It was July 13th when I landed in Melbourne. I was picked up from the airport, and two hours later, I arrived in Bendigo, Australia, the town I’d call home for four months. It was cold! It actually snowed lightly on the way there. For someone who expected literal outback and heat (even if it was winter at the time), Australia sure set me straight. Honestly, the weirdest thing was trying to comprehend that I was even in Australia, the place I used to want to live as a kid. It had seemed to me like the mythical land of kangaroos for so long that it was unreal to actually be there.
For the most part the semester was pretty routine outside of the fact that I was in Australia. However, as the temperature warmed up and we moved into Spring, it started raining. And raining. It was wet season in Australia...one of the worst they’ve had in awhile. And with the rain and the heat came mosquitos. The mosquitos in Australia are things to be feared; literally nothing else put fear into my heart like those insects. Looking back on it, I can laugh and see how great those moments were.
I had three Fine Art classes and two studios, each only once a week. Honestly, that was harder than loading up my schedule at App--it felt like a vacation where I had to force myself to focus on classes. The studios I had were a bit different than what I had expected, especially considering they were fine art focused and more research based than what I was used to. We had fewer projects, but they were more intense and conceptual than most of the work I’ve done for graphic design.
With finals week came a lot of stress. For one of my studio classes, Studio Studies, I presented the pieces and research I spent the entire semester on. It was entitled Dancing Hands and was made up of 80+ canvases of different sizes with printed pages on them. The pages were from several explorations I did where I danced against the paper with charcoal powder on my hands. Each experiment was made up of about 40 pages that were shrunk down and put on the canvases, then arranged on the wall. Once I made it through finals, I took off on a solo expedition of Australia!
Traveling on my own allowed me to truly experience everything I got to see and grow as an individual because there was no one else looking out for me. I got to be independent, and I really felt myself growing as an adult, not just a college student.
Once I got back to Bendigo, I had a few days to say goodbye to all of my friends. We laughed and joked and cried; it was hard to leave. They played such a large role in my experience in Australia. I had known I would make new friends abroad, but I didn’t expect to meet such amazing people and become such great friends with them. I was the only American that I ever knew on campus. I’m glad, because it pushed me to learn and adapt that much quicker.
I miss the weather, the people, and the kangaroos, but I’m so grateful to have these memories of such a great experience. I have to say it wasn’t my favorite thing to be obligated to go to class when all I wanted to do was explore and travel, but I learned things from my Aussie professors that I might never have learned anywhere else. Australia had been a land of myth to me for so long. I knew it existed, but it always seemed out of reach. And yet I was just there. That’s pretty awesome.