I’m two weeks from getting on a plane to Sydney and it feels like the whole process has been chaos. I’ve submitted everything at the last minute, which is dumb and frankly entirely my fault, and it’s been copious amounts of unnecessary stress. Just today, I realized I didn’t accept my admittance in the Endeavour portal for UNSW and started freaking out that I wasn’t going to be able to go abroad. As it turns out, the portal was glitching anyway so I got lucky, but I was preparing myself mentally to come to terms with the fact that I might have to stay in Boulder in the spring.
As for the thought of actually leaving, I couldn’t be more excited. I was abroad with IES Abroad in Dublin over the summer and it changed my life to the point where I feel out of place in Boulder. I know that my experience in Sydney will be what I make of it, which is why I’m not letting myself worry about anything that I can’t control. I was drowning in school and work, and knowing I'd get to travel and be alone and independent was my motivator.
I knew next to nothing about Sydney or Australia as a whole when I applied, so I’ve also made it a mission to learn more about the culture and society. While I’m there I’d like to take lessons in some traditional art forms. Initially, I thought of the didgeridoo, but I learned that it’s not customary for women to play the instrument. Although I would love to learn, I want to respect the culture so I’ll look into some form of dance or other kinds of music. This may sound premature but I’d also like to pet a kangaroo. I want to know if they’re soft. Maybe I could help out at a kangaroo farm during bath day and help give the baby kangaroos baths. That would be cool.
I’m also debating if I should bring my backpacking gear. I’ve heard way too much about the spiders and snakes in Australia to want to wake up with one making googly eyes at me. On the other hand, I love camping and I want to have camped all around the world so I think I might just do it anyway…no clue if that’s a good idea. Anyhow, I’ll join the mountaineering team there; they will know all the best places for climbing and camping and it will be a great way to meet people. When I was in Dublin one of my best decisions was reaching out to the mountaineering club at UCD because it enabled me to meet locals and also be outdoors. I also plan to try surfing. It’s a lot harder to try when you’re from a land-locked state and you’re afraid of water, so what better time to get over my fear than the great beaches in Sydney? There are probably sharks though. Not sure if I’d rather make googly eyes with a shark or a giant spider. Probably a shark because their eyes are on the sides of their heads whereas spiders have extra eyes just to freak you out. I digress. Surfing will be dope.
Going abroad is a growth experience. While there will be times where everything looks as it would on an influencer's Instagram, there will also be times where I'm going to feel lonely, sad, or homesick. Growth is not easy and it shouldn't be, which is what makes studying abroad so incredible. It's one of the quickest paths to becoming a more well-rounded and independent person, all while being in an amazing new place. In any case, I am beyond excited about this next chapter. I know nobody going to Sydney and I love it that way. I hope my roommates will be cool and do their dishes and want to go out with me and have all sorts of cool backstories. But most importantly I am looking forward to a new adventure with hopefully fewer spiders than kangaroos.
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Stella is currently a mechanical engineering student at the University of Colorado Boulder, where her goal is to always have at least one foot out of her comfort zone. When she is not on the engineering grind, she is passionate about playing guitar, backpacking, climbing, dancing, or really anything that will get her outside and soaking up the sunshine. Being raised in a French/English bilingual household, she grew up with an appreciation for other cultures and traveling. As she continues on her journey toward adulthood, she hopes to keep experiencing the unfamiliar and become an increasingly global citizen.