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    Posted March 15, 2014 by
    vinessa95
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    More from vinessa95

    What Happens When a Dream Becomes a Reality?

     
    In my 9th grade Advanced Placement World History class we learned about nearly every country on almost every continent. We learned about the rise of the Zhou Dynasty in China, the influence of the Roman Empire throughout Europe, and even the disappearance of the Nok Culture in Africa. Despite all of this, I noticed that there was one country left out throughout the course of the class—Australia. Why didn't we learn about the Aborigines and how European settlers nearly wiped them out? What prompted the White Australia Policy and how was it abolished? How did an enormous isolated island like Australia become highly successful and industrialized in only a short period of time? These questions were, unfortunately, not answered in my 9th grade AP World History class. This left me with a deep curiosity and desire to not just learn more about Australia, but to actually travel and live there for an extended period of time.

    I remember during my freshman year at the University of Miami writing a bucket list on my wall of things to do before I graduated. Right above my pillow read the words, "Before I graduate, I want to study abroad in either Australia or South Africa." This wasn't just any idea or wish. This was a special dream of mine. I wanted to go out and see the world, or at least a portion of it, beyond what any textbook or Google Earth could show me.

    I decided that I wanted to study abroad in Australia the second semester of my sophomore year. It seemed like the right time since I would still have some general requirement classes to fulfill and I thought it'd be best to leave halfway through the school year than to return halfway. I made note of the application date and as soon as I was able to apply, I did. I wanted to go to Sydney, the oldest and most populous city in Australia. The University of Technology Sydney (UTS), right in the heart of Sydney, caught my attention and seemed to be a good fit for me and my interests.

    After getting accepted to study abroad at UTS, the months leading up to my departure date from the U.S. felt like an eternity. I don't think I've ever been so anxious for something in the distant future in my entire life. I mean, I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime! It was going to happen. I would soon be in Sydney, Australia and would live there for six months to study, adapt, learn and grow. This dream of mine had grown into something bigger and was on its way to becoming a reality.

    On February 5th, 2014 I kissed my family goodbye at Miami International Airport and departed on a 5 hour late afternoon flight to Los Angeles, California. After a 4 hour layover at LAX, the real journey began—a 15 hour flight from L.A. to Sydney. According to the flight attendant, that flight is actually the longest direct flight available in the world and believe me, it sure felt like it. I ate dinner, slept for eight hours, watched two movies, enjoyed a hot breakfast and listened to my "Favorite Songs" playlist on Spotify twice. I was itching to get out of my seat and return to land again.

    The best moment on flight QF0012 to Sydney, Australia happened around 8 am on February 7th (UTC). At an elevation of about 1000 feet I looked out the window and could see a stretch of buildings with the sun shining brightly on them. A smile quickly came upon my face and stayed permanently fixed there as the plane drew closer to the city. Part of me smiled because the longest flight in the world was almost over. Another part of me smiled because I would soon be able to finally go outside and breathe fresh air again—It had been 24 hours since I had gone outside! More than anything, I smiled and remained smiling because I had accomplished something. From 9th grade world history class, to my freshman year of college bucket list, to right then and there. Sitting on the plane,in that moment, I was in Sydney, Australia. My dream of studying abroad had come to fruition and it was time to face a beautiful, exciting, and new reality.

    I look forward to learning and growing over the next couple of months while I am in Australia. Thanks to all who support me. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and will make the absolute most out of it!
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