Exploring my Biggest Takeaways

To be perfectly honest, being abroad has rewired my brain in ways I didn’t even know were possible. Almost all that stems from being subjected to so much change in such a short amount of time. My most prominent and arguably most important takeaway would be that change is inevitable and necessary for growth, and to lean into that change.

I didn’t know what I was expecting going into these 6 months, but I never expected this much this fast. At points it was very overwhelming how different my life is from back home. Coming to a new country and getting used to the norms, making a whole new set of friends, having experiences I would never have predicted a year ago; it’s all very exciting but also very terrifying. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to become comfortable with the change and feeling uncomfortable. One of my main goals going into study abroad was to figure out who I was when all my comforts were stripped of me, and the mindset that evolves from leaning into change while being in a completely new environment has driven more self-discovery and growth. I find myself being a more introspective, spontaneous, thoughtful, and caring person, essentially who I was before but in an even bigger and confident way.

My second biggest takeaway is to enjoy spending time with yourself. Being on a semester abroad without anyone else from Pitt, this was almost forced upon me especially during my first few weeks in Australia. I found myself with a lot of free time and a lot of places to explore, so I started taking myself on dates and I realized that I really enjoy my own company. It is hard to transition from having a lot of friends back home to a clean slate (I will not sugar coat that), but I think this led me to being more comfortable and honest with myself about who I am and what I value when nobody else is watching, which in turn exponentially increased my confidence and made me grow as a person.

My final takeaway is to appreciate the friends you make. I loosely knew one person going into this exchange, but I made so many incredible friends along the way. The full-time students I met have such diverse backgrounds and are teaching me so much through hearing about their experiences from all over the world and in Australia. I’ve found comfort in how they’ve helped me break out of my shell and pushed me into new experiences all throughout Melbourne. Similarly, the other exchange students and I have gone on so many adventures, travelling around Australia and New Zealand, and making memories for a lifetime. I’ve realized recently that my time with them is so short, and I will miss them all immensely when my semester ends.

Obviously there have been a lot of adjustments I’ve had to make to my life to assimilate in this new environment. I’ve had to figure out new currency, a tram system, a whole new grading scale. I’ve had to learn to enjoy food like sausage on white bread (fake hot dogs). But the biggest lessons I’ve learned transcend those things. They’re internal. They showed me I am strong, resilient, and capable of anything, and the people I’ve met are the same. Even though my time in Australia is temporary, I appreciate that those lessons and memories will last forever.

picture description: Me looking over a cliff after a (very long and steep) hike in Queenstown, NZ over mid-sem break!

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