Before I left for this amazing experience I kept asking my friends that had already been abroad if the time spent away went by fast. I kept asking them that question because in my mind I wanted the time to go fast, I was afraid to leave my family and be on my own for so long, therefore I wanted time to fly so that I could be back home. Now that I am in the midst of my semester in Australia I want nothing more than for the time to slow down- I seriously do not know what the heck I was thinking!
I was terrified to leave, I was afraid of everything that was unknown. Which in this experience is EVERYTHING. Now that I am two months in, I looked back at what I was afraid of and giggle at myself for the pointless worries. I was worried about making friends, I was worried about cooking for myself (I am the furthest thing from domestic), I was worried about being homesick, you name it I was worried about it. Making friends was easier than anticipated; everyone is in the same boat. Being homesick is not as big of a problem as I thought it would be, there are times that I miss home but it more that I miss the feeling of being home- I have to pinch myself to be reminded that I am in Australia, and to make sure that I do not take a single second for granted here. Home will be there when I have to go back, and I will be bored out of my mind. The cooking on the other hand- that is STILL a problem I lucked out though, my roommate is a great cook and has been teaching me all she knows!
There are a few things that I did not anticipate having to worry about here in Australia though such as: crossing the street, walking on the right side of the sidewalk, getting used to using coins, classes and homework. When I signed up for the Australia program I thought ‘okay, nothing to worry about culture wise…’ boy was I wrong! Crossing the street is something that I do not think I will ever fully get used to in only four months time- I just never look the right way, it will be a miracle if I make it home alive- not from a shark attack, or jumping out of a plane, but crossing the darn street. In the United States we walk on the right side of the sidewalk because we drive on the right side of the road, well it is opposite here Down Under. They walk on the left side of the sidewalk and in the grocery store the left side of the aisle- needless to say I was in the way A LOT the first couple of weeks. Getting used to using coins is a big one too. They have two-dollar coins here in Australia. I always forget that they have those coins so they build up and make my bag extremely heavy, not to mention all of their coins here are rather large (except the two-dollar coin that is tiny!). Class. Class was a HUGE thing that I had to get used to and still getting used to. They do it where you go to Lecture and then Tutorial here. So, a lecture could be 150 some people and the ‘tut’ as they call it is really small- around 15 to 20 people.
I am quite glad that there are differences though, otherwise what would be the point of spending four months abroad. I have already accomplished many things while here but there is still so much more to accomplish. In my opinion four months isn’t enough time. I look around my room every day for the pause button. My heart is already breaking just THINKING about having to leave this amazing place. So, if I had to give one bit of advice- if you are on the fence, just do it. I could not imagine my life if I had not studied abroad, even with all of the fears that came with it!
Hillary Hubertz is studying abroad at University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.