Exactly one year ago, on this day and around this time I was on board a flight from L.A to Melbourne, Australia. I can remember my exact feelings of nerves, readiness, and excitement bundled into one as I woke up from my nap and peered out the window to get my first ever sneak peak of the Las Vegas strip. I was so excited to begin my adventure of seven months in Australia, but I was sad to leave my life back at home as well. I had slight tears in my eyes at the thought of not seeing my family for more than half a year, but I couldn’t believe what adventures would be in store for me down under.
I had been planning this exchange since I was in Grade 10. One of my friends that was a few years older than me had done an exchange to Australia and her life looked amazing. I was so intrigued that I spent two years researching the perfect university that would give me the best opportunity for an international exchange. Low and behold, it was Nipissing University. With Nipissing being such a small university, it gave the international committee a chance to personally get to know me. It was also easier for my professors to get to know me well enough to write me a good reference letter that would give me a better chance.
I cannot stress it enough that this exchange was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I admit I was nervous to go half way around the world all by myself, however, going by myself gave me such an opportunity to open up and fully get to know myself as well. I was completely alone, and that forced me to do things that I never thought I would do. For example, I went skydiving with no one for emotional support, I went bungee jumping alone, I went scuba diving alone, etc. However, when I went to these events I met so many people that I completely forgot I was by myself. I made lifelong friends and did so many other eye-opening activities.
The best thing I did was going cage diving, when my worst and biggest fear in the entire world are sharks. I can now say I’ve literally faced my fear because I came face to face with five great white sharks. I was fortunate enough to have my brother visit me, so he was in the cage with me. At least I had moral support that time!
Throughout my exchange I also visited New Zealand, once again completely alone. Building life long friendships and doing more crazy adventures alone, I was embracing my independent side. This exchange has equipped me with international relationships that I can use for future networking opportunities. I cannot recommend going on an exchange enough, especially if you are going to Nipissing University. Not to mention, I completed my education while I was there too! It was a great relief from being stuck in cold North Bay, that’s for sure!
I hope that the message you got from this blog was to cease all the opportunities that you are presented in life, because accepting this opportunity gave me so many more in Australia.