George – Semester Exchange to Catholic University of America, USA
Semester 1, 2017
I am currently less than a week from jumping on a plane and returning back home to Australia, so I thought I would make a note about what’s going through my mind right now, for the benefit of those clever ACU students who are considering study abroad.
Full disclosure: I am procrastinating. I am writing this blog smack-bang in the middle of the exam week – I’m too embarrassed to admit just how few hours there are until my next exam, but here we are.
So, the past four months have been the best of my life. I have made many friends from America and all over the World (including my fellow Aussie exchange students). I have travelled to about 18 states (most of those over the course of Spring Break). I have gotten involved with the tennis club and political groups on campus. I have ticked off most of the “American” things I had to do before I left. It has been wild and wonderful, but sometimes daunting.
For the first two weeks, I would have gladly accepted your offer of a plane ticket back home – even a 36 hour Etihad plane ticket (handy-dandy tip: don’t fly on a west-bound aeroplane from Australia, because the World is round and you’re taking the long way to an already-distant place. And don’t use a flight agency. Kids these days are using Google Flight or direct booking with the airline). And the worst thing about taking a backwards flight is that it was supposedly ‘night-time’ for the whole 36 hours (dunno how that works, but I’m sure science has an explanation), so even though we were actually flying over Europe and even Scandinavia (I also don’t know why, but the TV on the headrest said so), we had to keep the windows down!
Anyway, we were talking about home-sickness, and how it seems to wear off – I don’t know exactly what happened to change my feelings, but it was slow process. I think it was a matter of just settling in. After a while you get to accept that you have a new life for a little while, then you make it work. A little while after you accept that, you start to really enjoy having a new life. Classes kick in, and you start feeling more comfortable around all the new people you have met.
In a way, the World I am living in now seems more familiar than the one I remember in Australia. That’s not a comment on my life back home, but in a short time Washington has become my new home. I really love it here, and while I miss friends and family in Australia, I know it’s going to be a whole new process re-adjusting.
I was talking about the subject of going home with a friend a few days ago, and we joked that the ideal situation would be to go back home for a few weeks to catch up with friends, then come back to DC for another semester! Of course, that’s not possible, so the new challenge is readjusting to life in Australia. Our helpful advisors at ACU have taught us extensively of the horrors of ‘reverse-culture shock’ and we laughed when we heard about it, but it may well be a challenge to overcome. For now though, I have a few exams to put behind me, then some sad goodbyes. After that I jump on a plane for Miami for a few days, then take the scenic route back to Australia.