Meet Ana, an English Language with Creative Writing Undergrad at Bangor, currently on a study abroad in the land down under. We’ll be hearing from her every issue as she fights with spiders, wild roos and tries to get to grips with the Aussie lingo. G’day…
28 hours and exactly 10.551 miles away from home, with no friends and family and with my whole life packed into 30kg, I set off for my year long adventure to the land down under.
I held back my tears saying goodbye to my parents and friends at the airport as the realisation that I wouldn’t be seeing them for just over a year hit me. I ventured on to the plane with high hopes and a sense of adventure that soon died down 18 hours in when I started to severely hallucinate due to the lack of sleep, movement and dehydration.
Once I arrived it soon hit me that Australia wasn’t what I’d been expecting. I got off the plane in just a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops ready to be hit by a heat wave and instead was welcomed by heavy rain and strong winds. Of course I had forgotten that July over here is winter! Tired, cold and hungry, I wasn’t in the mood for jokes as the custom controller officer jokingly asked why on earth I would wear ‘thongs’, to which I replied with how offended I am, how dare someone ask me about my choice of underwear, only to be corrected that he meant my footwear – of course, how could I forget thongs over here are flip flops! So yes, my first hour in the country was not great; I wasn’t surrounded by surfers, nor did I see any wild kangaroos or koala’s roaming the streets of Melbourne. Clearly I arrived here with the most stereotypical view of Australia.
Upon arriving at my accommodation – an ex-detention centre – I examined the brick mould infested walls and was hesitant to use the bathroom in case I saw a spider in the toilet bowl. I proceeded to unpack – the horrendous 28 hour flight and one sleepless night on a deflated air mattress meant that I was extremely glad to have a bed to myself, not to mention a whole room.
Within minutes I had fellow residents knocking on my door, introducing themselves and giving me an insight on all of the residential gossip. The friendliness and openness of Australians is something to admire, to the extent that their kindness can also be mistaken for flirting. Their laid back and relaxed attitude definitely makes them more approachable and within days I felt like I belonged. Vegemite had even become my favourite breakfast choice.
I’ve done my fair share of travelling around Victoria, from the famous Great Ocean Road to the Grampians. The more university is nearing to an end and my plans of driving up the east coast are getting closer, the more I’m looking forward to seeing what Australia has to offer.