The Time I Realized I Wasn't in the United States Anymore

Headshot of Elizabeth Grosscup.
Elisabeth Grosscup
July 17, 2023
Close up of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

If you told me that I would be crying on my third day in Australia because I realized there wasn't a Chick-fil-A, I'd tell you you're crazy.

Yet, here I was, crying in the middle of the mall at a restaurant with my friend and new roommate, over some noodles that were too bland for my liking. 

Day three.

Coming to Australia, I was hopeful and excited. There were a lot of mixed emotions as I landed and settled in, especially the first 72 hours. Between the jet lag, new environment, and 15-hour time difference from back home, there were a lot of things hitting me at once. Once we settled into our new living arrangement, we were greeted with a beautiful dinner cruise the first night. I remember having the hardest time comprehending the fact that it was only 5 p.m., yet felt like 2 in the morning.

Well, that's because it was 2 in the morning back at sweet home Alabama.

My internal clock was beyond confused. I distracted myself by taking endless photos of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, capturing every beautiful moment. This was it. Australia. I was in disbelief, but in the most remarkable way.

Throughout the weekend we went to the Blue Mountains to hike, as well as traveled to nearby parks and sightseeing venues. I remember craving fried food— like a burger, or chicken, and knowing it wasn't around me was hard to process. After a hike back home, I'd typically grab some delicious Mexican food with an ice-cold Coca-cola.

Except I wasn't home, I was in Australia. And I was presented with an odd turkey sandwich paired with an appetite that was slowly disappearing.

I felt it to be extremely difficult the first few days to enjoy food and the variety of food here. There is no "Australian" type of food. Well, unless you count Vegemite, which is a whole blog in itself. There was a lot of Asian food, and I couldn't find something I enjoyed— that could remind me of home. This brought me to day three when I was faced with a bowl of noodles that were a little too healthy for my liking.

Okay, in reality, the noodles weren't that bad. I just think at this moment, it hit me. I realized that I wasn't home. I couldn't go and drive to Chick-fil-A for a number 1, no pickles, add American cheese (no pun intended), a large root beer, and Polynesian and Chick-fil-A sauce on the side. I was on a different continent for 8 weeks and I was going to have to simply adjust.

And adjust is what I began to do.

It was hard at first, but as weeks one and two approached, I found different places that I enjoyed. Guzman y Gomez quickly became one of my favorite Mexican(ish) restaurants to go to, and Chat Thai became my favorite Thai place in Chatswood because it reminded me of the Thai food my mom and I eat at home. I quickly found comfort in Korean fried chicken, and even sushi, which I never even looked at in the United States. 

To conclude, there are going to be multiple factors that shock you, especially within the first few days (and even weeks) of being somewhere new. I was confident that I was going to adjust to everything just fine, and when I realized I was crying over the lack of peanut oil-fried chicken—reality set in for me. I had to challenge myself to try new foods and new places. I had to self-reflect and realize that there might be some places I like, and some places I don't, but the only way I'll be able to discover these things is by trying new food along the way. 

My biggest piece of advice is to expect the unexpected. I had no idea the difference in foods and not having access to my favorite Mexican restaurant and fast foods back home would affect me the way it did. There's really no way to prepare yourself for what is in store, but you can control the way you respond and adjust. Viewing things with a positive outlook gives room for growth, and allows you to immerse yourself in the culture of your temporary home even more. 

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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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