Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

University of Miami

So on tuesday I have been in the States for 3 weeks and 2 days. I have finally settled in and bought a lap top, mobile or cell as they call it here and all household items. It was a looong flight to get there as i had to go to from sydney to LA which was like a 13 hour flight and then from LA to miami was another 5 hours. When i got to Miami is was about 9pm so i decided to book a hotel. I ended up staying at a hotel in South beach which is like the Bondi of sydney. I was absolutely exhausted when i got there and all I wanted to do was sleep. My hotel however happened to be on the main strip where all the night life happens so I put my bags in the room and ventured out. I was gobsmacked at all the lights, tobacco shops, tattoo shops, pizza places and night clubs on this road. I walked along with caution as i didnt feel safe at all as it was my first night in the US. I ended up meeting some guys from Chicago and went clubbing with them. I ended up back at the room at 3am. With three hours sleep I woke up and got ready for orientation. Drained as I was a got up ate breaky at the hotel and then ordered a cab to UM. At orientation I met some of the other Aussie blokes and they said there was like 25 people from Australia on exchange here. I was the only one from UOW. Towards the end of orientation I left and wen to  my room and crashed, having not slept in nearly 48 hours.

When I lay down on the bed I was SHOCKED! The mattress was literally made out of some sort of plastic and was sooo uncomfortable. At this point i was sleep deprived, angry lonely and really missed home as this was the first time I would be away from my family for so long. I lay there freezing and trying to sleep thinking how am I going to make it through the next three months. It was not a good feeling, I had never felt like this before, I just wanted to go home. To everyone that thinks exchange will be really exciting and a great experience, think again. Post my departure I only thought about how good the experience would be and never even imagined how challenging it would be. Lying there I kept saying to myself its only you here, you have to be strong, I believed in myself, knowing that if i accomplish this i can do anything. This was a really good experience even though it was challenging, it gave me will power and strength.


3 responses

  1. Jan Gothard

    Sounds like you hit the ground running but boy, that honeymoon was over fast! I bet you have bounced back a little by now though. Sleep deprivation is the pits! It’s good that you are embracing the challenges though (hey, what choice have you got?) and I have no doubt you will look back and laugh.

    How have other students handled that long long flight? think of your poor fellow students from Perth who had the 13-hour Pacific crossing on top of a four hour flight across Aust before they hit LA! Not fun.

    Hope you have found some nicer bedding by now


    February 4, 2011 at 1:31 am

  2. tonialeannegray

    Hi Sahil —

    Very emotionally gripping post.

    I was vicariously experiencing your “separation” and “transition” issues. You were spot on when you said that before leaving, you (and most people) see it through rose coloured glasses, then the reality check kicks in.

    It is tough. Damn tough. But adversity and challenge builds character and imagine how much more resourceful and resilient you will be as a consequence.

    I hope you get over the culture shock and fish-out-of-water phase soon… and that things look brighter for your stay in USA.

    February 4, 2011 at 4:27 am

  3. egorsky

    I have to reply to this post because the first day I arrived in LA I felt exactly the same. My first week here was the worst. I didn’t have an official orientation so I had to walk around campus and discover everything on my own (UCLA is a massive campus). I had arrived on one of the coldest days, and my room did not have heating. I lay awake in bed for most of the night thinking about home.

    I guess prior to departing I thought I’d get a great big warm welcome from the university, but sadly that did not happen! It’s really quite a lot more difficult than I imagined, there’s a lot more independence involved and if you need help you have to force yourself to ask for it.

    I mean, really this is a great experience but it’s not easy at all. I can safely say that not everyone is cut out for exchange!

    February 5, 2011 at 11:27 pm

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