Cheers to a year since I left for study abroad. I’d say life feels a bit different since the experience. I can’t pinpoint what exactly has changed, but what I do know that I can feel it. I mean, frankly, my 20-year-old self most likely felt the effects in my liver, which breathed a sigh of relief when I landed back on American soil. But I guess there some “deep” and “meaningful” repercussions too…
If I remember right, the humid cold in Minnesota was at a solid -20 degrees, and I was so ready to get away from it. Still, my haphazardly packed suitcases exemplified my procrastination to pack for a five-month excursion. I got my shit together in time to meet the plane on February 13th to land in Oz on the 15th, happily deeming Valentine’s Day 2013 as nonexistent (good riddance).
And so from there the adventure began. I’ll admit it; I was pretty lost and overwhelmed at first. I needed time to understand the flow of Mayur’s accent, embrace Sam’s shameless efforts of being incredibly seedy, and become accustomed to all of the random “sausage sizzle” days that the campus dished out to students. Needless to say, I embraced these things and many other “normalcies” very quickly.
On the trek across the Pacific Ocean to Brisbane that February, I made quite a few predictions of what the experience might entail; cookie cutter ideas like surfing a bunch, attempting the accent, and obviously having a few pints. These predictions were cute, and maybe a third of them came true. We all know the pints did.
Instead, I found myself submerged in a life with few worries and a whole cluster of hilarious and incomparable happenings. Slowly but surely I formed a family of crazy Aussies and internationals who each carried a completely unparalleled personality in their wake. If you had told me that I would be jumping into oceans at 3:00 am with Germans, climbing volcanoes in New Zealand, and partying with the hood rats of Education City for five months straight, my clueless self on that initial Virgin Australia flight would have been a little less sleep deprived and a bit more awake.
But actually, I’ve managed to take a few deeper things from my time down under. Intangible things. Living abroad for an extensive period of time presents situations where you have to decide if your weaknesses will hold you back or not. Among all of the experiences I had, that may be the biggest lesson I learned…besides learning how to hold my whiskey.
I think of everyone who took part in my journey frequently because you all had such a unique impact on me that still has ripple effects today. I cannot wait to see all of you again so that we can continue where we left off, because God knows my housemates miss the smell of burned toast, and I miss cheersing at happy hour on those warm Australian afternoons.