What I Learned From The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb

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Alyssa Burlison
May 7, 2024

I’ll start this by saying I do not like heights. At summer camp I loathed the climbing wall. If I get seated too high up at football games I get nervous. Even hikes with what would be stunning views have made me miserable. All of this to say, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge was not on my study abroad bucket list. I watched Phil Dunphy pursue the climb in Modern Family and that was enough for me. 

The day our IES Abroad advisors announced that we would be doing it was not a happy one. But it was scheduled far enough away that agreeing to go didn’t seem like that big of a deal. However when the day finally came I regretted every choice that brought me to that moment. Just going over the safety protocols had my heart racing. 

Then we began our ascent. To my surprise, once we started climbing up the many ladders I wasn’t that nervous. I was surrounded by my friends and the views were stunning. We sang songs by the Backstreet Boys and discussed any more travel plans we have for our semester. By the time we made it to the top I felt calm and grateful. Days prior I considered flaking out but my friends convinced me not to. Because of that I saw the city from a new angle and watched boats float by in the harbor. 

That’s part of the magic of studying abroad. When you're away from home a braver version of yourself comes out and you try things your past self would never consider. Spending a semester as an exchange student opens the door to wonderful and terrifying opportunities. It’s important you take advantage of everything that comes your way no matter how scary. The harbor bridge climb will be one of my favorite moments from this semester and I’m so excited to see what terrifying opportunity comes next. 

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Alyssa Burlison

Hi! My name is Alyssa Burlison and I'm a writing and film double major at Texas Christian University.  I love to write and am working on a romantic comedy inspired by Jimmy Buffet's music. I'm a foodie and I love hiking and stand up paddle boarding! 

2024 Spring
Home University:
Texas Christian University
Creative Writing
Film Studies
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