PET crocodiles, no road rules and living in poverty was just part of everyday life for Lauren Bourke when she spent a month in East Timor.
In October this year, the 18-year-old from Maryvale jumped on a Boeing 747 bound for Dili where she volunteered her time teaching children in what is an impoverished country.
"Considering it's so close to Australia, it truly is worlds away," Lauren said.
As part of the Edmund Rice Mission Lauren worked five days a week in a small mountain village called Railaco Craic, about two hours drive from base in Dili, teaching everything from maths and science to art and drama.
She said the smiles on the childrens' faces and seeing them improve each day made it an experience she would never forget.
"It really puts everything in perspective and you begin to reflect on everything we have here," Lauren said.
"They were all so attentive and there is so much we can learn from them.
"They find so much joy in the smallest of things."
Lauren lived with two trainee teachers from the Australian Catholic University Brisbane and two Christian Brothers.
"It was good to have them there to be able to go home and speak English with and some parts of it were really challenging so to be able to share that was good," she said.
When told they had a pet in a concrete pit in the backyard of her house, the last thing Lauren expected to see was a crocodile swimming around the green murky water.
"We thought they were joking, but then one of the guys there showed us and we could not believe it," she said.
"It just show the magnitude of how different our lives are.
"You can't even begin to compare it to here - it's just a completely different world."
Before heading overseas, Lauren brushed up on her Portugese so she could teach in their native language and said she picked up some of the local slang while over there.
But one trip isn't enough for this young girl who's out to make a difference in the world.
"It just reinforced that I want to do so much more - I would love to go back to Timor," Lauren said.
She heads off to the University of Queensland next year to study a Bachelor of Speech Pathology and said she hoped her career would send her back to places like Timor to use her degree to help those who need it most.
"I really want to use my degree to do lots more work like that," she said.
"I think it's the most wonderful thing you can do and I sort of wish everyone would do it at least once.
"It's life changing."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.