Kate Studying Overseas at Millikin University in Illinois, US
As I am sitting here reflecting on my experience overseas I have so many emotions running through me. Being here in America is so surreal and I find myself every day finding it hard to believe I am actually here. It’s true what Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
I left Australia full of nerves and excitement. The nerves are gone but the excitement still remains. I began my overseas adventure in San Francisco, California with a Topdeck Tour. On this tour I travelled from San Francisco, where I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and walked the quirky streets. Napa Valley was the next stop on the tour, Mariposa then to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite was the most incredible and breath taking place I have ever experienced. Everywhere you turned it was like a default screen saver. I endured a long 13Km hike through Yosemite and it was a mentally and physically tough day I will never forget. Vegas, Nevada was then the next stop, again Vegas left me speechless. The weird and the wonderful all in one place, it truly is go big or go home. The Grand Canyon was a side stop whilst in Vegas and here I decided to splurge and go on a helicopter tour over the Canyon. The moment the helicopter flew over the rim my body was filled with a sense of euphoria, it was completely mind blowing. The feeling of fear, excitement and pure wonder filled the atmosphere of the helicopter as we made our way around the Canyon. Los Angeles was the last stop of the tour. I spent two days here with two friends and experienced the excitement of Santa Monica Pier and the Californian vibes of Venice Beach as we rode our bikes along the beach front.
Then the day came where I was off on my own to Illinois, I was up so early for my flight that I didn’t have time to comprehend that I was actually doing this, I was about to embark on the adventure all by myself, the adventure I had been waiting so long for. I arrived, tired and nervous for what the next few months were going to bring me, I waited for the Millikin crew to arrive and take all of the international students back to campus. The bus ride back I was questioning whether I was ready for the unknown, whether I had made the right decision to do this. As soon as I arrived at Millikin University in Decatur Illinois I felt comforted and at home by all of the welcoming personalities.
Every day brings a new adventure where I think to myself how grateful I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people. The friends I have made here at Millikin will be lifelong friends and the memories that we have shared I will cherish forever. I have had so many awesome experiences, from my first American College Football game, late night study sessions and to the simple things like observing the seasonal change from summer to fall. I am that typical tourist that I stop every time I see a squirrel run up the tree or play in the grass. Millikin University is a small university with only 2100 students. But the things I love most is that every day I can walk around and I will see people I know and that in class I am not just another student. I have made connections with people from all different areas from, athletic teams to fraternity’s and sorority’s. I have days where I am like “omg that is so American”, eating in a cafeteria, shopping at Walmart, red solo cups and walking to class and eating a Poptart because I ran out of Vegemite, are just a few.
Studying overseas was the best thing I have ever done and I am so thankful that I chose to go out of my comfort zone and venture out into the world all by myself. Meeting new people and sharing experiences changes you as a person and opens up your eyes to the opportunities and adventures that are out there.