Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Open Love Letter to Australia

It’s been over a week since I left my second home in Brisbane and I can’t believe I’ve already started to resume my normal life back here in America. It was a LONG trip back to New York of 26 hours and felt so strange to be back on American soil, but for the time being I’m happy to be home. It’s been a week of old firsts — first sleep in my bed after 5 months, first trip back to my favorite restaurant {Outback of course…so I still have my love of Oz in my heart}, first time seeing my family since February, first time purchasing alcohol legally in America since I turned 21 overseas, etc. It’s been really nice to do all of the things that I once loved before I lived in Australia, but I’ve also noticed some differences that I was blind to before I left the states.

The US will always be my first love because it’s where I grew up and learned everything about life for 20 years. I’ve strangely fallen in love with my country even more ever since spending 5 months outside of it and in another country. I think it’s because I’ve had time to appreciate the things I once took for granted, and also because I’ve gotten to see how another country works on a daily basis — meaning that nowhere in the world (at least from my knowledge and experience) is exactly like the United States. On the other hand, Australia has made its way into a special spot in my heart that I never thought was possible. While the US is my first love, Australia is my second and the one that has impacted my life so profoundly in not even half a year.

America has taught me what I know…Australia has shown me who I am.

I wish there were words to express what Australia has been to me and how my study abroad experience has affected my life. Australia is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had because it challenged me every single day. It threw the unexpected at me, made me adapt to change, showed me the hearts of people from all over the world, gave me confidence. But most importantly, Australia made me feel beautiful and loved. Australia is this amazing and unique nation that takes newcomers into its arms and shows them that they are beautiful in their own way.

I’ve always been a bit self conscious and the US fueled the fire into that self concept that I have because of the way society is run. The people can be judgmental and harsh if one does not fit into the tiny cookie cutter copy that is most accepted by the public. Australia completely shattered that mindset and showed me that different is not only acceptable but it’s something to cherish. I could feel comfortable in my own skin anywhere in Brisbane from wandering around the riverfront to walking into a club. I never once felt like I had to put on the mask that I constantly had worn each day in America because I wasn’t afraid of being judged for being me.

As for reverse culture shock, I can’t say that it has set in yet and I can’t be sure that it actually will. Maybe it’ll take a couple more weeks or even months to hit me or maybe it’s something I won’t experience. While I am acknowledging the differences between life in the US and Australia, it hasn’t been difficult to adjust back to the life I once knew. Maybe it’s because Australia taught me to love myself despite what others or US society thinks, so whatever is thrown my way now I’m prepared for.

I went to Australia looking to change it up from my regular life attending college in America, learn about Australian culture, & have fun in the warm weather. I never knew that I would get all of that plus so much more. I gained a second family through IFSA-Butler Brisbane that I now know I would never want to live without, and I am eternally grateful. I conquered my fears of being in a foreign place with foreign people and especially of flying over water (for 14 hours to be exact). I’ve learned that it’s okay not to take life so seriously 100% of the time and that it’s acceptable to just spend an arvo {aussie lingo: afternoon} kicking it with the kangaroos instead of working on 3 weeks worth of assessment.

I’m so excited for the life changes I have ahead of me and I have 5 months in Australia to thank for allowing me to realize what I truly want in life. My experience inspired me and those that I’ve met along the way at UQ in Brisbane have cemented the phrase that it’s never too late for anything. It’s never too late to take life into your own two hands and start living for yourself instead of for the rest of the world. So, even though I’m feeling home sweet America…I’m still thinking about Australia.

It’s bittersweet to be on day 7 of waking up without hearing the announcer at the South Bank train station through my window talking about train arrivals and departures. It’s bittersweet to be back in a small town full of hills and houses without being able to walk a few minutes down to walk along the Brisbane river. It’s bittersweet to be back with old friends and separated from the friends that experienced the last 5 months with me. It’s all so bittersweet.

But, I’m not saying goodbye to Australia because I know that one day I’ll travel back to the nation that gave me the strength to love myself first. I may have closed one chapter of Australia in my life, but I’m overly positive that I will have another further down the line in my book.

Dear Australia,

I miss your laid back culture, your endless sunny days, your love of life, your warm beaches…even your public transportation. Don’t count me out yet…I’ll see you again soon.

To everyone that has followed along throughout my incredible journey– thank you for all your support and love the past 5 months. I never could’ve gotten where I am now without all of you. And lastly, to IFSA-Butler & the Australian staff, thank you for giving me the most amazing experience that I could ever imagine. You exceeded my expectations in every way and I would 10000 times do it all over again if I could.

As an American..my heart physically belongs as a citizen to the US, but somehow along the way I left a piece of myself in Australia, and for that I will never again be the same.

Cheers,

The American that will forever bleed a little bit of Australian wherever she goes

xoxo

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