very own Spiders also studying abroad in Melbourne. We were staying at a place called Backpackers in Paradise, located in a neighborhood called Surfer’s Paradise, which happened to be walking distance from the beach. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?  If a picture’s worth 1000 words, and this was picture perfect, how many words was Backpackers in Paradise worth? If you answered anything other than zero, unfortunately, you are incorrect.

Contrary to popular belief, modern forms of currency do not include payment in the forms of words or letters. After drifting away from the gold standard in the post World War II era, currency took the form of bills, commonly referred to as notes, and coins. Additionally, if expressions were measured in words, then speechless would equal zero. And speechless is what we were when we realized we would be living and sharing a bathroom with eleven other people, not including the three of us.

If you have never seen fourteen people share a bathroom together, it is nothing less than amazing. It requires both timing that is unheard of and an adjusting of sleep schedules that would equal forcing Dracula, a seven-year-old child, and a caterpillar in a cocoon to sleep at the same time. Surprisingly enough, we managed to rarely, if ever, have problems with the bathroom. Regrettably, we were not as fortunate in consolidating sleep schedules.

Regardless, the Gold Coast managed to live up to its name. The weather was incredible, people were at the beach everyday, and club promoters and their bargain deals had to be subdued with a two meter pole (preferably wooden, to mitigate permanent damage) with all the discounts and free coupons they offered. Additionally, the hostel we stayed at seemed to get new people every day. Students participating in the University Games (which I will explain in a later blog) came in dozens. How could this dream-like paradise possibly go wrong?

The second day at the beach, when we were well-rested enough to properly understand the grave mistake we had just made, we understood the grave mistake we had just made. We looked at one another in horror as we realized that no one had a football. The core of all beach-like activity was not present. We would be deprived of the pure foundation of waterside entertainment, American football. We quickly checked our backup, plan-B option. No Frisbee. We were doomed.

Then, as if it were a gift sent from above, we saw it. There, before us, was an American football in Australia. Long story short, we not only got to use the football, but we also made some new friends. Our day was a success, and those to come would be filled with panic and crisis. But, more on that next time.

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