I’m Coming HomeMelbourne, Fall 2011
Well, the time has come.I have been home about a week and I can honestly say it hasn’t hit me yet. It probably won’t for a long time. So because I love lists and because I need to distract myself from the inevitable sadness that will hit me like a brick wall in the very near future I’m making a list of things I have learned while living in Australia.
1. Studying abroad is scary. And that’s ok. I spent my first week an emotional, home-sick, mess. That being said I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to be completely independent. I came here with literally zero roots, I knew no one here and I am so glad it ended up that way. I had to step outside my comfort zone and push myself. Which is always rewarding.
2. Do what you want to do. Look, I personally believe that if you’re in a new country you should go out and experience the culture. That being said, I know people here in Australia who were perfectly content spending their weekends drinking cheap wine and going to even cheaper bars. That’s not really my scene, but it’s what they wanted to do. So do what you want. You have a whole semester to work on yourself, to grow and mature through your experiences, so do what you want to do. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes.
Side note: People should do what makes them happy, so while it’s really easy to judge those same goon drinkers, why waste the energy on it? It’s not like they’re making you do it with them. You do what you want to do and that’s all that matters.
3. I have made the most eclectic, wonderful, group of friends here in Melbourne and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. First impressions are not always good impressions! Give everyone a chance. Some people will continue to be weird, but some people will come out of their shells and become such an integral piece of your experience. So (and this is something I’m pretty bad at) do not rely on your first impressions.
4. This is kind of silly and not nearly as personally revealing, but GO TO EVERY LOCAL MARKET YOU CAN. Yeah, I just wrote that in all caps, so I basically just yelled it. I say this because the coolest things I have gotten were at local markets. My count is up to six. My personal favorite was the Paddington market in Sydney, but all of the ones I have gone to have their own personality and you can always find some quality items if you look.
5. Along the lines of doing what you want to do, spend some time alone. It sounds depressing, but it’s true. Actually stop and spend time thinking about what you’re experiencing. It’s one thing to go through the motions, it’s a completely different thing to actually stop and think about what you’re doing. I remember swimming in a waterfall in Port Douglas and I made a point to float for a second and just think about where I was and what I was experiencing. And that was my favorite moment of that trip.
6. Speaking of trips, go travel. I have managed to visit Port Douglas, Canberra, Sydney and Tasmania. Each city was a unique and incredible experience. Just because you’re living in a city doesn’t mean you have to stay stationary. I bounced around a lot this semester and it was awesome.
7. You are never going to do everything you want to do. Hell there are restaurants in Melbourne that I wish I could do to, but I just didn’t get around to it, much less places to visit outside of Melbourne. I wanted to go to Uluru and the Great Ocean Road and Whitsunday Islands, but that was just not in the cards. But why dwell on it? The things I did do were amazing (I can cross scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef off of my bucket list), so why spend time thinking about all of the things I wish I had done when I can spend time thinking about all of the amazing things that I actually did do?
8. If you can go visit family for some strange reason, GO DO IT. Spending time with my Great Aunt Tenia and her husband Alexis was actually one of the most rewarding experiences. Not only did I get to be pampered for a couple of days, I got to know an amazing woman and learn about my family history. Everyone should do it if that can.
9. For all you IES study abroaders, GET TO KNOW YOUR ADVISERS. Liz and Chay are probably two of the coolest people I have gotten to know. So try and get to know your advisers. Chances are they’re pretty great people and that they will be a great support system. Seriously, spend time getting to know whoever your advisers may be.
8. I guess my last piece, it’s ok to be excited to come home. I’ve been dealing with a bit of guilt my last week here. I have some very strong roots back home, mainly my family and my boyfriend, so while I have been sad about leaving I have also been excited. A lot of my friends here have become absolutely smitten with the city and that is absolutely wonderful, but I just don’t feel as strongly. I will miss the people I have met here (just because we’re all from America doesn’t mean we live anywhere near each other) so that’s what I will really miss. That being said, I think it’s great that some of my friends here have become so attached to Melbourne. This city means something different to each of us which is what makes this experience so unique. We’re going through it together, but we’re all getting something different out of it. Australia has been wonderful, but I’m ready to see my family, pet me dog and give my boyfriend a kiss. And then head off on my next adventure.
So there ya go. I know this one is pretty long, but consider it a long post to match my long plane flight. Melbourne, thank you. I have made untouchable memories and met inspiring people and I am a better person for it
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