Myself, having been raised between the lands that border Europe, I seized the opportunity to experience an entirely new continent; Australia. What a wonderfully different and amazing culture it is in its own right. There exists a unique atmosphere while somehow managing to reveal a hint of the European culture I remember so well from years before. From the first step off the plane I found myself surrounded by smiling faces and quickly lost what little anxiety that might have snuck over with me. Sydney was just a quick stopover on the way to my university, the Australian National University, in the capitol city of Canberra.
Canberra itself is a city bustling with culture, academia and government; a mix worthy of any European country's capitol city and the people bear true testament to Australia's national motto of 'No Worries' as their good natured spirits shine from them in a way that would disarm even the most skeptical traveler. On top of housing the parliament and the country's national university, Canberra is home to several museums, libraries, archives and countless parks and lakes. Perhaps best of all, the cities cultural mix ensures a wealth of international cuisines as well.
While in Australia, I did my best to stray away from those foods common to us here in America and found it very easy (and healthy at that). More valuable however than merely eating exotic foods at international restaurants, I was privileged to actually cook many of the same meals under the guidance of my international friends in the kitchens of my university. Almost every night provided me with the opportunity to cook Indian, Chinese and Korean foods and of course, several meals consisted of a good Kangaroo steak with roasted pumpkin, an Australian favorite. J
Having roughly the same landmass as the United States, Australia houses climates and natural wonders that rival our very own. From scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and exploring the hills of the Daintree National Rainforest, to traversing the barren lands from which rise the Aboriginal sacred sights of Uluru (Ares Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and even running a marathon alongside a family of whales on The Great Ocean Road, I found that ones opportunities for travel and exploration were limited only by their own sense of adventure.
Of all that I came to love in Australia, nothing stands out as much in my mind as the friends I made along the way. I can not begin to pen the appropriate words to sing their praises. They are a people of big hearts and their generosity carries with it a genuineness that one can't help but strive to emulate.
Beyond all the foods, museums, natural wonders and people, the experiences I have been blessed with will travel with me all of my days. Though I have spent more of my life outside America than in it, even still, I am pleased to find an experience like this offers still more personal growth. The change that surges through you is one that can not be adequately explained and must be personally experienced in order to have an appropriate appreciation of the impact it truly has. So, to all who read this, all with the slightest sense of adventure and all who would step outside of their own comfort zone because they recognize what a magnificent world lies beyond our shores, go, I implore you, and experience it for yourself. Embark on your own adventures that you will share with friends and family so that one day you too will be able to say "I went and I have seen and I have done." The world awaits.