Embracing Your Independence While Abroad

Headshot of Elizabeth Grosscup.
Elisabeth Grosscup
August 1, 2023

Finding independence abroad can be super challenging, especially when you’re in a situation where you want to be with people all the time, considering you’re in a brand new place.

However, toward the middle of my trip, I found myself craving time to do the things that I truly wanted to do while I was in Sydney. What were things that I had marked down on my bucket list in the first month that I wanted to be sure I did in the remaining month left? 

One of these things was seeing the ballet at the Opera House. I grew up dancing for ten years, and have always admired the strength and elegance ballet dancers hold. I remember texting my mom one day on my lunch break, and I was like, "Mom, I think I really want to go see the ballet at the Opera House."

Two weeks later and here I was taking the train to Wynyard and realizing I was doing something really cool by myself, and it was amazing. I typically would see the Opera House at night either while on the train, taking the ferry, or even when I went with my entire IES group. This was the first time I was seeing it during the day and… wow. It was absolutely mesmerizing. 

The ballet started at 2 p.m. so it was a perfect day trip to the Opera House. The performance was actually a dance competition, with scholarship prizes, dance lessons, and more rewards at stake. The dancers ranged in ages as young as 14 to college aged students, and I thought it was incredible to see how talented they were and how their dancing reflected someone much older than their actual age. 

When I left the Opera House, it was right before sunset and I took some lovely photos. I remember standing near the water and taking it all in- Sydney, the view, this life. I felt so completely thankful and blessed in this moment for everything. I was proud of myself for doing this alone, and embracing every second of it. Sometimes in groups you can get so caught up in what other people want to do, that you lose sight of what you truly want to get out of the experience. I was so glad that today I prioritized myself and did this independently. 

A huge piece of advice that I’ve been told and now can give to others who are interested in studying abroad, is to find something that reminds you of home. Of course the Opera House wasn’t something I could find at home, but the Chatswood library was. Toward the last third of the trip, I went there at least once a week either to write, read, or simply watch Netflix and relax for the evening. This library reminded me a lot of being a college student—and feeling that sense of familiarity brought me to a feeling of peace and comfort, and took me out of the 9-5 work life for the time I was there. Finding little reminders of home can be extremely helpful and beneficial when feeling homesick or just needing some independent time.

These reminders may not happen instantly—for me, it took half the trip. Just know that they’re there. You’ll find them if you look for them, and sometimes you find them when you least expect it—and I think that’s the most beautiful thing of it all. 

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Headshot of Elizabeth Grosscup.

Elisabeth Grosscup

Hey everyone! I'm Elisabeth Grosscup, and I'm a junior studying Psychology with a Creative Writing minor at Auburn University! I'm from a small town in Alabama near the beach, and a fun fact about me is that I can say the alphabet backward!

2023 Summer 1
Home University:
Auburn University
Spanish Fort, AL
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