Indiana University Overseas Study

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Any true love story goes something like this: First there is an initial attraction between two. Then comes the pursuit of one by the other, but not without some sort of conflict. Something is always in the way—whether it’s distance, love that isn’t returned, or the dreadful parents keeping two lovers apart. Then comes a sigh of relief when the two overcome obstacles and are actually able to fall head over heels in love with each other, and in the end they live happily ever after (thank you, Disney).

I like to think that Australia and I have our own little love story going while I’m here, and I’d like to let you in on it.

When arriving in Australia, I was blown away by the newness of every tree, flower, insect, and animal that I had never seen before. You might even say it was love at first sight flying into the Sydney Airport!

Then comes the chase. It’s been easy to see how Australia has been wooing me with the perfect sandy beaches on one side of Wollongong, lush green mountains on the other. There are flocks of bright red cockatoos that always greet me in the morning on my walk to class, and the Opera House in Sydney is even better than all the pictures make it out to be; it is truly remarkable sitting on the edge of the Sydney Harbor.

kangaroos

Pure happiness while befriending some kangaroos

opera house

The view of the Opera House never gets old!

So here comes the conflict: In my case, Australia has definitely been pursuing me and not the other way around—I admittedly had not come in with the best of mindsets. I couldn’t help but feel homesick and I longed to be at home. I missed my fiancé (who had just proposed to me days before I left) more than I could have ever imagined and have never felt such a pit in my stomach like the one I felt my third week here, realizing I had to be away from him for 5 months. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy transition, and I wasn’t about to let Australia whisk me away from my home without putting up a fight.

So that’s just what I did—I ignored most of Australia’s beauty for a while. Don’t get me wrong, there have been lots of laughs, adventures, and memories made over the past few weeks here in Wollongong, but in the back of my mind I had been secretly counting down the days until I could come back home.

As the storyline progressed, I found myself taking a trip to the Blue Mountains this past weekend. One of the first places we hiked to was a lookout point over a section of the mountains. Words don’t do justice for the view that the overlook gave us, so I won’t even try to describe it, but just know that it was immense and it was incredible. It was one of those moments when you have no idea what’s about to hit you, but then it does, and it completely takes your breath away. There was practically no use of taking any pictures, because they didn’t do it justice. I wanted to stare into that valley of mountains long enough until I had the image ingrained in my mind forever.

echo point

Fun Fact: The Blue Mountains look blue because of the mist of oil that comes from the leaves of the Eucalyptus trees, which actually refracts blue light.

I like to think that hiking through those mountains was a turning point in Australia and my relationship. It took bringing me one Australia’s most beautiful sights to make me fall in love, but I sure did. I suddenly wanted to see more of Australia and I wanted to travel to every inch of this continent.

With all that being said, the story is surely not over. That weekend made me finally realize that there is so much for me here in Australia, and the most fun part about that will be the adventure of figuring it all out. There will continue to be ups and downs, but I truly believe that Australia and I will end up happily ever after in my time abroad.

van

Loving everything about whoever’s van this is!

Hollay Paddack - exploring the ecological diversity in Australia

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