In this blog post, I wanted to reflect a little more about my own independent journey while abroad. Below I’ve listed the top 5 things that I’ve come to learn here that I would want other future study abroad students to know!
1. Just because it looks the same, doesn’t mean it is the same!
When I arrived in Sydney, the only stark differences I noticed were the accents and the driving/walking on the left! I thought that Australia was so similar to America; it’d be just like it! While the two countries do have a ton of similarities, it was naive to go in with that thought. The things that differentiate Australia from America are the things I’ve learned to seek out, in order to have that most cultural enriching experience possible. Everything from the Australian’s heavy use of sarcasm, to not tipping, to abbreviating their every possible word. Picking up on these many differences (big and small) and comparing them to my home country are what have made this experience most worthwhile. It’s no secret that Americans are extremely ethnocentric, but *surprise*, some of the new things and ways of life that I’ve encountered here are better than at home! The best piece of advice I can give is to just approach everything with an open mind.
When I say Australians abbreviate everything, I really mean it. Try to translate:
“Throw some tinnies in the esky for the Accadacca show this arvo!”
This means: “Throw some beers in the cooler for the AC/DC show this afternoon.” lol
2. You will get homesick.
I consider myself to be a pretty independent person, but sure enough, the first week abroad I felt that familiar feeling of homesickness that I’ve only experienced once as a child at Girl Scout camp and once freshman year of college. There is something about being completely independent in a country across the world that really makes you miss the familiar comforts of your hometown or your campus. Little did I know, my friends here all were going through the same thing! Talking about it, getting over that feeling, and truly being independent have helped me to grow so much in 2 short months. In a little over a year, I’ll be graduating college and living as a completely independent adult, and this was just a taste of what that’s going to be like.
3. Make friends with the locals!
While this one seems relatively obvious, it’s been harder than we assumed to meet locals! Not being in classes with Australians has made this slightly harder, but my friends and I quickly realized that we needed help to truly live like locals in our three short months. We’ve used every opportunity that we’ve had to meet the people who know this city and country the best. My coworkers told me cool new Sydney spots to check out, a man at a neighboring table at a restaurant gave us tips for our trip to Melbourne, and our roommate even went out on a date with someone who gave us hidden beach and hiking recommendations! This connections have helped us to have the best time here, and really live like Aussies.
4. This foreign country WILL feel like home.
When I first got here, it was a big adjustment to move to a new city, start a new job, go to a new school, and live in a new apartment with people I’ve never met. While it was great, I thought there was no way it would ever feel completely normal to live and work in a foreign country. It wasn’t until I left Sydney for a week for spring break that I realized how much it felt like home and how much I wanted to go back! It truly is a major adjustment, but you will get over that initial shock, it will be a new home away from home. Now when I leave Sydney for even a weekend trip, I miss the familiarity of Sydney as my “home base” similar to how I missed home when I got here. Once I came to appreciate how much this place felt like home, I also realized how little time I have to really appreciate this new home. I don’t know how I’m ever going to leave!
5. It will be the best semester of your life!
While my semester isn’t over yet, I’ve already learned, experienced, and grown far more than I ever have in a single semester. I’ve had the most incredible experiences that I can’t wait to bring home with me, I’ve gained an invaluable sense of independence, and I’ve developed a desire to travel for the rest of my life. I would 110% recommend a study abroad experience to every single student that can; the things you learn while abroad just simply can’t be taught in a classroom. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to have this opportunity, and it has definitely impacted me far more than I could have imagined.