Six months later and I am now back home in California. It has been about a week since I’ve arrived back home in the U.S. after living and studying in Melbourne, Australia. Since I’ve been back, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience abroad. The quote by Miriam Adeney encapsulates my feelings at the moment – “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
Let’s start with my last day in Australia. After a week of saying goodbye to friends, closing accounts, and packing my things, I finally left Melbourne for San Francisco Bay Area. When I landed in San Francisco, the first thing I noticed was everyone driving on the other side of the road. My first week was spent seeing friends and family after so many months, as well as noticing new things about home that I hadn’t noticed before leaving for Australia — standing and walking on the right side of the sidewalk, and the difference between greetings among strangers, humor, and TV commercials. Noticing these differences and realizing the change that’s occurred within me during my time abroad has placed me between the seventh and eighth stages of reverse culture shock. I miss my life in Australia but because of how similar the environments are I am quickly adjusting to life at home and getting back into my routines. Though I miss the amazing Melbourne coffee, easy public transportation (trams are fantastic!), and the friendliness that seems to be a part of Australian culture, I am happy to be back to my friends, family, and comforts that I have at home.
The life I had in Australia for the past six months has influenced a change in my ideology and plans for the future. I have realized my love of travel, exchange of cultures, and desire to further my education. Living and studying abroad these past few months has made me realize how I thrive in such an environment, and has galvanized me to apply for graduate programs abroad. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to apply for the Gilman Scholarship to do so, as it has made this life-changing experience possible. Thank you to the Gilman Program, and all those who make this possible!