Arriving in my host country: My initial thoughts and feelings

Catherine Segrave
Exchange to The Catholic University of America, USA
Semester 1 2016

I was waiting in line to board my plane to LA and had never felt so excited about anything. I had been waiting for this day since I got my acceptance email back in September. Participating in student exchange program was something that had always interested me. After travelling for over 24 hours with no sleep I was so tired and you would expect that I would have no energy, but not me. I was so excited that I didn’t care how tired I was. I stepped outside Dulles International Airport onto my shuttle to the Catholic University of America (CUA) where I would be living for the next four months. The whole bus ride I couldn’t stop smiling and looking out the window.


After arriving at my dorm I was so hungry and tired all I wanted was the unhealthiest meal I could find. My friend Darcy and I arrived at the same time and went to a café across the road from our dorm called “Bus Boys & Poets.” Little did I know for the next two days I would be eating every meal at this place because our food plan didn’t start until next week. After a couple of days eating out and cooking for myself using the minimum kitchen facilities that were available in our dorm, all I wanted was to eat my mums cooking. This was the first time where I really started to miss home.


I had been at CUA for a few days before the American students came back to the dorms after Christmas break. I spent that time getting to know the other five Australian girls, getting our rooms set up and exploring DC. Of course Exploring DC meant finding our favourite shop Walmart.  We are all doing exchange on a budget so we were pretty happy finding a cheap shop like Walmart that has just about everything.


With all the excitement of coming to America and going overseas for the first time reality finally hit that I am overseas to study and that means taking classes.  In my case because I’m studying nursing it also means to take clinical subjects where we spend 2 days a week in a hospital. On the Monday that classes started we had a meeting with the nursing faculty here at CUA. After talking to them about the classes we would be taking and the expectations of us to pass I felt very overwhelmed. This lead to me feeling very homesick and really questioning why am I doing this program. However after each of the fist classes that overwhelming feeling went away and I went back to really enjoying myself.


I have now been at CUA for a month and I have made a great group of friends. My room mate Julia and I get on so well. She has made it really easy to make friends as she introduced me to all of hers. I love living in a dorm. You’re never lonely as there is always someone around. I don’t find myself feeling homesick anymore, just missing a few things from home every now and then. It’s funny because I miss my dog more than anything or anyone. I suppose when you’re living in a foreign county and your whole life is back home that feeling of missing things and people from home never really go away. Coming to CUA has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. I have made so many amazing friends and I am learning and experiencing so much. I am really looking forward to rest of the program and I just hope that it doesn’t go by too quickly.

My Dorm – Gibbons Hall

My Dorm – Gibbons Hall