Departing Australia was tearfully harder than I could have imagined. The friendships that I’ve made throughout my time in this wonderfully country have made leaving the beautiful place so difficult. As I awaited my boarding call, I glanced around for one last time at the environment I would be leaving behind. I saw children playing hide and go seek, parents talking animatedly with one another about their summer plans, and elderly travellers reading through itineraries. After five months in this country I have taken to the laid back easy going life style that so many Australians live by. Life does not need to be revolved around a 24 hour clock. It should be shaped by moments shared with friends and loved ones. I’ve realized that nothing should be taken for granted, because a time will come when you will have to leave it behind.
The culture shock that I experienced upon returning to America was greater than I thought it would be. I was first bombarded with advertisements and security details about my entrance to America. The line for foreign visitors was so long, a coffee cart could have gone through and made a few thousand dollars. Thankfully I went to the residence line and passed through within a few minutes. It truly amazes me the difficulties people go through to enter into the US. One of my mates from Australia applied for a three month visa to visit his girlfriend in Minnesota and he had to fly down to Sydney and have an interview with the customs control department to ensure he wouldn’t be staying long term in the country.
After I have spent so much time abroad and with foreigners, it has been difficult to hear so many American accents. The ways of life are much harder for me to fit back into as well. I began work at my old restaurant that I was with before I left, and the demands of immediate service have been difficult to get used to. I find myself attempting to hold onto the views and lifestyles of Australia while trying to merge back into the culture of America.
Studying abroad in Australia was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. After I graduate this coming May I plan on returning to the country and working for a year or two and travelling around the rest of the country. Life has been good to me, and I will take with me each day the memories that I have from the wonderful experience abroad.
Jaime Kamps-Duac is studying abroad at University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.