August 26, 2015
Wrapping up in Tassie included diving the Great Barrier Reef, Climbing above Seals on the coast, taking finals, saying goodbye to some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and more adventures than I could have ever imagined. It was a place that once was overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown, but by the beginning of July, was just as hard as leaving my home in Montana. I’ve been back home for about a month and it still amazes me just how much I miss Australia. I grew to love the culture, the people, the food, and the continual kindness that everyone showed me. I was able to explore so much and took classes about subjects that were completely foreign to me. It was incredible in almost every aspect.
I think one of the hardest parts of going abroad is the idea of leaving this new home you’ve created without knowing when you’ll be back. Most times, we visit our homes on Christmas or maybe spring break. But, when your home is on the other side of the world, things are automatically more complicated. Coming home, while great in a different way, was one of the hardest parts of my study abroad experience. However, there is a Whinny the Pooh quote that sums up the entirety of this experience… “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?” This quote really hit home, because it’s exactly how my experience was. I looked forward to coming home, but never wanted to say goodbye. I created a new family and home. I’m so incredibly lucky to have an experience that changed my life in a completely positive way and I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
The term nomadic is generally associated with feeling lost or feeling like you don’t belong. This word has really resonated with me in the past few days, but not for the same reasons. Nomadic simply means not endemic, or not from one place. Maybe everyone with a bit of wanderlust doesn’t really belong in just one place. Maybe, being nomadic means that a little bit of you belongs everywhere.Hobart has been an incredible experience and after just a few weeks I could already feel it becoming home; but, just because Hobart feels like home doesn’t mean Missoula or Idaho Falls feels any less like home. I have become nomadic. A girl with homes in both hemispheres.
Study abroad has been the best decision I have made thus far. It provides so many opportunities for personal growth, new friendships, getting out of your comfort zone, and exposure to situations you never could have dreamed possible. I’ve been in Australia for two months now and I’ve fed kangaroos, chased a possum from my tent, made incredible friends, eaten so much Nutella, been judged for eating peanut butter, saw a platypus while white water rafting, gone to markets, and so much more. It’s amazing what happens when you have to find your own way in a country you’ve never been to. People assume that Australia is just like the states, and parts of it are, but overall it’s the experiences you have that make a place what it is.
I’m incredibly luck to have five pretty fantastic flatmates. As a group we have three Aussies, two Americans, and one girl from Holland. They have made my transition to Hobart so easy and I couldn’t have asked for better friends. We spend so much time laughing and watching stupid shows. Just in case you’re interested, Aussie TV is mostly the crappy TV shows that no one watches in the US. My flatmates joke that they are “the shows of my people.” We have definitely become quite and eclectic family of sorts.
The biggest changes I’ve seen while I’ve been here have been in myself. I have been forced to be less indecisive and to go do what I want to regardless of whether or not someone comes with me. The level of independence required to be somewhere alone is huge. It also makes you value your friends and family that much more. I no longer fear that the most important people in my life will disappear if I leave. The people that are most important will make an effort to stay no matter where you are. I’m almost as far away as I can be from the US and my best friends and I still talk. In this day and age, we can change nomadic to mean homes everywhere, because even if you aren’t around physically, it doesn’t mean you’re gone.
People generally have a preconceived idea of what Australia looks like.. beautiful beaches, people that are blonde and tan, kangaroos, dessert, tropical fish, and surfers. While it does offer a taste of that, I’ve found it to be so much more than that.
Exchange is harder than you’d think and everything is very overwhelming in your first few hours and can last for days. The people were so nice and immediately started helping me find my way around the train stations when I was very obviously lost. I was determined to come here and not come across as the “typical American” but was quickly informed that you stand on the left side of the escalator about an hour in… So even though my origins were apparently obvious I’ve started embracing it rather than trying to hide it. People immediately ask me about American politics and then follow with something about the Kardashians or other reality TV shows. I’ve quickly discovered that most Aussies know more about American pop culture than I do.
The more subtle parts of Australia have quickly become my favorite. Tasmania, is the “hidden gem of Australia.” It has more of a temperate climate and there is a wilderness mindset among most of the people. They love bush walks (hikes) and local food. The cities are full of history and beautiful parks. The diversity here is amazing and you meet people from all over the world every day. My flatmates alone are from the US, Holland, New South Whales, and Tasmania. It’s been a house full of mixed culture and the beginning of some amazing friendships.
I’ve been in Tassie for about three weeks and there is something about the atmosphere that makes it pretty impossible to be unhappy. My days are filled with classes about the local wilderness, good people, interesting food, different kinds of animals and experiences that I never expected in my wildest dreams. I knew there were Kangaroos, but I never expected to feed them out of my hand and hang out with a baby wombat. So far, Australia has surpassed even my highest expectations.
Darling Harbor, Sydney