This week, as people begin to pack up their things and head for Sydney Airport, unsure of when they’ll return again, I can’t help but feel quite sad. Suddenly, I’m not ready to return to New York. There’s still so much here for me to do and see. I think the worst part about studying at Sydney is that once the four months of living here are over, it’s hard to know when you’ll come back, if you ever do. It’s not like studying in Europe, where you can pretty easily plan a trip back a few months later if you wanted. The big journey to Sydney is long and expensive, and to make the traveling worth it you need quite a few days of time off from school, work, and other responsibilities to spend here. However, I am doing my best to think positively. My mother always says if you really want something you will make it happen. So, Sydney, although it is nearly time for me to go, I will be back soon.
As I’ve been wrapping up my essays and presentations and studying for finals, I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the great experiences I’ve had during the past four months. I made friends from countries I had never even heard of, had class on a boat, went in the Indian Ocean for the first time, spent entire weekends at the beach. I can’t think of one bad day. The one experience that was most exceptional, however, was Sydney’s ‘Results Night’, the night the results of the same-sex marriage postal survey were released. My professor and the four other women in my public health class gathered around my laptop, reading the results in excitement as the majority of Australia said yes to same-sex marriage. We made a plan to go to the parade that was happening that night on Oxford Street together to celebrate. We went to a party supplies store and bought feather boas and sparkly glitter, all in the colors of the rainbow. The parade was full of excitement and joy, very similar to Pride parades throughout the US. I really felt like I was surrounded by love and good people. I feel so lucky to be in Sydney during this really important and life-changing time. I also got to know so much more about the people from my class, people I wasn’t necessarily close with originally. Since that night, my classmates have become some of my best friends here in Sydney. I will never forget that night.
Overall, my study abroad experience has taught me so much. I’ve learned more about just how different cities can really be, about other cultures and people’s diverse values, how to get away with having a very oversized carry-on bag, and so much more, even some more about myself. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had. I’m also really grateful for this course, it has given me the chance to acknowledge and reflect upon so much that I may not have given a second thought on my own. Although I’m heartbroken to leave such a great place, I know I’ll be returning to a city that means just as much to me. Until we meet again, Sydney.