The month of April has proven to be quite the adventure! I was lucky enough to travel within the state of South Australia, as well as to other states across the country, and even to Indonesia!
Easter holidays in Australia are essentially the same as Easter holidays in Canada: time with family, and chocolate. However, instead of gifting someone with the beloved chocolate rabbit, there is the option to buy a chocolate bilby. I had no clue what this ‘chocolate bilby’ was, but the friends I have made here in the Village made sure I got the full Easter bilby treatment: a chocolate representation of the marsupial animal, chocolate eggs, and even a stuffed bilby to take home to Canada with me! I really enjoyed the slight difference in culture around the Easter holiday, as it was quite quirky. Although, with the holidays and time off of school made my feel a bit homesick. Most of the Australian friends I made were leaving the Village and going home for the long weekend to be with their families, something I would have done if I were back home. However, Living on campus at Flinders has made it so that I have a wonderfully large network of friends, and made it possible for myself and other international student to spend Easter in the town of Whyalla, a few hours away. The kind gesture was greatly appreciated, since most of us international students have been away for a few months now. For me, the Easter holidays were essentially the same as they were back home, but with a different Aussie twist.
My one piece of advice to anyone thinking about doing an exchange abroad, especially in Australia, is go travel as much as you can! The two-week break in April (and I hear there is one in September) gives you with the opportunity to go explore other parts of the country, or even countries nearby! The great part about living on campus and the international student community is that there are always people wanting to go travel, and most likely wanting to see some of the same things you have on your bucket list!
I was lucky enough to meet up with my friend from Canada during the two-week break in Melbourne for the comedy festival. *Another piece of advice would be to look up when music, wine, comedy, fashion etc. festivals are happening throughout Australia – you never know when your plans may overlap! Melbourne reminded me so much of Calgary it was mind-blowing. It was déjà vu of the freezing cold mornings, hot days, and then chilly evenings that I know all too well. The weather was more humid than Calgary meaning you literally feel the chill down to your bones – pack something warmer than a flannel! It was funny how something like temperature change from Adelaide could remind me of the weather back home; it was similar but also very different.
After Melbourne we were then able to meet up with some of my international friends in Sydney! Traveling with a group of people in the same boat as you really takes away a lot of the stress. Getting to see Bali, Indonesia was the icing on the cake for me. I have always wanted to go and now that it is so close by (well…closer than Canada) I am so glad that I got to make that dream a reality with new friends.
It can be a bit daunting attempting to travel without your family on one of your ‘classic family vacations’, and it can cause anxiety when you are planning to travel with people you haven’t really gotten to know yet; but just do it. It will be okay. I have learned that everyone feels similar anxieties, but we all love travel and create new experiences, that’s why we are all here! When in doubt just reach out to the friends you’ve made, or go hangout in the CC at the Village. There are so many helpful resources and outlets to connect people; after 2.5 months of living in Australia, the month of April has made me truly feel that this is my home now, and I couldn’t be happier.