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Laughing, Emilie and I jumped (holding hands, of course) into the air, splaying our legs and arms out as widely as we could. Our tour guide/photographer, who was spending the day showing us the black sand beaches of northern New Zealand, smiled at his phone.
“Got it!” He called to us.
This was our last full day in New Zealand. It marked the end of mid-semester break: an epic two-week journey across Australia and New Zealand that Emilie and I had embarked on. We’d spent two weeks straight together. We slept in the same rooms at night, ate our meals together, and even swam to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef together…all of this and, somehow, we didn’t hate each other yet.
Emilie was, without contest, the best friend I’d made in Australia. There were others I got to know over lunches, coffee hours, or pub crawls: fascinating people from all over the world. I learned an incredible amount about China, France, England, and, of course, Australia from people I met abroad. But Emilie was understanding and kind — one of the best listeners I’d ever met. She was always down for an adventure, and yet she was equally content to spend a night eating ice cream and watching Netflix. But I wasn’t going to miss her at all when I came back. Why, you might ask?
Well, because Emilie is from Arcadia, too.
I hadn’t met my closest study-abroad friend in my foreign classes or in some Sydney bar or in a University of New South Wales student activity. I’d met her in Spanish my first year at Arcadia.
We hadn’t bonded then, but something about traveling thousands and thousands of miles from home tends to make people closer. When classes started at my university in Sydney, which was home to over 58,000 students, I was sure we would drift apart and find new friends. To my surprise, our friendship held.
Sometimes, I’m disappointed that my “best friend abroad” wasn’t an Australian. Before leaving, I’d imagined myself surrounded by a bunch of surfers from Down Under who would show me all the hidden wonders of Sydney. But then I remember not only all the good times Emilie and I had when we were abroad together, but also the fact that those good times have only just begun.