The final post of my sweet time abroad in the beautiful country of Australia. Wow. Never thought I’d be here. It’s always strange to me how days can feel long but weeks feel awfully short. Honestly, that is truly what study abroad has felt like: long days but insanely fast weeks. My time in Australia will definitely go down as one of the best seasons of my life. It truly surpassed anything I could have imagined and I will always cherish my Aussie friends and adventures.
A week before our finals, a large group of us a took a day trip to Wattamolla beach to hike, explore the area, and see the area’s greatest attraction: Wedding Cake Rock.
At first, we explored the main beach and took in the beauty of the surrounding area. The water is truly a stunning crystal blue and contrasted beautifully with the green trees and bright blue skies. After hanging around here for a bit, we continued along a long, windy path towards Wedding Cake Rock.
After hours, and I mean HOURS, of hiking along the path, we finally reached the destination: picture 3 is Wedding Cake Rock. Honestly, we were all not expecting it to look like that and there was a gate blocking anyone from getting close to it (with a $1300 fine for anyone caught jumping it) so we all laughed and joked around about how far we’d hiking to look at a white rock. Pretty hilarious! But, it was so much fun!! The whole day was filled with beauty, nature, exercise and good conversations with new and current friends. I feel like every day I see and appreciate something new in Australia. It was a blast to be around a both Australians and Americans all enjoying each other and having fun on this lil excursion.
After completing finals, which thankfully were not too bad and I feel fairly confident about all of them, I went on a road trip to Byron Bay with 5 of my closest friends: Allene, Ella, Jake, Jack, and Nathan. We took two cars, Nathan’s and Jack’s, and made stops along the way at Newcastle and Seal Rocks before reaching Byron Bay, where we stayed for 3 nights.
For our first day in Byron Bay, it was a cloudy day so we thought it could be best spent hiking rather than at the beach. We hiked Mount Warning, which was a super steep 8.8 km hike. When we reached the top, everyone was dripping in sweat and feeling the burn in our legs. Sadly, because it was overcast, it looked like we were in a cloud and we didn’t get to see the supposedly spectacular view from the top. Either way, we still had so much fun and it felt good to exercise after spending long hours in the car.
For day 2, we spent the day at Broken Head beach watching the boys surf, soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying the liveliness of families, friends, and couples around us. It as such a lovely environment! That night, we watched the sunset, listened to live music, and then went back to the airbnb to have brie and crackers while dinner cooked. It was a perfect day.
For our final day in Byron, the boys and girls split up and did our own thing for bit until meeting back up for dinner. The boys went a found an amazing waterfall and explored around. Ella, Allene and I went to a stunning beach and hiked around and swam there for several hours. After spending a long time there, we walked to the town for coffee and to check out a few fun shops. It was a super relaxing day and, although we sure do love the boys, it was some much needed girl time. When we all met back up, we watch another insane sunset on the beach. Truly stunning!
The next day, we made are way back towards Wollongong, stopping in Crescent Head and Port Macquarie on the way. This road trip was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on and hands down the best final “HOORAH” for my time abroad.
I miss this place immensely. Leaving Australia and the friends I made there was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to go through. I cried leaving my friends and family when I left for Australia even though I knew I would see them in a few months. Leaving these people, not knowing when I’d see them next, is what made it so emotionally rattling and hard to come to terms with. I’m still battling with it. I’ve been home a few weeks now and, at times, waves of sadness hit me and flashbacks and memories of Australia rise and I feel a deep longing to return. I go to the pool and can still vividly picture walking onto Fairy Meadow beach, running into the waves, and drying off in the warm sunshine.
When I made the decision to go abroad, I was super excited and praying that I would make wonderful friendships. However, I did not think I would find some of the best friends/people I’ve ever met who love me exactly the way that I am, even though I’m so different from them. None of my friends believed in what I believe or had the same passions and views on life, yet we formed deep, meaningful connections and I truly felt so at peace and comfortable with them. Although navigating post study abroad emotions has been a challenge, I would never do a thing differently. I have grown so much through this experience. I know it won’t be the last time I go through a significant change in my life, whether moving to a new city or starting adult life after graduation from OU, and this has only prepared me for the future change and challenges ahead. Change is hard at first. On my first night in Australia I balled my eyes out thinking I had just made a huge mistake. Then, 5 months later I’m in the car, crying harder than I’ve ever cried in my life ( I was an absolute wreck lol), because I’m headed to the airport for my flight back to Oklahoma. What a twist. Me in February would never have seen this coming or could have ever predicted this outcome. So, the next time I experience a drastic change, I’ll know that it will get better, whether it’s in a week, 5 months, or a year, it will get better.
Life is so good when we embrace situations and experiences with an open heart and positive attitude. I also think there’s a beauty in not setting expectations. In doing this, you get to be absolutely blown away by the outcome. I know I’ll be back to Australia and it will be the most beautiful reunion with my beloved friends there.
Goodbye, for now!