Thursday, May 25, 2017

T-minus 40 days, 21 hours, 17 mins, 49 secs

As I sit at home on a rainy day, I am beginning to think about Australia. Some days I feel like I am ready to leave right now, and other days, I can't believe it is even happening. For years I have been telling people, "I want to study abroad in Australia during the fall semester of my junior year," but it is almost surreal that I have housing, a Visa, and flights all lined up. To be honest, it's surreal that I am already a junior in college.

The countdown in the title reflects the amount of time between now and the time I board a plane headed to Sydney from Los Angeles. Sitting just across from the aisle me will be my roommate and best friend, Leanne. Because I haven't seen her all summer, I am looking forward to leaning across the aisle to catch up about our summers and scheme for the months that lie ahead.

When we arrive in Australia, the fun will begin right away with a trip to Sydney, run by the company I used to book my housing. They have a non-stop itinerary that includes a Sydney Harbor Cruise, Botanical Gardens, the Blue Mountains, and Bondi Beach over the span of 4 days. In addition to getting to know Australia, I will also get to know other students who will be studying abroad as well! At the end of the trip, I will catch a plane to Brisbane.

Brisbane will be my home base for the next 5 months.

Brisbane, located in Queensland, is the third largest city in Australia, behind Sydney and Melbourne. Also known as the "Sunshine State," Queensland has a climate that is very similar to that of Florida!The duration of the my trip, from July to December, will be during the Australian winter and spring(since Australia's seasons are opposite of the United States' because they are located in the Southern Hemisphere). However, I still plan to hit the beaches as much as possible thanks to the fact that Brisbane has more sunny days per year than any other Australian capital city, with 283 sunny days per year!

Brisbane is also a hub for students all over the world because it has multiple universities, including Australian Catholic University, where I will be studying philosophy, theology, nutrition, and Australian literature starting at the end of July.

When I tell people I am studying abroad, they ask what led to me to this decision. Although I am not totally sure, I know I have been excited about this idea for a long time. I think my biggest influence was my mom. During her own college years, she studied in France and Switzerland. Although I didn't know her back then, I know that her experiences impact her even today. She started her college years as an Economics major, then added a French minor, and then eventually a French double major. To this day, she has never had a job that makes use of her economics major, relying solely on her French despite the fact that is the less "practical" major of the two.

I truly think that travel has the power to change your heart and your mind, which I have already experienced a little bit during my trips to Haiti. My decision to study abroad is about my wish to learn about another culture and develop myself. I have found, that the best way for me to learn is to experience hands-on. This way, my heart can attach sentiments to the ideas my brain is learning. I found this to be true in Haiti as I connected faces of the people that I count as friends with the issue of economic injustice and the goals of the Fair Trade Model. I think that by experiencing Australia's education system, environmental struggles, and culture in general, I will learn just as much by exploring Australia as I will in the lecture halls of ACU.

Having 10,000 miles and a 14 hour time difference between me and my family in Rochester, NY and friends in Erie, PA will be anything but easy. Of course, I'll have to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out) as my friends will enjoy an entire semester of making memories at Gannon without me, and my family will even celebrate Thanksgiving without me. However, I know that FOMO works both ways, and I may  never have another opportunity like this again. With that being said, I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me to make this happen and has supported my decision.

Life is short, and the world is wide, so here I go!

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