Last month, I left the United States for the first time. I went to Brisbane, Australia for a 2 week study abroad program, and it changed my life in so many ways. There will be a blog post specifically about that experience coming soon, but I want to talk about why this trip was so monumental for my growth as a person.
Growing up, I had always wanted to change the world. It’s the reason why I am pursuing a degree and career in education. After a service trip to Houston Texas, I had caught the “travel bug” and have developed this craving to see the world beyond the United States. I figured the in order to change the world, I need to see the world. At one point it was my dream lifestyle to live out of a suitcase, travel to every country vlogging the entire experience and teaching people along the way. Now that’s not my dream lifestyle, but I still want to travel the world and see all of the hidden beauty that is embedded within it.
While I had this dream, I had this weakness of putting my dreams and my happiness on the backburner so I could make others happy. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a mentally healthy thing to be doing all of the time. I did it all of the time, and I forgot how to make myself happy. Whenever I would think about my dreams, I would always tell myself that I would get to them eventually. Back in January of 2019, I got to the point of asking myself, “When is eventually?” When will I do things that I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time to do so? Traveling was the biggest one that I always said I’d get to eventually.
That same month, as I was slowly becoming miserable in the midst of taking physics and general life, I started taking action in making my own happiness. I knew that in order to change my dreams into goals, I had to write them down, so I feel obligated to cross them off. That same day, I wrote my bucket list of things that I wanted to do. After doing many redrafts and figuring out what I want to achieve in my own pursuit of happiness, I wrote the bucket list that is now on this blog. After every rewrite, the first thing that was always on each one was “Travel outside of the U.S.”
The US is great, but there is something cool about exploring and experiencing other cultures in other countries. It makes someone more worldly and I want to be more worldly. I want to become more educated in different cultures, world issues, and I want to see what makes every country great. Why do people choose to live in the countries they live in? What about their specific culture is so great? How do their societies function? What is their education system like? What do people do for fun? What is their coffee like? All of these questions are things that race through my mind on any given day at any given time.
I got answers to these questions for Australia during my time in my study abroad program. I love the Australian culture. It is so fascinating and multi-layered and during my time there I only tapped the surface of the culture. Someday, I would love to go back and bring my family because the trip opened my eyes to a whole new world.
My time in Australia changed my life. I learned more than what the contents of my course. I learned about life, the Australian culture, and how to be a better human.
First, the Australian culture is different than the American culture. They take pride in being humble, they are well in tune with the animals that surround them, and they are overall caring and open individuals. Every Australian that I’ve met embodies these three things. It is so fascinating and it’s one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Australia during my mere two weeks there. Australians would see a snake or a possum and not blink about it. They would ignore it and pretend it wasn’t there. In America, if I saw a possum or a snake I would scream and possibly cry. That’s part of the culture in the states. Beyond the animals, Australians tend to be people who care. Almost every Australian that I came across asked me about my experience so far, if I am liking Australia, how I was in Australia, and they answered any question I may have had about Australia. They answered it openly and seemed like they genuinely cared about answering the question. Australians are so educated on their culture, government, and general day to day things, it is amazing. That doesn’t typically happen in the United States. This tiny comparison shows the massive difference between the two cultures.
On a more surface level, the coffee shop culture is different in Australia. Local coffee shops dominate the café scene, and it’s rare to see a coffee chain on the streets of Australia. In America, I find that the big coffee chains dominate the café scene. You can’t go more than a few blocks in a city without seeing some type of coffee chain whether it’s Dunkin, Starbucks, Einstein Bagels, Pete’s, or some other chain. I love that the café scene in Australia isn’t chain dominated because I found that the quality of the coffee at these local cafes is better. I rarely drink coffee without any sugar in it, in Australia I wasn’t adding any sugar to my coffee. Beyond where I got my coffee from, I found that cafes in Brisbane usually closed around 2 pm. In the US, coffee shops are open until later on in the day. There are Dunkins that are open 24 hours in the US, so if you need a late-night coffee at 2 am, you got it.
Talking to Australians, exploring the city of Brisbane, experiencing things like their coffee culture has helped me grow as a person. In a nutshell, it made me more open and accepting to everything; experiences, perspective, people, knowledge and culture. Since I learned how to be open on these things, I feel like I was able to absorb so much more during my experience. I learned that there can be more than 2 perspectives on anything, and I learned how to be open to all of them whether or not I agree with it. I was open to doing things that were more out of my comfort zone.
My trip to Australia was a taste of what the world is like outside of the US. That taste of exploring another culture was delicious. I do want to travel more in the future, I don’t quite know where yet, but I do want to do more of it. This trip changed my life and aided in my growth as a person and my journey into becoming more a worldly person.
Australia, I want to thank you for giving me one of the best experiences of my life. I will always have the upmost gratitude and appreciation for your beautiful country. I hope to come back and explore more of it someday.
I left the US for the first time, now it’s time to daydream about my next adventure abroad.
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