Before stepping off my last plane in Brisbane, Australia, America was my home and anywhere else seemed so different in my mind. But after being here for a week, I see why people never want to leave. I see why people study abroad here and can truly call this place their “home”. Australia is just like America in many ways; there’s Mobil gas stations, 7 elevens, Starbucks, and many of the same clothing stores. The similarities between America and Australia have definitely made this transition easier and has allowed me to already explore my new home with open and excited eyes. I am residing in the city on the Goldcoast of Australia and the atmosphere is invigorating. There’s always people walking along the streets; there’s the view of the ocean from my balcony, and at night the sky is lit up with the city lights.
My actual separation process was much easier than I expected. I won’t say it wasn’t hard at all, because it was. Giving my friends and family that one last hug and kiss and walking away from them was mentally and physically the hardest thing I’ve had to do. But where I am mentally one week later is much better than the day I left. Of course I have my moments where I feel like I’m missing out back home or just wish I could talk to people whenever and not be 15 hours apart. But, that’s not the case and right now I’m OK with it.
I feel like the separation process has gone well so far because of how busy I have kept myself. Every single day I am constantly on the go and exploring some new amazing part of Australia. It’s in those moments that I have nothing to do or when I am just lying in bed that I start to think about home and feel that twinge in my heart that makes me want to be there. On page 152 of Slimbach’s text it says, “We spend decades learning the ‘ropes’ for effective functioning within our own society. Then, without warning, our mental programming is upset. What we’ve come to know as ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ isn’t normal or natural anymore.” Being in this new place definitely is not easy. For example, the cars drive on the different side of the road, so even just crossing the street is ten times harder. I never know which way the car is coming from, so I look to my left and right about five times before crossing. Little stuff like that makes living in this society harder than home, but it is something I can become adjusted to with time.
I have met amazing new people from all over the country that I feel like I’ve known forever. These people are my communitas – a group of people who are going through the same process as myself, which makes me feel connected to them. They’re the ones who have gone through this same exact process as me. A lot of us did not know each other; we all separated from home and have embarked on this journey to Australia together. Having a communitas has been extremely helpful so far in this place that is so foreign to me. We lean on each other for directions, plans for what to do during the day and at night, and for when we need to just vent before stresses about anything take over our emotions. Being social and outgoing has definitely helped in finding my own communitas, and I know long-lasting friendships from all the experiences and memories we create together.
This picture displays the exact way I feel every time I walk down the streets of Gold Coast, Australia. I never knew it was possible to fall in love with a place so quickly, but I did. I am constantly in awe over how beautiful it is here and the kind and easy-going people I meet. Australia, you already have my heart.
Liminality is being in between my old self before separation and this new person I am becoming here while I am abroad. Getting to this “new self” won’t come easy and challenges will be faced along the way. So far, I have faced the challenge of not using social media, GroupMe, or Google Maps when I am out and about. When deciding on phone plans to use while abroad, my phone was not not paid off so I could not unlock it in order to buy a SIM card here in Australia. Thus, this resulted in me having very limited data to use and have to solely rely on wifi. It hasn’t been too difficult so far, but when I don’t know where I am or where my friends are, it can be hard to find my way. Personally, I think these challenges will only further develop my transformation depending on the way I overcome them. Mom and Dad aren’t here anymore to help me and I have to depend on my own self and communitas to get through it. In the end, this will just result in a greater personal growth than I could imagine.
I have my friends from America here in Australia, but I did not come here just to hang out with American people. I want to meet others from all over the world and from this country as well. Being isolated to just my communitas will inhibit my transformation and limit me from fully indulging into different lifestyles and cultures. I actually plan on attending a meeting today that will go over all the different clubs and activities at Bond University. From this, I hope to create a new network of international friends who can open my eyes up to how people live and behave all over the world.
(Slimbach, Richard. “Living with Paradox.” Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. 152. Print. )