I have sat down numerous times to write this article, thinking long and hard about how I could possibly sum up the best three months of my life and how I could possibly end it. And then I realized: I am having such a hard time talking about the end of the semester because it does not feel as if it is really over.
Every day that I spent in Australia felt like a dream that I was so close to waking up from, but I never did; the entire experience didn’t feel real, so how could it ending feel real? I am still waiting to wake up in my bed back at Springfield College, grab my backpack, and race to the Union for a Dunkin’ iced coffee before class.
I am sad that I am leaving this beautiful country, but I am also very thankful for the amazing opportunities that this place has provided me.
While here, I have been able to cuddle with a koala bear and hang out with kangaroos, and I have climbed a mountain in darkness to view the sunrise. I (attempted to) learn how to surf, I snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, and I visited beautiful beaches and went skydiving.
In between all of the amazing fun I had, I did a lot of learning too. I am glad I was able to be extremely challenged by the courses I took while at Bond University; however, I shouldn’t have been so surprised to find the courses challenging considering Bond is one of the most prestigious universities in Australia…but I digress.
In addition to the classroom learning, I also gained an abundance of life knowledge as well as self-knowledge (if that’s even a thing).
I learned that not wanting to follow the crowd and doing your own thing is OK, but that staying in your comfort zone for too long is not. I learned that it is just as important to be challenged academically as it is to be challenged by your friends.
There is a quote that I found long ago that says, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I am almost positive that I laughed at that quote the first time I read it. But, now that I think about it, that quote did what it was supposed to: it made me think.
Eleanor Roosevelt said that, and I am extremely thankful for her advice. Even though I was not able to follow her direction precisely, I thought of her words every time I was about to enter a situation that scared me, which happened a lot on this trip.
One of those scary moments was skydiving, which I also have to say is the proudest moment of my whole study abroad experience. My best friend and roommate said she wanted to do it since the beginning of the semester.
With my general fear of flying in planes, I did not intend on jumping out of one, and I told her I would be there on the ground waiting for her when she managed to find her way back down to it.
As the end of the semester drew nearer, though, I reconsidered, and I decided that if I was going to do anything crazy to wrap up a crazy semester, freefalling from 14,000 feet was the way to go.
It took some encouragement, along with some discouragement from my disapproving mother, to push me to go through with it. Man, am I glad I did. Not only was it one of the best experiences of my life, I can also proudly say that I proved wrong every person who didn’t believe that I would go through with it, and that feeling is almost as incredible.
This entire semester felt exactly like that jump out of the plane: super scary at first, then incredibly exciting, then calming as the parachute opened and the air was no longer rushing, and then it was over way too quickly.
I will leave this country feeling sad, but also renewed, enlightened and surprisingly happy. I could not be happier that this entire experience wasn’t a dream because dreams are easily forgotten, and I refuse to forget a single minute of my time spent in Australia.
I am thankful to this country for teaching me so much about life and about myself; I feel indebted to this place. I can say with confidence, though, that this this isn’t “Goodbye,” it’s “See you later.”
Until next time, Oz.