Traveling to a place and living within a place are different experiences entirely. Travelling to places for short periods of time and being a tourist, although valuable, doesn’t really give you a holistic view of the space you inhabit. For instance, when I arrived in Australia, in Melbourne, I was a tourist. Most of my time then was spent between various tourist destinations and I didn’t get a sense of daily life in Australia. My mindset was one of having fun and seeing as much as possible as fast possible.
At this point, I’m a part of the fabric of Sydney. I go to school, get groceries, have favorite spots, hangouts, and routes through the city, and I feel at home here. The things that initially drew me to Sydney, namely the multicultural landscape of the city and the simultaneously laid-back and frantic pace of life in Australia’s Capital. As finals come to a close, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss, as if by being so absorbed in my studies I haven’t truly had the time to truly experience even a fraction of what this city has to offer.
For this reason, I’m staying in this part of the world for as long as possible, so I can experience Australia more like an Australian, and less like a frantic college student. I came into Sydney expecting for this to be a test of my own strength and will. I would be “alone” in a foreign country I had little knowledge of at one of the hardest programs. I envisioned this as a rite of passage for myself, and as an escape from Florida. What I found was that my support network followed me here, and I had help from friends I made here and my family and friends back home every step of the way. I guess one of the things I ended up liking most about Sydney is that I was never truly alone.