There is an infinitive number of life lessons I've learned while staying in a foreign country for 4 months but here are what I believe have been the most important ones. My experience with studying abroad has been one long roller coaster of an adventure I'll never forget. I've had the opportunity to meet people who will become my lifelong friends and build my relationship with those I've known even stronger. It truly was an experience of a lifetime, so allow me to walk you through some of the most important things I've not only held close to my heart but will take with me as life lessons as my semester abroad comes to an end.
I figured I'd start with the easy one. Money doesn't grow on trees. My parents used to tell me that when I was younger and usually I'd give them wise answer such as "money is paper and paper comes from trees" (I know, I know, sorry Mom) but there's no doubt I've learned my lesson. Money seems to just disappear into thin air. Somedays I could've sworn I was doing alright with money then I would wake up with 6 cents left in my bank account. Moral of the story, being in a foreign country with no real method of income had some value to it. I've perfected my budgeting skills while still making the most of my time here. That goes without saying I am forever thankful and grateful to my friends and family that added to that support along the way. But don't let me fool you, having fun costs a lot of money alright.
Now, never did I think I'd be leaving this program with a couple of lifelong friends but lucky for me, that's exactly what happened. When you're over 10,000 miles away from home you're going to cling on to anything that makes you feel comfortable. For me, knowing all of these people are in the same boat as I was is what I gravitated towards. We were essentially each others' temporary homes. That's a big task, to just build a relationship in such a short period of time with an absolute stranger. But somehow that's just how it went. We went from complete and utter strangers to saying we love each other and have each others' backs in a matter of 2 weeks. I'm forever grateful that I landed the best possible roommates a girl could've asked for. I learned a lot about life from the experiences of the people I surrounded myself with. It's been amazing to step back and think about how much we've all grown and learned from eachother, something that may not ever happen in such a short time period. Nevertheless, aside from making new friends here it was apparent as to who my true friends were back home too. For those of you constantly checking in and talking to me when I was extra home sick, I can't thank you enough. Both my friends and family were nothing but supportive and comforting even from 10,000 miles away, how did I get so lucky?
One of the biggest and most important things I've learned during this experience was understanding myself. I have never been put into half the situations I faced being here. I never realized how lonely it was to take care of myself when I was sick or traveling alone in a foreign country. I never really knew how to pick myself up even on my worst days. These are the kind of fundamental 'adult' things I've been learning. Nonetheless I have my amazing best friend here with me helping me every second she can (Tess I can't thank you enough, I love you) but sometimes I had to do things for myself. Some days this was the hardest thing to do. Putting yourself first and understanding yourself is never a fully accomplished task. But, along the way I found some coping mechanism for stress and anxiety that I never would've learned without the adventure. And I'm not just saying this to say it, studying abroad has given me the tools for the future into how to take care of myself both physically and mentally.
Bondi Beach Alex King
People are Different
Seems pretty simple right? Wrong. Sure people are different. People come from different ways of life. People aren't going to agree with you. People are going to handle situations differently than you do. People have different standards and morales as you. Heck, some people have never washed a plate in their lives. Or have never boiled pasta. For some reason, this lesson took me some time to understand. It might just be my bossy, 'always have to be right' personality but it also just may be something I never noticed before. Although, it grew my patience to a whole new level and I'm thankful for that. Not only has it taught me to have patience for people but not to care or worry about others' decisions or what they're doing. Someone wants to go out 7 nights a week and bring a new boy home every night? You go girl. Someone likes to spend their nights staying in, watching netflix? Me too!! Regardless of the situation, if it doesn't affect you then your opinion really doesn't matter at the end of the day. I mean unless you're being kind then it matters of course. Anyways, I think you understand what I'm trying to say. Everyone is different. People are coming from different upbringings. People are fighting different battles you may not know about. So in return, have patience, respect, and understanding for people who may not do things like you.
Hopefully some of you can relate, especially those who have or are currently studying abroad. The experience itself is almost indescribable. I haven't entirely found the right words to sum up the beautiful madness of spending a semester in Australia. It's a little bit of laughing until you pee your pants, crying on facetime because you're homesick, mixing in a little homework (yes we did go to school here), blowing $80 on drinks at a bar you don't even remember the name of, soaking up the rays every second that a glimpse of yellow shines in the sky, dancing… LOTS of dancing, and making countless memories with strangers who have become your best friends. I am forever grateful for this opportunity to study abroad here in Australia. There is not one thing I would've changed about my time here; if anything, where am I off to next?