An Aussie experience
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
I’ll start this off by letting everyone know that not all Australians have pet kangaroos and the majority that I have met do not own knives…at least not in Melbourne. The Australians I’ve met so far all call each other “mates,” they’re pretty amazing at sports and have the best fish ‘n chips I’ve ever tasted.
Stepping off the plane and entering a country known for its kangaroos, crocodiles, poisonous snakes, spiders and even plants, you don’t really feel different at first. After getting over thinking “thank God that 15 hour plane flight is over and I’m alive,” I realized I was going to experience an entirely different country for six months at a different university, different food and definitely a different culture from El Paso.
This realization didn’t exactly all come at that moment, but came to surface at the strangest of moments. I don’t know if it was the fact that I pushed past my gag reflexes when eating some sort of petrified sugar dumpling, or the fact that I realized I was considered foreign and instantly thrown out of my element into a cultural melting pot.
Australia definitely caught me by surprise with the many different cultures and foods that made their way into the city, plants and trees that look like they came straight from a Dr. Suess book, and especially their famous “pies” which were definitely not from Village Inn.
The first time biting into a meat (and what I think was gravy) pie when you’re expecting apple isn’t the most pleasurable of experiences. Other than misconceptions when ordering food, traveling abroad has changed my life, and my stay here as a student, only in good ways.
As a student, I’ve become so much more outspoken in my classes, met so many great professors and people and gained so much independence and freedom. Not to brag or anything, but my cooking skills have gone from microwave experience and cereal bowls to baking from scratch. Trust me, I’ve burnt a lot of things along the way, but my food actually tastes good now.
Studying abroad provides different paths for everyone, but I’d definitely recommend this program in a heartbeat. You can never explain in words how much a different country will affect you, but traveling has broadened my horizons and made me more open to try and do anything in my grasp.
I know from being here for three months so far I’ve taken for granted many things in my country, state and city that have made me feel a sense of discovery and excitement.
The Study Abroad Office at UTEP has opened doors for UTEP students as well as other internationals to experience UTEP as well. Some of my new “mates” here loved El Paso so much they volunteered to show us “Americans” around Melbourne. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to see Australia than through this exchange program.
I’m halfway through my experience here in this beautiful country, and so much about me has been changed already. I have three months of traveling and trying new things with new goals and new destinations. Not only has Australia turned my view of the world upside down, it’s changed my opinions of myself completely. I have been so lucky to have this opportunity and I’m not about to let it or any others go to waste.
See some of Audrey’s photos on page 3.
Audrey Russell is a photographer at The Prospector and is participating in a student exchange program in Melbourne, Australia. She may be reached at email@example.com.