Studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity made up of all kinds of experiences. To study abroad is to venture out to the unknown, explore new cultures, people, places and experiences. The experiences one can capture while abroad will be memories that stay with you forever. As many would say, studying abroad changed my life.
It was the first week of September when I set off on my wonderful adventure. Sydney was a two-hour plane ride away and I could hardly wait to arrive. My parents were at the terminal waiting for my landing, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw them. I stepped off the aircraft to see my family cheering with open arms. We laughed, smiled, and were ecstatic to go see the site at the pier. Everyone always expresses how beautiful the Sydney Harbour Bridge is, so I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes!
We arrived where the cruise ships stood with the bridge in the distance. The rustic metal look stood out like a sore thumb. The site was too real to be true. The beauty was breathtaking as the lights shimmered against the water. My mom asked me if I was excited, and I couldn’t put into words how wonderful these first moments were. She asked me, “what’s the one thing I want to do in Sydney?” I said climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. She pointed to the top and said “Get Ready! We are climbing it tomorrow!”
This moment felt like a dream, my hands began to tremble. As a child, I watched the Mary-kate and Ashley movie Our Lips are Sealed and imagined one day being able to climb the bridge. Until this journey, when my dreams became a reality.
Every hour felt like a century, the climb was approaching closer and in just a little while we would be ascending the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We waited in the lobby, suited up for our adventure. The instructions were hard to understand and my
hands were trembling from the suspense. We were lined up, just waiting to take the first step. I remember my first few paces over the dark, faint water below not knowing what to think. People changed from clear, to miniscule, to no longer visible. The stairs got steeper, making it almost terrifying to keep my feet moving. The railing across the center wobbled as we passed.
My heart began to race and my adrenaline was kicking in; I no longer felt fear because the view was too amazing to miss.
The bridge was overwhelming but I wouldn’t second guess climbing it for a second. Seeing the view from
above was unlike anything I could imagine. The feeling was peaceful, seeing the city lights illuminating the sky and the view of the Opera House. It was an unbelievable vista; a truly a life-changing event.
After conquering the bridge, I was more than ready to begin my study abroad adventure and make this breathtaking country my home away from home. By climbing those stairs, I realized that living in another country is a once in a lifetime chance. If I don’t go out and meet new people, try new things, and live this experience to the fullest, I won’t be taking advantage of this dream. I couldn’t wait to step out of my comfort zone and discover what Australia had to offer. Whether it’s is culture, nature, architecture, or history, the feeling of being abroad cannot be put into words.
As Judith Thurman once said, “Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
Samantha Robinson is a student at the University of Tampa and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at Griffith University, Gold Coast, in 2013