The One With All the Goodbyes

Tomorrow is my last full day in Australia. Where did the time go?? It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in this beautiful country for almost four months. The reality that I’m leaving hit me on the bus today when I realized that no longer will public transportation be my main method of traveling and that I might never travel that same bus route again.

Leaving is bittersweet. I’m very excited to go home and see my family and friends again, but at the same time, I’ll miss Australia. I’ll miss the blue skies, sunshine, and warmth (it’s been in the 70s and sunny…and it’s winter…how?! Indiana, please observe and learn from Australia). I’ll miss searching the trees for koalas and the river for sharks (Yes, even the river has sharks. I’m telling you, everything here can kill you). I’ll miss Australian accents and hearing people call each other “mate.” I’ll miss all the people I’ve met and all the friends I’ve made. I’ll even miss taking the bus and secretly laughing at everyone riding the bus wearing a winter coat, mittens, a scarf, a hat, and Uggs (It’s 70 degrees people. What are you doing with your lives?).

I’ve learned a lot here. I’ve been challenged in the way I think about things and the values I hold. It’s been such an interesting experience living and studying in a different country. Learning about and living in the Australian culture has been fascinating. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to come here.

But my time here is up for now. It’s time to return to America and continue my journey. I’m excited for what the future holds. I’m excited to start my internship in Wisconsin, to be back at Taylor next semester, and to see where God leads me from there.

Goodbye for now, Australia. I hope to see you again. Stay sunny, Brisbane.

O lands! O all so dear to me—what you are, I become a part of that, whatever it is.

~Walt Whitman

My favorite part of my bus route from school

My favorite part of my bus route from school

How cute is this little guy! Apparently it's called a pademelon

How cute is this little guy! Apparently it’s called a pademelon

I'm going to miss this cutie

I’m going to miss this cutie

Weekend trip to Sydney!

Weekend trip to Sydney!

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Month 1 Musings

I’ve now been in Australia for a month. It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been here this long! This is the longest that I’ve ever been out of the U.S. which means that I finally get to experience firsthand all the different phases of culture shock that people always talk about. At this point, I have been moving past the initial “honeymoon stage,” as I’ve now had a variety of normal, everyday, and even unpleasant experiences. As I have begun to move through this process, I’ve tried to keep in mind that Australian culture isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

Everything was going well until I was confronted with a difference in their culture that I actually thought was wrong. I have quickly learned that Australian humor is drastically different from ours. Where Americans are sensitive in their use of humor, Australians have no sensitivity. Americans can draw a line between what is humorous and what is offensive. Australians can’t, which takes them way past this line. There have been multiple times when an Australian has been joking about the fact that I’m American, taken it way too far, said something really offensive (I sometimes honestly cannot believe the things they say), and never had any idea but thought it was hilarious.

These interactions have led me to ask the question: Is insensitivity (cultural insensitivity or any other kind) wrong or is America just a very sensitive culture? Before I came to Australia, I would have said that it was most definitely wrong because it only tears people down. But I don’t think Australians would say that their insensitivity is a bad thing. They use it to either show affection or as a way to bring others down to their level. Does this make it okay though? Something to chew on…

Life here has by no means been bad, though, I am still having a wonderful time! Here are some highlights from the past couple weeks:

  1. My class went on a field trip to an old prison island called St. Helena. It was super interesting plus I saw tons of wallabies!
  2. I just happened to wake up really early one morning just in time to see a beautiful sunrise. God’s creation is so beautiful!
  3. I got to hold a koala! And feed/pet kangaroos! I almost died.
  4. My host family is hosting a Japanese student for a couple weeks. Last weekend she wanted to get some souvenirs so I took her to a shop. It was really cool to be able to show someone around when I’ve only been here for a month!
  5. I think I’ve been to the beach at least once almost every week since I’ve been here. It’s fantastic.
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I’m In Australia!

In case anyone was wondering, I did make it to Australia. I have been here for two weeks now. It’s been a crazy two weeks…so much has already happened and I’ve already learned so much. Here are just a few things I’ve learned since getting here:

  1. Australia is a beautiful country. The land is beautiful. The trees and grass and flowers are beautiful. The sky is beautiful. The beaches are beautiful. The buildings are beautiful. The people are beautiful. Even the animals (with the exception of the snakes and spiders) are beautiful. Get the picture? Everything is beautiful here.
  2. Public transportation is not that bad and is completely terrifying at the same time. I know the bus route from my house to “uni” (a.k.a. college). I’ve gone to South Bank (which is the city itself rather than the suburb of Brisbane where I live) twice. But at the same time I have no idea where I am. If I ever miss my stop I’ll be in big trouble.
  3. Everything here really can kill you. If it’s not sharks and jellyfish, then its spiders, snakes, and now even mosquitoes. It’s really quite miraculous that I haven’t died yet.
  4. Australians say “heaps” instead of “a lot,” “no worries” instead of “you’re welcome,” and “how are you going?” instead of “how are you?” They really do say “mate” like we’ve all imagined, and they love American accents. They think we sound sophisticated and try to copy my accent all the time.
  5. It doesn’t take as long as you’d think to get used to seeing people driving on the left side of the road. However, it takes a lot longer to feel like the driver’s seat on the right side of the car is normal and to look right instead of left when crossing the street.

I’ve done some pretty cool things here already, but I’d say my top two highlights so far have been going to the beach on the Gold Coast during Cyclone Marcia and then later going back to the Gold Coast to go surfing. Surfing is a lot harder than it looks, however I did get up on the board a couple times! And now I can tell everyone (like all of you reading this) that I’ve been surfing in Australia!

I’ll end with a few photos of what I’ve seen so far during my first couple weeks in Australia.

We ventured out to the beach to see the cyclone

We ventured out to the beach to see the cyclone

The city at night at the Gold Coast

The city at night on the Gold Coast

My host family's house...my home for the next 3 months

My host family’s house…my home for the next 3 months

Brisbane!

Brisbane!

Me: "Wow, that's a big lizard!" My host sister: "Big? That's nothing!"

Me: “Wow, that’s a big lizard!”
My host sister: “Big? That’s nothing!”

Brisbane is beautiful

Brisbane is beautiful

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