I flew to Australia on a whim, with a loose plan and a handful of set flights. And somewhere between the wonderful people I met along the way, and the cities, ocean and mountains, it became the best trip of my life.

Everything I did there I did full on. I dove the Great Barrier Reef, I learned to surf at Bondi Beach, I immersed myself in the food and art scene in Melbourne, and I rode through the Blue Mountains on a motorcycle.

And it was epic. It was beyond epic, but what really made it was all the people I met along the way. See, I was traveling alone, but in those three weeks I never once felt alone. Everywhere I went, new friends welcomed me into their lives with open arms.

In Melbourne, from getting picked up from the airport by an old friend, Izzy, to dropped off by a new friend, Chloe, I was constantly laughing.

On the Great Barrier Reef, my dive buddy, Seth, quickly became the little brother I never had, and my roommate, Ciara, a beautiful Aussie mermaid who hopped out the ocean and onto the boat (I have yet to confirm that theory), reminded me how much inner power women who travel alone posses. The rest of the crew and passengers made every minute between the dive-eat-sleep-repeat an absolute pleasure.

In Cairns, the liveaboard crew hooked it up. Leighton gave me a place to call home for a day and got me on my next bus, while Kim kept the Jäger train running through the night.

In Ayr and Townsville, Meri, a German schoolteacher who I met at a bus stop, kept me company. She made me dinner, dove a wreck with me, shared her stories and advice, and gave me a glimpse of my future self.

Between all the people he introduced me to in Sydney and making Bondi Beach feel like home, my friend Erik showed me how easily I could make the move to Australia one day. And of course, for giving me the most epic and unforgettable last day in Straya- I’ll always be grateful.

To the gypsies and the mermaids, and the divers and the motorbike riders. To everyone mentioned and unmentioned. To everyone who gave me a place to stay or gave me a ride, who fed me or clothed me, who bought me a drink or a coffee, who made me laugh or kept me company.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Know that wherever I am in the world, my home is your home, and I only hope that one day I can repay the favor.