First Impressions of Australia

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Alexandra Thorpe
February 22, 2024

February marks my first month of studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. This is my first time visiting this country, with my only preexisting knowledge of Australian culture coming from tv shows like Dance Academy and H20 Just Add Water, so I was very excited to immerse myself in a different culture for the next four and a half months and get to experience the Australian way of life. My goals for this program are to gain self-confidence and independence as well as to form new lasting connections. After being in Sydney for only a few weeks, I already feel that I am beginning to grow, learning how to adapt to the new surroundings. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am far from being a “city girl”. I have lived in the suburbs all my life, and I go to school in a small town in Virginia where the nearest mall is an hour away. So going from a tiny town, where everything is close by and all the faces are familiar, to the sprawling city of Sydney with strangers from all over the world is a huge adjustment for me. After living in Sydney, I still am not inclined to live in a city any time soon, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and placed myself in an unfamiliar environment and made the best of my circumstances, and for that I am proud of myself. Living in a city promotes independent growth, and I feel that I am a better person as a result of adapting to a new environment. It was also a transition to adapt to a different university where they operate differently, and I had to advocate for myself when I did not understand how things would work out.  Whereas before, I would face a challenge, get stuck, and fixate on it until it is resolved somehow. Now, I am reaching out for help when I have a question, trying to learn how to advocate for myself. For example, I had issues understanding my class schedule here, as it operates very differently than at my home university because classes can overlap and clash with each other here. Instead of panicking and stressing myself out, I set out to find my advisor to talk to in person where she assured me that everything would work out, and I had plenty of time to figure things out. I believe that the reassurance that everything will work out as it’s supposed to is a mantra of the Australian attitude towards life, as people don’t seem in a rush or high-strung here as they do back home. In America, life feels like it’s on fast-forward, where days fly by and I am always bracing myself for what’s to come. Here, people seem to live in the present and approach things from a larger perspective, identifying what goals they are trying to work towards. I am still nervous about how everything will work out, sure, but I know that I can face whatever is to come. When I trust myself, good things will happen, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here in Sydney. 

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Alexandra Thorpe

I'm Alexandra Thorpe, a Computer Science junior at Washington and Lee University. My favorite hobbies include hiking, swimming, thrifting, making playlists, and spending time with friends! I have two dogs named Elvis and Bella back home!

2024 Spring
Home University:
Washington and Lee University
Computer Science
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