By Grace Griffiths (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)
I want to go back in time and give past Grace a tap on the back for deciding to apply to study abroad. Recently, motivating myself to work has felt like wading through mud whilst carrying a panda bear. I don’t know why a panda bear – it was the first heavy thing that sprung to mind. I may be alone with the analogy but I know I’m not alone with the feeling – exam season can be a bit soul destroying for all of us. You can imagine then, how nice it is and how lucky I feel that as soon as I’ve cleared this hurdle there’s a sunny and exciting adventure ahead! People keep on asking me if I’m scared, and I know that in theory I should be, but at the moment my departure date can’t come soon enough! I don’t think the reality of it has sunk in yet. Although rationally I know that Australia is really far, and that I’m there for a really long time, there’s something in my mind that just isn’t quite grasping the concept. At the moment it’s just the next thing to do on my mental checklist. First, pass exams. Second, go to Australia. Third, understand that I’m there.
I’m leaving on 26th January which is exactly a week’s time. A week!! That’s insane. I think that’s another reason why it hasn’t sunk in yet – it still feels like ‘that cool thing’ that I’m doing next semester. But life has a habit of fast forwarding without you realising it, and next semester is in fact in one week. Actually I tell a lie, second semester in Manchester starts in a week. At ANU it doesn’t start until 16th February. This opens up a nice little three week window to do some travelling, so my friend Louby and I have decided to take a week of this and spend it in Sydney! Louby is also at Manchester University – she does Linguistics and is studying in Melbourne next semester.
In terms of organising the trip, we’ve had a few blunders. We both left our visa applications quite late and didn’t want to book any flights or hostels or anything else until they had been confirmed. When it got to 8th January and I still hadn’t heard anything I began to panic. So I called up the visa office in Australia and, after spending an hour in a phone queue which cost me £7.20 trying to find out why my visa hadn’t been granted yet, I discover they’d sent my mum an email of confirmation two days after I applied. Whoops, wasn’t expecting that! I thought I’d put my mum as an emergency contact, not sole contact! We had originally intended to get to Australia before the 26th January because that’s Australia Day and we wanted to join in the celebrations, but by the time the visa fiasco had been sorted the flights had rocketed up in price, and we decided to postpone.
Packing is another process that is slightly daunting. I’ve got to pack everything I need for six months at Uni into one bag weighing less than 30kg. This sounds completely feasible, but if I think about how full the car was when mum dropped me off in Manchester for first semester, I’m going to have to significantly cut down! Not to mention that I haven’t even started packing, and I don’t return home from Manchester until two days before I leave. This is entirely my own fault of course, but rushed packing doesn’t bode well for remembering everything I need. My frazzled brain is bound to forget something!
Anyway, I have procrastinated enough from doing real work for the time being. I will post another blog once I am there. For now – back to revision, drinking coffee and saying my goodbyes!