Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Olivia in Australia!

“Olivia Alston can you please come to gate number 37.” I nervously got up and walked over to the desk.

The worker at the desk asked for my student visa, and that is when everything hit me. I am really going to live the next four months in Australia.

My name is Olivia Alston and I am a Junior Kinesiology major with a minor in American Sign Language. I am studying abroad at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia for their T2 semester. While having the chance to stay on campus, I pretty much have the best roommates. Can you believe the first night we all made a pie together?

Standing at the Deakin University sign on campus
Not only were my roommates nice and welcoming, but the residents of Australia were all nice. I was not the only one from UNCG who went to Deakin, but I still wanted to gain more friendships. I joined one organization, and a study abroad group, which led me to many great friends. I needed to keep myself busy because I only had school 2 days a week here. While I am here I have met many friends, traveled to other countries and cities around Australia, learned how to ride public transportation, has done some cool excursions, but the best of all is learning more about myself!!!

Usually, in a new environment, I am usually the person that waits to be talked to, an introvert. Being in a new environment has motivated me to come out of my shell. I have made friends in the study abroad group, in a Christian club, 2 churches and also in my classes. The friendships that were made here are genuine, honest, and encouraging. My friendships have encouraged me to understand their culture. I have met people from Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Kenya, Vietnam, Korea, China, European areas, and Australia. Having a wide range of friends have taught me a little bit about their culture. My favorite learning experience has to be the time when Christian Union had desserts from many countries. There was Pandan Cake from Southeast Asia, Ice Kachang from Malaysia, Gajar Ka Halwa from India, and Lamington from Australia. I had fun eating desserts and learning where they came from.

Melbourne is the second-largest city in Australia. They have the biggest malls I have ever seen and the best public transportation. While being in Melbourne, I have grown to be comfortable when riding public transportation because my sense of direction has been improving.

It was the first weekend in Australia, and the study abroad group decided to host a scavenger hunt around downtown. Once we made our groups, the scavenger hunt began. A few of my favorites spots were the AC/DC Lane, Melbourne Central and the many detours my group took along the way. Not only did I have fun with getting to know new people, but I learned more about how to get around the city.

My scavenger hunt group at one of the stops

At Deakin University, the students are less dependent on the school. There are no cafeterias, very minimal activities on campus, no sports team, and not a lot of residential housing. A lot of changes had to happen so I can adapt to my new norm. Cooking and creating desserts are starting to grow on me. My favorite so far is the honey bun cake I made. At Deakin University I also only have classes 2 days out of the week, Tuesday and Wednesday. I thought managing a busy schedule back home was difficult, but trying to make yourself busy is a lot harder. There is not much to do on campus, and downtown is about 1 hour away from our school. With much free time, I have gotten into the habit of working out, self-reflecting, and treating myself in my spare time.

The nature trail park near the school where I run

Being abroad has made me less dependent on my family and friends back home, it has helped me notice who I am becoming. Having more spare time has awarded me the time to self-reflect and notice how I have been changing, a positive change. Being here has helped me learn who I am without factors back home that could alter it. I love the transformation that has happened in Australia, I love the new me.

Lucas and I at the Queen Victorian Winter Market

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