This last time in Australia is bittersweet. On one hand, I’ve made lasting friends here and this entire experience feels like a test that I’ve passed. I’ve seen a lot of the world and done so very much on all on my own. Better still, this semester has crystallized for me that I need to be working as soon as possible. More so than other semesters, I find myself in a constant state of concern moving from crisis to crisis.
As the semester begins to build towards the crescendo of finals, I can feel the stress building up within me. It’s a burning, choking feeling both within me and around me, and I sometimes catch myself panicking even when things appear to be going ok, because a crisis is assuredly just around the corner. It affects my sleep, my ability to interact with people, and my ability to enjoy periods of peace. There are parts of Sydney I would enjoy more if I didn’t have the specter of finals hanging over it. I’ve given serious consideration to extending my stay in Sydney by a few weeks just to alleviate the sense that in the midst of my academic tunnel vision, I’m missing out on what this city has to offer.
My academic focus, at least, has given me new ways of looking at the world. Two of my classes directly address non-North American views of the world; one from a pan-European perspective, and one from an Australian perspective. Both directly address the conception of identity. As a class, both native Australians and foreign students seemed to struggle with the notion of a pan-European identity that continues to change, and is made up of different, sometimes competing components. This difficult concept made perfect sense to me and I think its why I feel so at home in Sydney in particular. The patchwork cultural diversity and the people “between” identities, or identifying with two or more nationalities fits me perfectly.