|Me at the Gold Coast|
|Me in Melbourne|
|Me in front of the Sydney Opera House|
|At the Wagga Botanic Gardens|
Alright ladies and gentlemen, welcome to what is actually going to be my last blog entry. This post is going to be, unlike, my previous entries, reflective of past experiences, rather than an update on my recent activities. As this blog was created for the purpose of detailing my experiences in Australia, there's not really much new to share with everyone anyways. I've arrived home safely in America after about 30 total hours of travel (including the dreaded airport layovers) and I'm very happy to be back with my family and loved ones. So, I'm just going to use this blog entry to outline some of the main things I got out of my semester abroad in Australia.
I think a major benefit of my Australian semester was the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture other than my own. Having never ventured outside the continental United States prior to this trip, it was hard to even fathom what people in a country other than my own would live like. After actually living in Australia for four months, I've discovered that Americans like myself often have the tendency to envision other countries as simply an exoticized version of our own country. And I did learn eventually, that while Australian culture may share many similarities with American culture, it is still very much its own entity, and the only way to truly get a handle on what it's like is to experience it firsthand.
One thing in particular that I will miss greatly about Australia is the overall friendliness and lack of hostility on the part of the Australian people. I missed this in particular almost the moment I arrived at LAX (the first time I had set foot back on American soil). I found the staff at LAX, unlike the staff at the Sydney airport, to be much less accommodating and certainly less cheerful in demeanor. Another thing that I will miss about Australia is the enormous feeling of safety you have while you're there.While I consider the place I live in southwest Missouri to be a pretty safe place, I'd say it's probably as safe as Sydney, which is one of the more un-safe places in Australia (at least some parts of it anyways). I will definitely miss being able to roam the streets freely without coming across anyone who looks like they might have the desire to do you harm.
But I think that, most of all, the thing (or things) I will miss about Australia are the relationships I was able to form while I was there. As I mentioned earlier, the general friendliness and hospitality of the Australian people made it very easy to meet and befriend new people. I often wonder if foreign exchange students have a difficult time making friends in America, since I don't think we're quite as accommodating as the Aussies. In addition, I felt that being able to spend four and a half months in Australia afforded me the opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships. I eagerly await the day I will be able to see my Australian friends again.
So in summary, I guess you can say I had the time of my life in Australia. I had always dreamed about visiting another country and seeing how people from different nationalities and cultures go about their daily lives, and visiting a country that so few people have the opportunity to visit in their lifetime was a tremendous blessing. Needless to say, I am very thankful to all those who helped me in achieving my goal of studying in Australia; as well as the people who made my experience an enjoyable one. There are too many people to name here (which is a huge blessing in and of itself) but I assume that if you're taking the time to read this blog, then you are one such person. So for the last time, I'm signing off from JayceDownUnder. Thanks again everyone, all the the best for the future!