The exchange kid

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Last month was finally time for me to bid farewell to kangaroo land, and I have only just accepted that it’s (sadly) time to get back to reality.

After the spontaneous, drunken decision, two weeks before I packed my life into a suitcase, to move to the other side of the world; I have come back with a massive smile on my face that’s proving difficult to wipe off.

Note taken: that extra G&T was definitely worth it.

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It’s been a whirlwind five months, an extraordinary experience so to speak. No, I wasn’t your typical exchanger. Due to my last minute decision, I had a small budget (thanks Student Finance) to live from, however I was encouraged to immerse myself into the Australian culture and meet the locals, whilst the exchange kids were jetting away – which is something that I’m forever grateful for.

Being down under is a holiday in itself, and I was fortunate enough to study in a city like Sydney, where I had to pinch myself every time I set foot on its streets. The Harbour Bridge and Opera House just oozed magic – it could never get old.

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Over the course of my journey, I have discovered that yes, Australia is HUGE, it is as expensive as I heard it was, and the endless sunshine is indeed a blessing. The heaps of serene, untouched beaches are just sublime and the locals rarely miss an opportunity to say hi to a stranger in the street.

The way Australian’s speak is more than just an accent, and their vernacular can leave both Brits and foreigners completely baffled. Yes, ‘thongs’ are flip flops, and a ‘durry’ a cig.

Booze and coffee is an Aussie’s religion; where I have been taught to drink like I never have before.

Learn to love ‘goon’.

Drink it, share it, chug it…

…and regurgitate it the next morning. It’s the only thing us students can afford. Oh yeah, and pints don’t exist – you want to order a ‘schooner’ (thank me later).

I saw first hand their endless love affair with pokies (fruit machines), which take up 70% of any local pub or club, and soon discovered that they will ALWAYS find time for brunch – where menus are never short of an avo (avocados). Bottle-O’s – not supermarkets – are the place to fetch your alcohol, Tim Tams give Oreos a run for their money and chicken salt has found itself its newest big fan (me).

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Despite all this, I have returned home with some valuable life experiences to share with those who have, or who may be considering studying abroad (oh dear, I am THAT exchange kid).

I have learned to be selfish, taking every opportunity that occurs. There is so much the world has to offer, and being a student in a foreign country is so unique in itself.

For anyone who suffers from FOMO, you will soon realise that you are fortunate enough to have been given an opportunity that other people will be missing out on. Besides, everyone is still going to be there when you get back.

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I have learned to make the most of the people you’re with – blink and it’ll be over. Australia has given me lifelong friendships that I never thought it was possible to have… and the best thing? I now have a valid excuse to go back and see them.

Saying that, exchange exposes you to so many different nationalities – not just the Aussies, which connects you with people from all over the globe. Pretty cool, right? Whether they are Italian, Canadian, Norweigan, French, Palestinian or even English … these people all contribute to your experience and are people I will never forget. I have left feeling immersed in so many different cultures.

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I’ve learned to say yes to the things I wouldn’t normally do at home, where I was taken to places that I would never normally think of.

Open yourself up to everything and anyone – you never know what or who you may fall in love with. So, travel if you can – see all the sights the country has to offer. And of course, remember and cherish the little things – the sunrises, sunsets, the stargazing and the getaways.

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The minute I arrived home, my whole time there felt like a dream, as if I’d taken my very own trip to La La Land. I am, however, left with some very fond memories of my time spent out in Sydney.

And although I didn’t ride into the sunset with my hunky, bronzed Aussie, I have returned with a completely different outlook on life in general.  Having matured, and left feeling like a more knowledgable person, I am excited to return to my home Uni, that is Cardiff (Yes, FAD, the SU and VKs are waiting for me).

So, if there’s anything you should take with you from this post, is that I urge you to be ‘that exchange kid’.

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Bloody oath I’ll miss it.

 

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