In Australian Wildlife Biology yesterday, we were learning about Tasmanian Devils. My professor explained that part of the significance of conserving these animals is that they’re so iconic. I realized how right she was. I remembered watching Looney Toons when I was young. I loved Taz. How could you not? I never even imagined though that I would end up in his home. Tasmania seemed so exotic and far away. Yet going there a couple of weeks ago felt normal. It’s amazing how quickly people adjust.
I think that’s why I’ve been struggling to come up with blog post topics lately. The crazy, unbelievable semester abroad has turned into a normal life. It’s too cold
to spend the day at the beach. My classes and budget get in the way of going on long trips to far off places. Mostly it’s just that I’ve settled into a routine here. I eat meals with the same group of people, have hobbies like playing chess regularly, study and do all the other routine bits that make up a normal life.
Somehow even weekend trips to Tasmania feel routine, in part because I’ve spent so much time traveling. I love that I have to ability to take these trips and I’m incredibly appreciative of them, but it’s a huge part of the study abroad culture and that’s another reason the trips feel like less of a big deal. I was actually one of the last people to make it to Tasmania.
That being said, this is the more meaningful part of being abroad for me. I loved the weeks of traveling, meeting new people and having incredible experiences before the semester started. Towards the end though I started craving meaning again. The people I was meeting were all other international, college-aged kids. I wasn’t learning anything new, wasn’t doing anything productive. It was just weeks of beaches, sight-seeing, small talk and parties. That was fun for awhile, but it got boring. I’m so much happier to be where I am now: taking classes I love and spending time with friends.
And I do love my classes. I can’t believe I get to specialize this much – that my labs are trips to animal shelters, zoos and guide dog training facilities. I’m learning about things I really care about and learning skills that apply to careers I’m seriously considering. That learning and the close friendships I’ve made with people here has made my life finally feel like it has real meaning again.
My study abroad experience has been great for a number of reasons. When I applied, I wrote about how I expected study abroad to be a transformative experience that would provide me with the self confidence to tackle all the new challenges of truly becoming an adult. I really hoped that that would be true, but I wasn’t sure. I certainly had no concept of what a profound effect it would end up having on me. I came to a new country all alone and built a life here. Of course I had lots of help from a variety of people. But at the end of the day this is something I did. It makes the idea of leaving Whitman in a year so much less scary.
I’m not ready to come home just yet though. I have another month here and I plan on milking every minute I have left in Australia. I want to spend as much time with the people here before I put an ocean in between us. I still have places to visit and animals to see. Just because I’ve settled, doesn’t mean I’m done doing cool things. In fact I need to wrap this up so I can finish packing for my trip along the Great Ocean Road. Stay tuned for pictures of zip lining and glow worms (hopefully).
Over and Out,