I am in love with Australia: the people, the weather, the places and everything in between. Though only a week has passed since my arrival, I already see myself returning. And every time someone mentions I only have 5 months left, I cringe. While I love my friends and family back home, I have yet to feel homesick once. It’s a bit overwhelming trying to satisfyingly summarize this past week of sunny days, but I will do my best by breaking it down to the simplest reasons Australia has taken my heart captive (insert “country colonized by convicts” joke here).
Reason #1: The People
I was told before boarding my first plane I was headed to the land of some of the kindest people in the world. While the thought was comforting, it wasn’t reality until my second plane hit the pavement in Melbourne. While waiting for my connecting flight to Adelaide, I met some native Adelaidians who eagerly shared everything I should do and see in the city. Then on the flight I sat next to an older couple who adopted me for a couple of hours and helped me into the airport, where I was greeted by two peers from St Mark’s College, the residential college I am staying at throughout my exchange program. A fro co (frozen Coke) from Macca’s (McDonald’s) and a night of games later, I had made my first friends. No need to have been so worried.
Even those I would not necessarily consider friends, such as the lady who set me up with a Westpac bank account, are unforgivably friendly. (“Unforgivably” because it’s nearly impossible to return their favors.) They say the Midwest is one of the friendliest parts of America, but we have nothing on the Aussies. They don’t just point you to where you need to go when you ask for directions, they walk you there. Now I think about it, I have yet to see an Aussie mad (except in jest). And that’s another thing. They all have a brilliant sense of humor and a resilience you wouldn’t expect in a county supposedly always trying to kill you with wildlife and riptides.
Not only are the locals amazing and full of stories, but being an international student has thrown me into a mix of people from all corners of the world. My tightest group of friends here met during international orientation week by a series of introductions to friends of friends. Now I’m regularly hanging out with friends from Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Chile, France, Lebanon and Egypt. Perhaps our similar situation of being students in a new country drove us together so quickly, but I already wouldn’t trade a single one of them for the world. Plans are already being made for traveling together and making home visits once the semester is over.
Reason #2: The Weather
If the people weren’t enough to get me out of bed with a smile every morning, the weather would be my motivation. Though a couple of days have been incredibly hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), I am loath to complain. Especially since my friends and family back home have been sending me shots of snow. I do not miss it and if I had a choice I would never return to it. My body was built for warmth and my mood was designed for sunshine. Here, I have plenty of both. They weren’t kidding when they said Adelaide is the driest Australian city either. The other day it rained for about five seconds. Though I’ve been told Adelaide can get cool in the winter, I am certain I will be the American out and about in short sleeves. I am also certain the Aussies will still be wearing thongs (flip-flops).
Reason #3: The Places
This section is better told in pictures than in words:
My first impression of my new home was my room at St Mark’s. A queen size bed, two-story tall ceilings and a fireplace were waiting for me. The rest of the residential campus is beautiful too: the lawns are large, the buildings are old and architecturally interesting and the flora are labeled in case you’re interested in knowing their names.
I didn’t get to see the city until the first day, but as cliché as it sounds the first glimpse took my breath away. Though the city of Adelaide is large and reasonably busy, the streets and parks are also large which helps the whole place breathe. The public transportation is easy, and from my location nearly everything is within walking distance. The walks are not dull either, but colored by the River Torrens, the numerous sculptures that hint at the artistic bent of the city and the birds (only found in zoos at home).
If the city was breathtaking it was nothing compared to the campus of Uni (University of Adelaide). IU is comparably beautiful, but not quite as full of waterfalls and bridges covered in locks left by hopeful lovers. It is unreal thinking I will be taking classes there and eating lunch on the lawns in a week.
One of the seasonal highlights here is the Adelaide Fringe and the accompanying Garden of Unearthly Delights. The festival celebrates non-traditional arts, and the Garden is full of food and drink vendors and shows. I even braved one of the pop-up fair rides with a little bit of cider courage, then spent the rest of the night laughing with my international friends as we took up three benches under the light-strung trees.
Before I left for Australia, I swore I wasn’t going to touch the water. Instead I ate my words the third day and dove into the Gulf St Vincent off of Glenelg Beach. The salt stung my eyes only at first and the water was pleasant, but everyone kept looking out for sharks. Adelaide is fairly safe from shark-traffic compared to Sydney or Melbourne, but even a dolphin fin would have had us out of the water in seconds.
During a break in the international orientation schedule, a few friends and I grabbed our cameras and headed to the Botanic Gardens of South Australia. A better decision has never been made. But you’ll have to see for yourself.
This is my walk to and from Uni every day. Enough said.
Reason #4: Everything in Between
By now I hope it’s understood why I never want to leave. But just in case someone is in need of a few more reasons: Tim Tams, Chupa Chups lollipops, the barby (barbecue), field trips to Victor Harbor, the sincerity of “no worries, mate” and this photo.