Vitoria Spoorenberg, University of Sydney
Reflecting on my time abroad is difficult because truthfully, I never wanted it to end. The hardest part of studying abroad was leaving. I can confirm reverse culture / re-entry shock is real.
The reason why so many clichés about studying abroad exist is because there is no other way to put it; studying abroad truly was the most incredible experience of my life. I made friends that I know will be there for life, who bring out the best in me and make me laugh for hours on end. I travelled to the most insanely beautiful places and made memories that I will carry with me forever.
To echo yet another cliché, I learnt so much from studying abroad. Navigating the challenges of studying abroad and constantly meeting new people has given me more confidence in myself. Traveling with great people, being around beautiful nature, having no real plans and being off the grid for days also taught me how important it is to just stop and enjoy life sometimes.
These are certainly things I want to try and continue to apply in my life. I am excited to travel more, especially after all the money-saving travelling tips I have picked up (hostels; – here I come).
I clearly remember being very sceptical about the blog posts I read on this blog before leaving to Australia. I was scared that my experience wouldn’t live up to all these amazing experiences I was reading about on the blog. I was worried that I wouldn’t settle in, wouldn’t make any friends, find my modules difficult etc.
These are completely normal feelings to have before such a big change but I would urge anyone, who is currently in same boat as I was, not to worry.
Everything has a funny way of falling into place and I found that exchange students are particularly friendly – because everyone is in the same boat (trying to make new friends and make the most of their opportunities abroad!). At USyd, there’s also a lot of support from the uni if you’re having academic difficulties – I met up with tutors who were very helpful with new essay structures etc. I just explained to them that I was studying abroad and didn’t know what their expectations were etc.
On the days that I would feel the homesickness kicking in, I would do fun things with my friends, talk to my parents and siblings or treat myself (a good movie, some chill time and your fave junk food works miracles).
I would strongly encourage anyone who is debating whether to study abroad; to do it. It’s new, exciting and may be slightly scary but I’m sure you’ll love it. Feel free to message me (Vitoria Spoorenberg on Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org on email) with absolutely any questions you have, would be more than happy to help!
Settling in again in the UK has been hard and feels quite strange at times. I catch myself missing Sydney and my friends at the most silly and random moments; like when I pull out an Oyster card instead of my trusty Australian Opal card. It’s a sad reminder that I’m not in Sydney anymore.
Thankfully, we live in the modern era where new friends are only a Facetime away and budget flights are a thing.
I’m also trying to focus on how lucky I am that I had the experience I did. I remind myself of the slightly cringe and cheesy quote; smile because it happened, don’t cry because it’s over. I’m eternally grateful for the experience and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
You were an absolute dream and more than I could have ever expected.