Tag Archives: Study Abroad

Chapter Two: Hello Chicago

I’ve sat down at my computer several times over the last few weeks trying to write this post. I felt like I had a lot to say, and I was struggling to organize my thoughts into a concise post. This is my best attempt yet, so please bear with me.

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Chicago in Summer, a snap of the city from Lake Michigan in June

I moved back to the US this summer. This was the end of my four-year run in Sydney. It was a both a happy and sad decision to come back here. While in my heart I know it was the right choice and I’m excited for my next adventure, I can’t help but already miss Sydney. It had become a home to me.

One of the hardest parts of leaving Sydney was saying goodbye to friends. I had attended a lot of farewell drinks for friends leaving over the last few years before my own. Sydney felt like a very transient city at times, especially with so many of my friends being fellow expats. However, even my Australian friends were adventurous travellers and world-wanderers. It was never a guarantee that anyone would stay put, but I’m thankful for that experience too.

It was my friends in Sydney who taught me a lot about what it meant to travel and to see yourself as a citizen of the world. It’s been through watching them and their fearless approach to what’s ahead that I’ve gained a lot of my confidence to be away from home for so long, go places that I never thought I’d go, and see the world through new eyes. It’s a wonderful gift and something I’ll carry with me forever now. Thank you guys.

I’ve started a new job, working for The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) from their Chicago offices. They specialize in helping US students to study abroad in Australia, New Zealand, SE Asia and China. TEAN is the very same company that helped send me on that very first journey to Australia, as a study abroad student on the Gold Coast.

It’s a brilliant group of people that I’ve admired since I was a student with them. It feels very fitting that I’ve gone full circle to end up working for this company. I’ll now have the opportunity to help students take the first steps on their own journey.

One of our students wrote a blog post this week about her return back to the US from a semester studying in Shanghai, China. I thought that her description of how it felt to come back was beautifully told. It made me tear up reading it, thinking about my own recent return.

“There are places there to be discovered, they are just waiting for you to come.

Personally, I know about one that melted my heart.

Yes, China made me feel alive.”

Now please excuse my melted heart ❤

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Filed under Expat, Sydney, Travel

Living in a Material World

My love/hate relationship with commercialization in society…

cc license, newwavegurly

Christmas shopping is overdone and over commercialized in this country, but unfortunately it doesn’t stop with the holiday season. America is extremely materialistic and commercial year-round. This is something I had always known but didn’t start to understand until my first study abroad experience. I spend a semester in Australia last fall and one time on a trip to the grocery store I couldn’t find those little baby carrots. Definitely not a necessity and definitely not important item, but I still remember being slightly annoyed. I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted on my shopping list and that was a frustrating feeling for this spoiled American. I called my mom later to tell her about it and I’m pretty sure she laughed at me.

The point of this story is not that Australian grocery stores don’t stock baby carrots (in fact I’m pretty sure many do). My point is that after living abroad for four months I now have conflicted views on commercialization and convenience. I can’t deny that there are certain parts of American culture I adore. 24-hour Giant Eagle grocery stores would rank among the top of my list. I can’t help but favor certain brands. When I go shopping I like to have several choices. I know that if a shoe store doesn’t have my size they will often place and order with free shipping.

Unfortunately these same conveniences seem quite disgusting and shallow at times. I don’t like seeing two Starbucks across the street from each other, especially in place of a local café. While Australia was not completely free of this, it certainly wasn’t at the same level. It was common to see local restaurants and shops. Advertising wasn’t nearly as bad either. Some days it just felt like you had a little more room to breathe.

I’m considering moving abroad when I graduate making this topic even more relevant to my life now. I wonder if I would spend time enjoying a more laid back lifestyle or if I would miss certain conveniences back home. I would like to think I could live without excess on a daily basis, but I wonder how long it would take my mindset to change.

Do you ever feel like a material girl (or boy) living in a material world?

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Filed under Lifestyle