I’ve made it! I’m in the land down under!
The first week has been rough. I was consumed by homesickness, and had very little motivation to go out, meet people, and get settled in. I enjoyed spending time alone, and did not contact my friends and family back home, except to tell them that I had arrived safely. My suitcase was open, and my clothes were spilling out of it, but I didn’t have hangers to put them up in my closet. I didn’t even really want to put away my suitcase, or move it so that it wasn’t as obtrusive because seeing it on the ground reminded me that this was only temporary. My room was sparse, and I had brought three photographs with me from home, but they didn’t seem to be enough. I was miserable.
What changed? Well, nothing really. I went to Ikea and bought hangers, so I had no excuse to keep my suitcase lying around. I hung up my clothes. Our residence hall had a Valentine exchange on Valentine’s Day, and I gave and received plenty of Valentines with the people I had met. I decorated my room. I bought bowls and plates and silverware, and arranged my skincare products up on a shelf. I flipped through the pamphlets I had received upon arrival, and reached out to organizations that caught my interest. I talked to people at the mandatory resident information sessions, and agreed to go on a trip with a bunch of the other exchange students.
What I’m trying to say is that there wasn’t one moment where I decided to shed my homesickness and embrace Australian life. It was a series of small actions, prompted mostly by practicality, that helped me become accustomed to life as an exchange student. Meeting people and making friends is important to transitioning into Australian student life, but it can be hard to do when you really don’t want to leave your bed and are questioning your choice to voyage across the globe and start fresh. If the latter situation is where you’re at the first few days, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to wallow a little bit, and sit out on some of the social activities those first few days. No one remembers anyone’s name in the first week anyway. Explore the area a little bit on your own, and start making steps towards making your room more homely. Talk to people around you. The new-ness will fade eventually, and you’ll start feeling more comfortable. You just have to wait it out.