Indiana University Overseas Study

PatrickB

G’day, mate! I am a 21-year-old upcoming junior in the IU School of Nursing in Bloomington, and I will soon be departing on a trip to the metropolitan paradise of Melbourne, Australia. You, on the other hand, are a curious follower—maybe a prospective study abroad student, maybe a friend following my journey across the country, or maybe a person with an interest in foreign culture. But there’s also a good chance that you’re probably just my mom or one of my grandmas.

Whoever you may be, I’m glad that you have stumbled upon this account of my journey and I hope this blog might allow you to enjoy this experience vicariously through me. You’re welcome, by the way, for the free ticket to the other side of the world—trust me, my ticket was nowhere near free.

If you were to ask any of my good friends what the definition of “Type-A” was, I’m sure they’d all just start describing me in detail. In fact, in comparison to most of the college kids I’m perpetually surrounded by, I’m still just about as regimented and over-prepared as they can handle. I have a 3.922 GPA (yes, carrying it out to the thousandth place does matter to me, okay?). I’ve already planned out my exercise, eating, and sleeping patterns for my fall semester, and I also decide major life decisions by weighing the pros and cons of each alternative mathematically in Excel.

Now, I don’t want to come off as preachy against my own breed; I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being Type-A. We are organized, punctual, efficient, ambitious, empathetic… and we basically just get stuff done. But with that being said, during my time as a freshman at IU, I learned a big lesson in the difference between being productively organized and being manically obsessive. I kept up a 4.0 my freshman year, but that wasn’t the only thing I was able to maintain—I was depressed, compulsive, anxious, irritable, irrational, and high-strung. And all for what? A number on a piece of paper? I eventually came to the realization that I was going to live my life, and that it didn’t have to be perfect for it to be awesome.

Before studying abroad, Patrick went skydiving

Before studying abroad, Patrick went skydiving to  overcome his Type A personality.

So, in an effort to begin enjoying my life more, I picked up skateboarding again, started going to gymnastics open gyms, went out with my friends on the weekends, jumped out of a plane, went on bike rides, took random weekend excursions, and generally just had more fun. This past year at IU, I still worked really hard—the good ol’ Herman B Wells Library remained my home away from home, but I could study with the knowledge that an A- wasn’t the end of the world. Seriously, my biggest fear in life is seaweed (let that sink in for a second), but I think my second biggest fear last year was the little dash that might come after an A if it got below a 92%. When I called my grandma and told her about my revelation about my grades, she replied, “It’s because you’re getting more confident. I don’t think you need a 4.0 to convince yourself that you’re smart anymore.” She couldn’t have been more right.

You might be wondering, what does all of this have to do with Australia? Well, my friends, this trip is the product of my transformation. Last summer, I was all signed up to study abroad in Africa, but my fears of the unknown squashed those plans like a bug and left me twiddling my thumbs in my hometown for the duration of the summer. This summer, I vowed not to let what I couldn’t control/predict get in the way of a potentially life-changing experience. And boy, am I glad I did.

Now maybe I’ll always be a little bit too organized, a little bit too controlling, but I like to (jokingly) blame part of that on genetics—I think my mom’s mantra goes something like, If there’s a will, and a spreadsheet, there’s a way. But I have grown up enough to realize that this part of my personality does not have to prevent me from doing the things that I love.

Maybe I did compare the Australian grading scale to ours, maybe I did sift through tons of reviews of the apartments I’ll be staying in, maybe I did sneak a peek at the itinerary of our excursion to the outback. But you know what I didn’t do? Chicken out because of what I couldn’t control, stay at home for the summer because it was safe. And most notably, I didn’t let what scared me a little keep me from doing something that will benefit me a lot.

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