A journey worth taking

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, blokes and sheilas, I have successfully completed my academic career at Bond University. That’s right, I am no longer a student at Bond Uni, as I will be returning to High Point in January. I am very excited to return back to my home university, but at the same time I will miss a lot about Australia. My time living in Queensland has truly been a journey that was simply “worth it.” I find it funny to think that at this time in 2011, I was finishing up my exams at HPU with no idea that I would not be taking any fall semester exams. Rather, I would be completing my second consecutive spring semester, with a third one upcoming.

As I recall, it was around Christmas time last year that I began to seriously entertaining the idea of studying in Australia. Since I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to study outside of the United States for a semester. I had seen both of my older brothers travel to the likes of Chile, Haiti, and Argentina, and I was pretty confident that I would follow in their footsteps. I do not mean that I wanted to study in any of those countries, but I knew a semester abroad was a life changing adventure I would almost certainly embark on. But where? Well, due to my 6 years of failure in an attempt to grasp the Spanish language, or any other foreign language for that matter, that certainly steered me away from a great number of countries. I am also admittedly very impatient when it comes to learning a new language. You are probably thinking that I am missing part of the study abroad uncertainty and adventure aspects that are often involved. And you might be right.

Although I did entertain the idea of studying in South Africa, which has tons of English speakers, I was pretty set on Australia from the start. It is a place that I had dreamed of visiting for my entire childhood, and this was my change to make it a reality. Although I did have lots of questions about what my time here would be like, I was ready to hop on the plane in April, when I got accepted. It’s funny how the 15 weeks leading up seemed twice as long as the 15 weeks I have been fortunate enough to spend in Oz.

Now that my time here is coming to an end, it is easy to say that I made a great decision to move down under. To be cliché, I will cherish the memories and friendships I have made here. A few events stand out to me as my favorite moments in the past 3.5 months, and shockingly none of them took place in a classroom or the library. Having the opportunity to vacation to the Great Barrier Reef and swim with amazing animals in some of the clearest and most beautiful water on the planet will certainly be a lasting memory. Also, my trip to Sydney was an amazing few days filled with some of my favorite memories (show in the Opera House, Harbour tour, Bondi Beach, etc…).

With all of this being said, I would be remiss if I did not thank the people who made this possible for me. They would be my incredible parents! Thank you Mom and Dad for your complete support of my moving to Australia. Although I’m sure it is not easy to send your child to another country for such a long time (although Ryan and Chris gave you 2 trial runs each), I thank you for allowing me to live this dream. I hope that you guys get the chance to visit Australia one day, and if so, that you bring me along.

Well, this brings us to the end. It is a bittersweet farewell, as I will dearly miss many of the things that reside in the place I have called home since September. That being said, I am certainly ready to get back to mainland living as I have spent the last 6 months living on two different islands. Thank you to everyone who has kept up with my blog, I hope I was able to deliver you some interesting stuff about my time in Australia. I have really enjoyed my first official blogging experience and I plan on starting a full time blog in the near future.

I will leave you with a few things that I have learned about this crazy place the locals call ‘Straya.

1-Bats here are not little fruit bats, they are more like birds of prey

2-The Aussie countryside and national parks are immaculate

3-The Great Barrier Reef is a mini slice of heaven

4-It is possible to survive without ESPN, although it never hurts to have it

5-Everyone should have the pleasure of visiting the Sydney Harbour

6-The sun is hotter here, something to do with the ozone layer

7-Kobe is the athlete of choice for Gold Coast residents

8-Kangaroos do in fact exist

9-There are 10 million more people in the greater Tokyo area than there are in all of Oz

10-Trivia is easier with a culturally diverse team

11-Don’t order the BBQ Pork… just don’t

12-You can survive on public transportation, although it takes some planning ahead

13-Music is truly the ultimate cross-culture language

14-You learn a lot about what you actually believe when you get out of your little bubble

15-I want go to New Zealand before I die

16-The way we do things in America is not always the best or right way to do things, although we tend to think so.

17-“Good on ya” is a sarcastic term

18-Everyone says mate, not just a stereotype

Here is a compilation of some of my favorite pictures from my time in ‘Straya.

Cheers!

Joel

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One thought on “A journey worth taking

  1. Mark McGahan says:

    Thanks so much for sharing all your experiences in your blog entries, Joel–we almost feel like we’ve been on an adventure with you ourselves! Have a good trip home and a wonderful Christmas with your family who have missed you very much. And thanks for the tip…I won’t be saying “Good on ya” over the holidays!

    Love,

    Aunt Peggy and Uncle Mark

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