Have Dreams, Will Travel

Today is the day! As unreal as it feels, today is the day that I set out onto the journey of a lifetime. Over the past week, I have had increasing excitement and anxiety for boarding the plane and moving to the faraway land of Australia for a semester. With a fifteen hour flight, followed by a six hour layover, another nine hour flight, hotel stay, and hour and a half bus ride, I’m DEFINITELY excited to get my feet on the ground at the final destination. As I continue to get more nervous for take off, I also am greatly looking forward to many new and incredible experiences I will have while abroad!

Pre-Departure Challenges

It has been quite the challenge getting things ready, in fact I think our program group has managed to have an issue with every single step! However, it feels like we’re all as ready to go as possible. Prepping to go abroad has been far more difficult than I imagined, however every step of the way has provided a chance for me to grow. The first challenge started with my flight, which increased $4000 overnight, forcing me to select the second best flight. Luckily, as it ends up now, a close friend of mine and I will be traveling together! We also ended up getting denied on-campus housing one month prior to departure, which was more than nerve-wracking, but I now have booked what looks like a fantastic studio apartment close to campus. As a bonus, I was reading the school’s info booklet yesterday, and could see the apartment complex on the front cover picture! Packing to go halfway around the world for a semester was definitely difficult, but hopefully is sufficient.

Regardless of all the challenges faced prior to departure, I sincerely hope that my time abroad will be relaxing and enjoyable. Of course I expect the need to adjust to a new culture and surroundings, but also hope it will be exciting and fun!

Why Australia?

I will be traveling to Gold Coast, Australia, to study hospitality management at Bond University. Gold Coast is right about in the middle of the East coast, on the coast. One question that caught me off guard the first time someone asked it was, “Why Australia?” To me, it was an obvious choice. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Australia, and a semester abroad is the perfect way to make going that distance worthwhile. The main reason I chose Australia is for the landscape and wildlife, two things that I love to learn about. I’m pretty sure that it is impossible for me to get beached-out or tired of holding a koala, two things I will definitely be enjoying. I have also lost count of how many people have referenced Australia’s “everything kills you.” Although this is not the most comforting thing ever, I am excited to see and learn about the wildlife, even the dangerous things, just hopefully not too up-close. I’m looking forward to snorkeling and taking hikes through the wildlife, and running around the lakes and beaches of Gold Coast.

I also am greatly looking forward to the warm weather (and missing the harsh PSU winter)! Since English is spoken in Australia, I won’t have too much of a barrier with that, but am excited to hear the accent and learn all the different terms. Another really cool thing about Australia is that it is a melting pot of many different cultures. I am really interested in meeting all kinds of different people, and learn about what their home country and travels have been like.

All in all, there was no consideration in me choosing Australia. While I loving traveling the world and still have many places to visit on my bucket list, this decision was automatic.

Hopes & Dreams for Study Abroad

Summing up my hopes and dreams for studying abroad is like telling you exactly what job I want to have fifteen years from now. I have a rough idea, but with the life I’ve lived so far, I know that things change from day to day and I take opportunities as they come. Generally speaking, I want to experience all that I mentioned above, but also learn about the culture of Australia, both indigenous as well as modern-day. I am interested in learning about life in another country in regards to topics like environmental care, government, social culture, foods, history, and the arts.

I would say that there are two main reasons for choosing to study abroad:

  1. To keep me on track with my college degree, and gain a firsthand extended education in a different part of our world. Hopefully, with different people from around the world, I will be able to learn about many different countries.
  2. After working very hard for my first two and a half years at Penn State, I want a semester of new and fun experiences. I have no doubt that these dreams will come true throughout my time in Australia, but I also am open to the changes and opportunities that I know will arise throughout my time there! One of my favorite quotes of all time is by John Lennon, reading “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” This quote has powered me through many experiences, and is definitely reflective of my personality. All study abroad students are dreamers, and this semester a few more of us get to live our dreams.

Thank You’s

As a closing statement, I would like to thank all my amazing supporters for helping me to get to a place where I am able to embark on such an amazing journey. I am WELL aware that not everyone is able to do so, and I thank God every night that I am able to receive this experience. This blog is a great tool for me to record my experiences while abroad to look back on later, but also share with others. More so than for me, this is also for YOU. With that being said, to anyone reading this unable to experience an opportunity of the same scale, I would love to hear your comments or any requests/suggestions of things for me to do while in Australia. Thank you to my friends at home and school, my amazing advisor and other supporting faculty, life coaches and instructors, and most importantly, my family. THANK YOU mom and dad for supporting me in many ways to travel abroad, I know it will be the experience of a lifetime!

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