While you may or may not know me personally, I’m happy to have you accompany me on my greatest life adventure yet, an adventure that takes place on the opposite side of the world.
To give you a brief introduction of myself, I go by Gabi. I’m a Junior student in the Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management major with a concentration in Convention/Meeting Planning. I’m originally from Mankato, MN, but you can now find me in Lismore, Australia until June.
Lismore is located just over half an hour inland from the middle of the east coast of Australia. If you’re anything like me, you may picture AUS as a hot, dry, flat, piece of land surrounded by incredible beaches. There is truth to that belief, as I’ve experienced quite a bit of hot weather (mid-80s) and lounged around on plenty of beaches, however, I have also discovered a land that I never would have imagined.
Southern Cross University, the school in which I am attending, is located in a rainforest type area of the country. The town is made up of hills and valleys filled with luscious greenery, blooming flowers, and an array of exotic animals. And recently, of course, plenty of rain. It’s hard to capture a picture of what the campus looks like it, but around each corner is a new nature-filled hideaway to study and socialize. It’s beautiful, to say the least.
So what has the experience been like thus far? Adventurous, exhausting, confusing, beautiful, out-of-this world, unreal. Within the first few weeks of my time here, I had the chance to hold a koala, feed kangaroos, learn to surf, visit incredible beaches, and even hike and camp in the “bush” (better known as the forest or woods in the States).
I felt as if I was constantly on the go, and although I hate to admit it, I crashed a couple of weeks in. I think I slept 12-13 hours for three nights in a row, and took brief naps in the day. I was beat. I attribute this exhaustion to the crazy adventures I was involved in, which very well may have had influence, however, I think I’m too stubborn to admit that it was the jet lag I swore I didn’t have that finally did me in.
Don’t worry, I’m back at it and not nearly as sleepy as before. I am now, shockingly, in the 5th week of classes. How I have been here for that long already, I do not know. The three classes I’m taking have been fairly easy to adjust to, and while they involve a lot more reading than I’m used to, they are similar to the studies I have back at Stout, making it feel a little more like home.
I’ve made a number of friends, many from places throughout the United States and Canada, as well some from Spain, Sweden, the UK, and undoubtedly, quite a few from right here in Australia. It’s been an adjustment to understand new accents and slang (which Australians LOVE to use nearly every sentence), but everyone has been very welcoming, kind, funny, and energetic. Currently, I’m sitting here, stumped, as I try to figure out if I’m “keen to go to Maccas” or if I “reckon I’ve seen any mozzies”…but I digress. Despite the difficulty to process what they are saying to me, they have quickly become family to me and I already tear up thinking I only have 2.5 months left with them.
While I’ve travelled abroad before, this experience has been unlike anything I’ve done. There is not one moment that I wish I would have stayed home or visited for a shorter period of time. Life here is different, but beautiful. Not just the land, but the people and the relationships I’ve built. I’m learning so much about myself and the rest of the world, more than I would’ve ever thought possible. While the time is going by quickly, I enjoy every second of it and cannot wait to see what the next 77 days I have left will bring.