As the departure date for my trip halfway across the world, to Sydney, Australia, approaches T-9 days, the reality of my journey has begun to resonate with me. It feels like just yesterday I was an eager freshman visiting the Wake Forest University Study Abroad office discussing the opportunity. I was already fortunate enough to have explored Europe on two separate occasions, and as I narrowed down my choices I couldn’t get the hundreds of iconic pictures of Australian beaches, wildlife, and cities pinned to my “Bucket List” Pinterest board out of my head. I immediately knew I couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience ” the land down under” for myself.
The choice to study abroad at the University of Sydney through IFSA-Butler’s program was easy for me, but my parents were a little less inclined to jump on board right away. I’m the first in my family do lots of things. The first to attend college, the first to have left the country. It’s safe to say my desire to reach out of my comfort zone is unique for my household. That being said, after begging to go on a trip to Europe at 14 years old, again at 18, and then deciding to go to college out-of-state, 800 miles away from home, I don’t think my parents were necessarily surprised when I mentioned my longing to study abroad. However, for two claustrophobic, airplane-fearing parents the idea of me being a 22 hour plane ride away was unsettling. This being said though, my parents have consistently given unparalleled support, understanding, and love. So, alongside the resourceful and informative IFSA-Butler staff, I was able to settle their nerves and convince them this trip would be the most empowering, eye-opening, and exciting learning experience for me.
Despite my confidence in reassuring my parents, I admittedly surrender to some nerves of my own. Coming from the suburban Naples community I have yet to live in a big city. It wasn’t until this past year and my visit to New York did I learn the concept of a “block” and that walking to dinner was a thing. Moreover, adjusting to the Australian school system will be challenging since there is a greater emphasis on self-teaching. It will take all of my will-power to pass up a beach day for reading and annotating the history of fundamentalism and new religions. But, that is the whole point of studying abroad, right? Plus I’m admittedly intrigued to challenge myself with a new curriculum.
Despite obvious nerves and concerns, none of these worries can dampen how thrilled I am for this experience. So for now while my dad worries about me learning self-defense skills, my mom worries about me permanently moving there, and my brother worries about how to deal with my parents and their worrying, I’m just going to worry about how to pack for four and a half months and two different seasons in one suitcase.