Travel bug takes flight for young Jessie
WHILE most girls her age have boys on the brain, globetrotting is Jessie Gretener's true love.
The Mountain Creek High School student is back home after a three-month solo trip through Europe and America, which she described as "absolutely incredible".
"I did lots of things I would never have thought of doing," the 15-year-old said.
From sampling pasta in Italy to using her black-belt skills to teach Swiss students taekwondo, Jessie enjoyed many experiences but rated welcoming in New Year's Eve at a rooftop party in Vienna as a stand-out.
"When they celebrate over there, the government doesn't organise fireworks, everyone buys their own," she said.
"It was insane, it was constantly going … it was so incredibly loud."
Although happy to be reunited with family and friends, she admitted she was struggling to come back to reality.
"It's very strange because I haven't moved on to another country or another place like I was doing when I was overseas."
She said she knew she wanted to travel from the age of seven and worked hard to make her first trip a reality, including taking on extra hours as a sales assistant to save money.
And she has reaped the rewards, with her three-month itinerary including Switzerland, London, Paris, Germany, Berlin, Italy, Austria and New York.
Jessie's mum Kylie said the trip had helped her daughter shrug off her shyness.
"She's grown up a lot … she's still the same old Jess but she definitely has a new confidence, she's a bit louder and crazier and more spontaneous," she said.
Jessie has already started saving again and is ready to get back on a plane at a moment's notice.
"I'm keen to head off in the next hour if I could," Jessie said.