I had been counting down the days since my arrival to Australia, and the day had finally come. It was the day my ‘mum’ (for the sake of sounding Australian) would take a flight half way across the world to join me in my adventures abroad and I couldn’t have been more excited. In fact, I was so excited that the feeling began to turn to stress. There was so much to show her and so little time! I wanted everything about her experience down under to be perfect. I knew it would be her only time visiting this unique and foreign country, so I wanted to put together an eventful and well-rounded itinerary, yet something that a 50 year-old woman on “vacation” could keep up with. So, here it is…

Gab and mom in Australia

Day 1: Let mum sleep

Although it was close to impossible to not attack mum with stories and vegemite tastings, I knew it was important to allow her to rest up before our activities began so she didn’t end up resenting me throughout the entire trip.

Day 2 to 5:  Cairns

Let the adventures begin! To suit both of our interests, Cairns in Northern Queensland was the perfect place for our mother daughter weekend excursion. I knew my mom would want to visit a warm and tropical destination during her stay, and I also wanted her to feel like she had traveled this far for a reason. What better way to soak up Australia’s unique surroundings than to visit two world heritage sites in the same location? During our stay, we took a sailboat out to the Great Barrier Reef with a tour group and learned to scuba dive for the first time and hiked through the oldest rainforest habitat in the world, the Daintree Rainforest. In between these tours we were also able to explore Port Douglass and the 4-mile beach, one of the top-ten nicest beaches in Australia; learnt to spear fish in the mangroves with aboriginals; and of course, catch some rays.

Diving the GBR

Day 6: Recover

This also seemed like a good day to go to classes and catch up on some work. Mum may be on vacation, but school still existed for me.

Day 7: Let’s Go Shopping

Having mum around was the perfect time to take advantage of all of the great shops Brisbane has to offer. Not only was I able to get those black Converse sneakers I had been eyeing down in the Universal Store, but mum also bought me some luxury pieces for my wardrobe such as a kangaroo leather bracelet and new sunglasses. Not to mention, the extra space in her luggage home was calling my name.

Day 8: Kangaroos!

It’s a rite of passage for visitors in Australia to put up a picture of themselves with a kangaroo on Facebook for people at home to gawk at. So, we did exactly that. Welcome to Australia, Mum!

Mom meets a kangaroo

Day 9: Wine and Food Tour of Brisbane

Did you know that Australia is consistently one of the top ten wine producing countries in the world? Coming from an Italian family with a passion for food and wine, it was hard to resist. Together, mum and I learned about pairing different types of wine with food while getting a private tour of the scenic countryside and mountains of Brisbane. I like to think mum is the best cook in the world, and I was right. She even beats the best of Brisbane. Maybe we should have skipped that trip and I could have gotten her to whip up her famous gravy and meatballs in my apartment instead.

Wine tasting

Day 10: Saying Goodbye

After countless luxurious meals, long stories and memorable pictures, mum and I came to the end of our journey together. Saying goodbye to her was more difficult than I expected. Although I was going to see her again in only a month’s time, it was ending the experience as a whole that was so hard to come to terms with. In the previous ten days I was able to experience Australia with someone I love by my side, and that was more special than all of my trips this semester put together. Mum left with a great appreciation for the people, the food, the culture and the nature of Australia, and that is all I could have asked for.

On the bright side, I was able to enjoy my American goodie bag mum had left behind for me. Heinz ketchup never tasted so good.

Gabrielle (Gab) Cerami is a student at the University of Maryland and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Gab is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Brisbane, Australia.