Australia: One Year Later

It has been exactly one year since I landed in Perth, Australia to study abroad. When I realized this, I could not believe the anniversary had snuck up so soon. It seems as if I have been in a state of longing for clear waters rolling onto sandy shores, ginormous waves crashing on towering rock cliffs and warm air embracing my skin for more than a year. There is not a day that goes by during which I do not think about the happiest and freest semester of my life and I so wish I could go back to experience that alternate universe one more time.

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My first sight of Australia

My life is so much different one year later: my late nights out with friends turned into late nights at my internship, shopping for bathing suits has turned into buying professional-wear and lounging under the sun at the beach has turned into laying in my bed reading for class (I read for class in Australia too, don’t worry). However, cooking for myself reverted back into having a meal plan on campus and not having to prepare every meal every day, so that is a plus! I am not planning cool trips to new continents or packing a bag for a week-long outback trip. Instead, I am trying to find a weekend I am free enough to have a friend visit me in New York. I am not saying anything about this is bad; it is just different.

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Cliffside in the Northwest

Studying abroad really was like living in an alternate universe, if the above descriptions did not portray that enough. However, it was more like an elongated dream; one that would eventually have to become a well-scrapbooked memory. Although my life is nowhere near as adventurous as it was a year ago, I am so thankful for what has come since leaving from Australia and what is to come in the future (more travels, please).

One year later I can say I still live with the essence of my past life. I have remained more confident in my own decisions, which I really had to learn as I was making travel plans down under. I have continued to be extremely mindful of the people I surround myself with and stand up for my beliefs instead of letting other people walk over me. Finally, I have continued to learn to take a break. Whether it is doing a face mask and lighting a candle or journaling, I make sure I take time to reflect on the day and evaluate the progress I made on my daily and weekly tasks. Although I came to Australia with a deep understanding of who I am as a person, I now can better express that to others.

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Our first sight of Perth

I really do wish I could go back and to Australia and relive that enlightening, beautiful semester. At the same time, I don’t think it would be the same. My semester in Australia came and left, and now I can let the memories live on to remind me how full of pure ecstasy that semester was and to let that time shape how I live in the future.

Whitmanythought 1: Seriously, please let me go back

Whitmanythought 2: I have friends studying in New Zealand and Australia this semester and I wish I could visit them

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Oz: Week 12 of Classes

This week proved how small the world really is. I was able to spare a night from my university work Wednesday and spend time with a friend I met in Berlin last summer. He showed me around the less touristy party of Northbridge, which is a neighborhood of Perth. I felt lucky to be able to experience different bars that the locals know.

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An impromptu photo shoot (Photo: Nicole Remus)

I felt luckier, though, due to the fact that I was able to make a connection ten months ago all the way in Germany, and follow through with it all the way in Australia. Andrew told me that last summer when I mentioned I may be studying abroad in Perth, he didn’t think I actually would, since it is so easy to declare travel plans, but even easier to not follow through with them. Alas, here I am! We discussed that although it is incredible to see the world, the things we remember the most are the times spent with other people, and I could not agree more.

This is why I love travelling—exploring new places and meeting new people. You never know the stories behind the strangers you are passing or are coincidentally participating in something with, and you never know if you will see them again. However, if you open your eyes and mind, all these outsiders may seem just a tad bit closer.

All Things in Life are Temporary

2016 was a whirlwind of a year. I’ve said it. We’ve all said it, for better or for worse.

As I mentioned earlier, I was really trying to change my lifestyle a bit when I first got into college. I have really worked on who I am and achieving the life I want to see while I am in the “best years of my life.” With some much self-evaluation spiked with a rapid recognition that I am now 20 and have to live it up because I am 20 and that’s what I am supposed to do (right?), I have come to a huge realization: All things in life are temporary.

This is something I have always known, and that is why I think I placed so much importance on relationships growing up. I remember my seventh grade self strolling with my friend in the mall and asking her, “We’ll always be best friends, right?” However, we had different schedules and interests, so we eventually grew away from each other. I tried my best to not get upset and forced myself to understand it is no one’s fault, and I had great friends around me anyway.

All things in life are uncertain. Enjoy the good while it is there, and stand up to the bad, knowing it can’t last forever.

I have always been so sensitive about things I care about. Why would I want to leave something or someone that was once my world behind? In high school, most of my friends were either older or younger than me. I knew what it was like when my friends left for college and I knew what to expect when I left my younger friends: I would do everything in my power to stay super close with them. To a certain degree, this has worked. I have stayed in touch with and have not changed my relationship with people who equally wanted to put in the effort to cultivate our friendships, and it is beautiful. I love the fact that I have so many friends at school, yet some friends from home are still clumped into the “best friend” category. I actually recall feeling boisterous pride when my sophomore year roommate was intrigued with the amount of friends I still had from home.

That is all fine and dandy, but there are the friendships that did not stay the same and weakened. College has really armored my sensitivity. I have learned to let things go and try to accept the mindset that all things happen for a reason. Moreover, that all things are temporary: friends, family, love. It is up to the individual to decide how he or she makes these things count.

Nothing is certain. It is up to the individual to make every moment count.

It is completely okay to throw your whole soul into a friendship or relationship or a job. Get the most out of it. Watch yourself and the people around you grow and accomplish new things. Be honest with yourself and those around you, be kind, be ready for change that you may not see coming. Most importantly, be at peace with the fact that not all things are in your control, so enjoy it while you can.

One of my biggest fears is having something in my life that did not make a positive or memorable impact in some way. I want to look back on these years and understand why I made the decisions I did and not regret a single second. Coming to terms with the variability in life has made me a stronger and an even more appreciative person. Now, I can venture through life knowing that although things in my life may temporary, they will make an everlasting impact.