Bailey Gilmore
September 20, 2013
Turning Ranga (red-headed) in Oz Fruit bats are something I truly miss—there is nothing like a twilit sky teeming with the chirps and swoops of a bat family. Pavlova, a meringue cake claimed as the national dessert of both New Zealand and Australia One last good afternoon on the balc before moving out of our apartment. Train station underground in the Melbourne CBD, gateway to adventure. Another other-earthly sunset over the city, taken from my apartment. I never got used to the fact that most trees I saw had white bark. It does make it easier to spot koalas, though. Driving along the cane fields of the tropics blanketed by clouds that bring thunderstorms and general high humidity in Queensland. Here is the truth about the tropics—the torrential rain supports life as bright as these flowers in Queensland. Trying to determine the next destination in New Zealand, or map lapping, as I like to call it. Mountains through mist in Kaikoura, NZ Oregon again.

It seems I had just shaken off the last vestiges of jet lag when it became back-to-school time again. After many weeks traveling it has been strange not to have every conversation be about what your home is like or where you’re going next.

For my final post I wanted to share photos that will always remind me of Australia, ones that didn’t make it into the posts through the semester but that capture the Ozziest bits of my life there. And I couldn’t resist adding a few photos from my travels afterward.

During these post-semester travels I managed to visit four other cities where I had considered studying abroad, and while there is no way to compare a visit of a few days to a solid four months living in a city, I left these others with the delightful conclusion that there was no where else I would rather have studied. Melbourne was the place for me, whether I knew it all along or not.

I have struggled against the testimonial-ready lauding of studying abroad; how it is guaranteed to change your life in every way, how everyone is guaranteed to ‘find themselves.’ That kind of thing is too campy for me. But there is no avoiding the world-widening that study abroad provides. The scale of my imagination has broadened, whether it was staring out the passenger window for days and soaking in whole new landscapes, or learning new norms associated with daily life, one that was meant to be comparable to the one at home. So, I am grateful for the circumstantial unveiling of possibilities that were once hidden—unintentional secrets of what is.

When I first touched down in my hometown I was relieved—I knew where I was going to sleep the night and my daily obligations were significantly reduced. Plus, I missed that place like nobody’s business! Friends asked if I would go back to any of the places I visited, and I replied that I’d seen those and would want to come back someday, but first I’d want to see all the other countries on my long, long list. Yet it has come to me slowly that the places I went aren’t checklist items. In the same way that home in the Northwest is special, it’s the relationship I’ve created with those places that makes them more important to me than lands unknown. And as wonderful and thrilling as exploring new places is, return and rediscovery are more meaningful.

It is still startling to think that it’s already back-to-school, business as usual. I catch myself daydreaming about Melbourne quite a bit.

Thank you, Australia, for the daydreams, for the stories I have yet to tell—it’s nice to miss you.

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Bailey Gilmore

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Bailey is a comparative politics major at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Her academic interests stretch across the social sciences, from history to geography to criminology, and, of course, to politics. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Bailey is an devoted ultimate frisbee player and can&#39;t wait for Australian Rules Ultimate. When she&#39;s not on the field or nerding out about population growth in various countries, you can find her singing along to the best of the &#39;60s and &#39;70s and/or working to capture life, place, and person on camera. She is ready and eager to dive into life at a big university in a big city, all in the wonder Down Under.</span></p>

2013 Spring
Home University:
University of Puget Sound
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