The week of my flight I was completely calm, not even mildly concerned that I hadn’t packed, didn’t have a bank account, and couldn’t tell you which courses I was enrolling in. Even the night before I left, when I learned that my connecting flights to and from Atlanta were cancelled, my spirit was unchanged. I had an absolute sense of calm, probably because my mother had enough nerves for the both of us. Through research and patience, the suitcases were finally packed, the bank account was opened, the courses were registered for, and the connections were changed. The worry didn’t set in until I looked out the Virgin Australia plane and saw brown.
EVERYTHING WAS BROWN!!! What happened to the lush landscapes that I had seen in the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of photos I had found on Google? I had heard that there were brush fires in Melbourne, but could they really be this close to my university campus? Yes, yes they were. I was suddenly second-guessing everything I thought I knew about Australia and my decision to study abroad.
After arriving on campus and finding my dorm room, I opened my computer, ready to have contact with America after thirty hours of traveling. My jaw dropped and my body filled with panic as the words “unable to connect” appeared on my computer. How would I contact my family, figure out the bus schedules, or find information on the pre-orientation trip I was supposed to attend the next day. I decided to try my luck in the common room and found a group of people streaming a Miami Heat game (well at least they have good taste). Having just discovered how to access the internet, they were eager to share their knowledge. I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am that I entered that room. Emily, Becca, Sam and I have been inseparable since then. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten through these two weeks of orientation without them. Yes, I said two weeks. Yes, they are just as boring as orientation at home.
The main thing that has helped me adjust to life abroad is putting myself out there. Just asking how to get on the wi-fi provided me with a truly amazing support system. Luckily the people I found were also international students, in the same boat as me, but the Aussies have been just as accommodating. La Trobe University has been helpful. I was able to learn how to use Melbourne’s public transportation during The Amazing Race, signed up for a school trip to Phillip Island, and have not had to make dinner once this week. The pre-orientation trip, also promoted by the school, allowed for me to make friends and have familiar faces on campus. This experience has already been amazing and I know it’s only going to get better.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain