I never expected to become so attached to a place so far from home. I’d heard talk about studying abroad but just assumed it wasn’t practical or attainable. Three friends from my course were looking into doing the exchange and convinced me to go into the international office. The Study Overseas team were so encouraging and reassured me that there was no reason I couldn’t do the exchange. A few months later after filling out some documents and meeting with a few people, I was on my way to study abroad at Elon University, in North Carolina, USA.
I choose to study in the U.S because I really wanted to experience ‘college life’. I’d travelled to America before but my time as a tourist was nothing like what I got to experience as a student. Being immersed in a different culture I was always so captivated by everything going on around me… there was never a dull moment. My American friends were equally intrigued about Australia. I was forever laughing at them trying to imitate my accent and answering questions about snakes, spiders and kangaroos. They teased me when I pronounced ‘banana’ and ‘tomato’, and the fact that we apparently drag out the ‘o’ in ‘so’. There were times people couldn’t quite understand what I was trying to say because of my Aussie slang. I had some confusing conversations with people because the Australia definitions of certain words didn’t match the America meaning (chuck, keen, jumper, thongs, the list is endless).
I was shocked to find that winter is a real thing! Living most of my life on the Sunshine Coast I’d never REALLY been cold before. I was so excited the first day it snowed; school got cancelled for about two weeks so I got to live out my childhood dreams. Everyone in my apartment block had a snow fight, built snowmen and ate real snow cones. I lived with 7 other girls in one suite so really it was just like one big sleepover every-night. The first night I arrived at midnight surprised to find my new suitemates jumping up and down excitedly screaming “she’s here!” (needless to say they were sorority girls). They were so lovely and very welcoming as was everyone else at college. Two of my professors even emailed me asking to take me out to dinner! When I meet them I was greeted with a big hug and such sweet, southern accents.
It was so hard saying goodbye to everyone but thankfully social media makes it so easy to keep in touch. After studying, I caught up with the other Australians who had studied abroad in different parts of the U.S for a road trip. I had the time of my life and am beyond grateful for the opportunity!
By Holly Barker