Walking Left of Culture Shock

As I sit at a table outside of a small coffee shop by my apartment, eating a typical Australian “brekkie”, it strikes me how much more comfortable I feel in this country after living here slightly less than a week.

When I landed at the airport at 6:00 AM on May 23rd, I had a brief, (okay, lengthy), moment of panic.  I had no idea how to go through customs by myself, I didn’t know how to navigate their train system, and had only a vague idea of where I was trying to go.  Despite having grown up traveling, landing in country 10,000 miles away from home was a completely new experience.

Even after I successfully navigated the train line and made it to my apartment, the challenges of being in a new country didn’t cease.  I had to adjust to walking on the left-hand side instead of the right.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been bumped, jostled, or downright yelled at for dutifully sticking to the right side of an escalator as I would in the United States.  Other challenges have been larger and more difficult to tackle.  It is quite difficult to go grocery shopping at stores you don’t recognize, with brands you don’t recognize.  It has taken some trial and error to land upon foods that will be staples while I’m here.

Thankfully, however, I have gotten to experience the twists and turns of a new country with roommates who have quickly become my friends. I live in a beautiful apartment building with seven other girls, one of whom I share a room with.  They are facing the same challenges I am, and we are able to both sympathize with and encourage one another.  We have already explored a number of places together ranging from Sydney Harbor to Bondi beach.

Despite having only been abroad less than a week, I can already tell that this will be a life-changing experience.  It is scary to be abroad without your family, friends, or any familiar comforts.  In my case, I’m seriously missing being able to run own the street for a Chipotle burrito when I need a pick-me-up.  But, being abroad teaches you to have confidence in yourself because despite all the challenges I have faced so far, there isn’t one that I haven’t been able to overcome. I can now hop a train or a bus to anywhere in the surrounding area, I have developed new favorite places to eat, and I can even remember to stand to the left, (most of the time, at least.)