I had heard it a million times: “Studying abroad was the best experience of my life!” Having already had what I had considered to be a good number of pretty great experiences, I was skeptical. However, after living in Australia for just over a month, I can say that I will forever be one of those people who tell everyone and anyone how amazing studying abroad is.
Studying abroad and coming to a new country was like starting over, just like we all did when we started as freshmen or transfers at Springfield. Even though my college career began just about a year and a half ago, my first week at Bond University on the Gold Coast of Australia brought me back to the time when I was a scared little freshman, intimidated by the newness of everything and embarrassed by the mandatory beanie. Orientation, or O-Week as Bond calls it, was vastly different from the NSO experience I had just last summer.
At Springfield, New Student Orientation is a huge deal and something we all take great pride in (get it?). Those few days provide the first impression that follows all of us during our time at our amazing institution. During my NSO experience, I felt that I had been welcomed into a community that would provide support and encouragement whenever I could possibly need it. NSO introduced me to so many incredible individuals who would all have a part in making my time at Springfield an enjoyable one. At Bond, I cannot say that my experience was the same; different is the only way I could describe it.
I arrived on campus fairly early in the day, and began the process of settling in to yet another new environment. I signed some papers and received my room assignment, without the assistance of a Resident Assistant or any sort of direction, really. I had received a booklet which held information about all of the events scheduled for the entire week. I read through it and was pretty surprised; I could not believe that I was entering an orientation that did not require my attendance at every event that was arranged for the week.
Only one event throughout the entire week was mandatory, and it was a cocktail hour at which we were introduced to the members of the Bond University Student Association (BUSA), the on-campus group responsible for the arrangement of O-Week’s activities.
There were no leaders adorned with maroon nametags; there were neither groups nor leaders; there were no other instructions. I could choose to attend or to not attend as many or as few events as I so pleased. Of course, having been given so much freedom, I only attended the events that were mandatory and/or sounded like the most fun. One of these events was obviously the toga party.
It was the classic scene that has been portrayed in multiple college-based comedies: drunken people wrapped in bed sheets and decorated with accessories that were placed with the intention to look Grecian.
The party started in the res. halls, per usual college rituals, and then moved to the on-campus bar, a not-so-usual ritual.
The bar, called Don’s, sits right across from my very own residential building – such a convenience! Once the party at Don’s ended around midnight, the party didn’t actually stop. Oh, no. BUSA had arranged for busses to transport students from campus to a club downtown in Surfers Paradise where students would receive free entry and discounted beverages of the alcoholic variety.
Sounds like a dream, right? Free transportation to and from the club. No cover. Discounted alcohol. Sign me up! The catch with the ride back, though, was that students would have to stay at the club until 4 a.m. Sounds a little less enticing, huh? My friends and I, however, viewed this as a challenge and made every effort to keep each other conscious long enough to catch the bus back. We all made it out alive, so we deemed the night a success.
The week continued with events and info. sessions that were attended, most likely, by students who intended on attending this university for longer than a single semester. I, however, continued to become acquainted with the place I would call my home for the next four months. It took longer than the initial week, but after a month, I can say that I have settled in quite nicely.
It’s strange, starting over. I had entered college with the expectation of having four years of comfort before I became acquainted with the real world. Little did I know, at the time, that I would actually be starting over in a country 9,690 miles from the place I had initially started anew