- Posted March 17, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama
A Semester Abroad Down Under
Last semester I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, at the University of Sydney. I spent the semester living in downtown Sydney, exploring the city, meeting new people, traveling the country, and more. While there is absolutely no way to truly share my whole experience, no matter the character limit, I can honestly say it was the best decision I have ever made. The things I learned about the country, about people, and about myself are invaluable lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life.
I adjusted to life in a new, completely foreign city, and by the time I left I could say I knew Sydney better than any city in America.
I travelled: North up to Brisbane, Byron Bay, Cairns, Port Douglas; South to Melbourne and Tasmania. I lived and dove on the Great Barrier Reef for 3 days. I watched the sun rise over the eastern edge of the Pacific, when I had grown up watching it set on the western edge. I stayed in countless hostels, meeting people from all over the world, each with a unique story to share about where they had been, why they were there, and where they were going.
At the end of the day, besides the incredible sights- the cliffs of the Great Ocean Road, the deep canyons of the Blue Mountains, the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef- it was the people I met along the way that taught me more than anything else. They taught me to go out of my comfort zone, say hello to a stranger, listen to their story. Often, they offered me something in return- a place to stay, a ride to another destination, even just a friendly conversation. All of these interactions and people made it so clear to me how important it is to travel, get new perspectives, and come back to your old life with new eyes. Leaving Australia was one of the most painful things I have ever done, because I had fallen so in love with the country and with the lifestyle I led exploring this new part of the world. But I think coming back with a new perspective on where I'm from and where I should go from here was maybe the most important part of the journey.
There's tons of quotes about travel, but I think these three sum it up for me:
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other
side of the world.” -Mary Anne Radmacher
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” -Terry Pratchett
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”- Anthony Bourdain
(The picture is in front of the Sydney Opera House at sunrise)