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Enjoying the views in Bond, Australia.
Torrential downpours of snow wreaked havoc on the Philadelphia area, and I was the only Arcadian to have my flight survive the wintry blast. I hopped off the 16-hour flight sleep-deprived and hungry— similar to how I feel normally when I wake up early in the morning, but nevertheless, an awful feeling. While I was fortunate that my flight wasn’t canceled, I was also the lone Arcadian meeting nearly 40 other students from different schools studying abroad in Australia through Arcadia’s program.
Once off the plane, I was able to leave my winter jacket behind. Taking off my boots and putting on flip-flops, or “thongs” as they say here, was a strange feeling, yet so satisfying. I had to pinch myself, not quite believing I was really here, and that it was January, and that it was warm enough to swim in the ocean. Who could pass up the amazing opportunity to escape the cold for four months?
Unfortunately, I was also alone in a foreign country. And super jet-lagged.
But traveling to Australia by myself turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and to speak to non-Arcadians in hopes of finding new friends. At orientation, I distinctly remember playing a card game that taught us about some of Arcadia’s most prized stances on diversity, equality, and fellowship. I began bonding with other students about how much we loved Tim Tams, (an Australian dessert with a soft chocolate filling surrounded by two chocolate wafers— so good!), and before I knew it, I had made my first group of friends. Success!
Fast forward to moving into campus. Yikes. So many emotions— angst, happiness, worry, excitement. I really just needed another box of Tim Tams to calm my nerves. We once again went through an orientation process, this time with Australians from the university I am studying at, and yet again we bonded after the usual awkward icebreakers.
I’ve learned during my short time in Australia that Arcadian and Australian cultures share a lot in common. We pride ourselves on working hard and playing hard. We want to make the best of our experience in college (or Uni, as they call it in the land down under), and we strongly believe in making connections that will help us down the road.
This experience has only just begun and I am already feeling so enriched. I cannot wait for what’s to come.