These first few weeks in Australia have been a whirlwind. As always, things did not go according to plan, a fixture in my life. Upon landing I made the almost immediate discovery my bags had disappeared somewhere between Orlando and Melbourne. This was not an auspicious start to this experience. I was forced to almost immediately strike out into Australia on my own, in search of basic toiletries and clothes. I’ve almost immediately found that I enjoy Australian accents immensely, and they seem to enjoy mine, although between both of our slang and accents we’re often mutually unintelligible and must repeat things slower and with hand signals.
The other Rollins students were similarly excited and nervous but were almost immediately a world apart from me. The first order of business for most was to get out on the town and party. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they ended up accompanying other foreign exchange students like themselves. I spent a few nights out with them, and swiftly realized that we had different reasons for being there. Although I think we shared similar identity goals, we had very different ways of accomplishing them. I can see the younger Rollins students reinventing themselves here, trying on different identities like wearing hats. As someone who’s lived nomadically, I am static by comparison. I am not trying to find who I am, but rather to prove to myself who I am. That said, my first weeks here have been spent in largely tourist pursuits. I dived the great barrier reef, and explored the outback, and visited dazzling beaches.
My first impressions of Sydney were excellent. I immediately fell in love with the city, the campus, and the locals. I’m not as much in love with my accommodations. My roommates are good people but are very young. This comes out not only in their view of Australia and their filtering of every experience through American lenses but is also exacerbated by our proximity. Although I have always lived in a house that was crowded by American standards, I’ve generally had a space to myself. My room is my refuge; a place of peace and tranquility I can retreat to away from people. In Sydney, this is not an option.