Reading the title of this post might be a bit frightening at first. It may seem like I am questioning my decision to travel alone to a foreign country for five months. However, I have been “abroad” for exactly three weeks and at my host university for exactly 2 weeks and not once have I questioned my decision of coming here. However, today was the second day of classes and my first time sitting in on my “Human Structure and Function” course, that I took as last resort to cover my natural science GE credit I still need at OSU. I was thinking that this class would be another typical Earth Science or Chocolate Science course that I could check off in order to stay on track to graduate next spring. I was far from wrong. As a class, we went around the room announcing our majors. “Nursing.” “Health Science.” “Physical Therapy.” These were all the responses of each student. I started to build a nervous sweat as the teacher pointed to me and I announced, “Accounting.” The teacher continued to point to each of the students to hear their responses. However, at the very end, she pointed back to me and asked “I just need to point out what we’re all thinking, why are you here?”
That got me thinking. Why am I here? I have lived in Columbus, Ohio my entire life, 21 years, and I will be living in Australia for five months. That’s about 2% of my life that I am able to spend meeting all new people, experiencing a whole new culture, traveling and exploring a multitude of places and taking classes that I would never have stumbled upon back home. I am here to learn and grow as an individual. Ultimately, I want to come back with a new perspective on life and other cultures, in hopes that I can influence and relate to others in a more positive way. So far in my time here, I have met people from, and not limited to, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, Canada, Asia, New Zealand and all around the US. It has been fascinating not only learning about the culture in which I am living but the cultures of these many other exchange students going through similar experiences to mine.
Throughout these past two weeks, I have already gained so much knowledge about myself and other cultures and classes only started yesterday. For instance, I have learned that it is NEVER too late to learn. Each of my classes here has someone who is about the age of my parents. These people differ from the adults in my classes at OSU because they engage with everyone just as if they were our age. They are enthralled by class discussions and they will join classmates in getting a bite to eat after class. Additionally, some of my fellow exchange students are five or six years older than me. It is so much more common in other cultures to take a gap year, or two or three and then return to school when you know what you want out of your education and you are able to fully value what you are learning. Additionally, I have learned that I am more independent than I once thought. Going into this time abroad, I truly believed I would regret my decision, be lost and wondering, not make friends and yearn for my friends and family back home. Fortunately enough, none of this has come true. I started meeting people on the first plane ride over, when I talked to the two people sitting next to me for the entirety of the four hour flight. You are never fully alone when traveling because there are always people to meet and learn from and I have taken advantage of the opportunity to do so. Lastly, I am eager to see what I learn in these non-accounting classes. It is awesome to have the opportunity to take elective classes without having the stress of focusing more heavily on the classes for my major. This way, I am able to really experience each class I take here and gain knowledge on a whole new subject outside of my major.
It has been quite the adventure so far and I am looking forward to the rest of my time here! Not only am I looking forward to my bigger trips like the ones to Ningaloo Reef, Cairns and Bali but I am looking forward to living my day to day life as a student: playing in my touch rugby league, engaging in my dorms free food nights and enjoying the gorgeous weather while walking through campus. I’ll check back in with more of my experiences later on but for now, here are a few of my favorite pictures I have taken so far from traveling around Perth, Western Australia!