Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

Around America in 14 Days!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve updated on this blog. When I first got to America I would read over and over all of the things everyone had to say about it getting better and making friends and all that jazz. Now that I’ve finally made all of my friends, fit in with an amazing bunch of people and started to feel at home, I am beginning to see that I just couldn’t imagine leaving this place just yet… no matter how much I miss my family.

A word of warning to anyone contemplating going overseas for a year – think long and hard before leaving your family, especially if you’re like me and are really close to each and every one of the (eek!) 15 members of your family (small, I know).

The greatest thing about being in America… the US of A… is the ability to get anywhere you want to go… no matter how small of a town you live in (I live in a college-dedicated town), you are able to travel the country, relatively cheaply, at the drop of a hat. Let me explain…

Since I’ve been here – I arrived in January – I have been to the following places:

– Whitewater (my hometown in Wisconsin).

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Whitewater is a teeny tiny little town with no public transport and no craziness. I thought it would be an issue at first, but I’ve really come to love it and be proud to call it home. This place is the most school-spirited and community based town i have ever had the pleasure and blessing of stepping into. I can’t wait for it to snow again and I can’t wait to go back to Whitewater and start my second semester!

– Sterling, Illinois (my summer home, the house of Americans that adopted me for the year).

Sterling, IL

A little place in Illinois that I have the pleasure to call my home for the summer. This place is filled with a family that has no problems helping everyone and anyone that needs anything. The people that fill this house have welcomed me into their home for three months, not allowing me to give them any money, simply because their daughter is my best friend here. I am sad to leave this place after summer, but I am even sadder to leave these people at the end of my exchange. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to have had to honour of getting to know and love.

– Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. 

Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee was my first adventure out of Whitewater. Another Australian that was attending my school joined me on our couch-surfing trip to Milwaukee where we were at last free to explore sights other than our tiny town. This opened the door for our travel bugs to itch us constantly until we got out and enjoyed this country. Milwaukee was beautiful and snow-packed and just great, a perfect first adventure in America.

– Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago, IL

Chicago is amazing, one of the greatest cities I was able to see. My first experience in Chicago was a concert for the band Cake with the family I’m staying with over the summer. We went to this outback steakhouse where they served things like a dessert named “Chocolate thunder from down under” which sounded quite peculiar to me!

– Hollywood, LA, California (my first trip – SPRING BREAK).

Hollywood, CA

Hollywood was a mind blowing experience, the most surreal one I’ve ever had. Walking the walk of fame and knowing all of the celebrities had been exactly where I’d been was a crazy feeling. We of course did all of the touristy stuff like Hollywood Blvd, The Sunset Strip, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers Lot and all of that. All of it was amazing, and I can’t wait to go back there – and maybe even take some of my family along.

– Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is a really amazing amazing place. The lights, the people on the street, the WALKING, it’s all crazy in general but definitely an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss.

– New York City, NY.  

NY, NY.

– Niagara Falls, CA.

Niagara Falls, CA.

Niagara Falls is my favourite place on earth. That is all.

– Toronto, CA.

Toronto, CA.

Toronto was our last stop before we went back to Milwaukee and Chicago – two places I’ve been multiple times. It was great coming back and settling back in. I love traveling, but I love my own bed.

So now, in two weeks I’m headed home. But not before I go to Disney. On Monday at 4.45pm I will be on a plane to (freakin’ hot) Florida for Disney World for 7 days. Staying on the property and having tons of fun. After the holiday it’s 3 days at home and then back onto a 27hr flight home. FUN. Even though I was meant to stay until the end of the year, I have no regrets and am excited to be seeing my family again.

So to all the people getting ready to jet off to  a magical new place for 6 months or a year, make sure you have skype ready and your family willing to get on camera (my Mum isn’t willing and it made things veeerrrryyy difficult).

Some ‘Engrish’ I have noticed that I thought you all might find funny (especially if headed to the USA):
+ Next year may mean next school year. Every time one of my friends says next year she means next semester and I think she’s talking about 2012!
+ Sucker = Lollipop (they only say lollipop to young kids… they called it juvenile)
+ Peppers = Capsicum (and if you tell them you want capsicum their jaw will hit the ground in confusion)
+ You will notice that we shorten many words and add a ‘y’ or ‘ies’ to the end.
– Telly.
– Sunnies.
– Speccie.
– Breaky (Breakfast).

+ Truck = 4WD.
+ Truck = Ute.

These are just some to warn you guys. Be prepared to be looked at really strangely for majority of your visit. I’ve been here 8 months and it’s still happening. You WILL get sick of being the new shiny toy, I promise.

2 more weeks and I’m home. What a bittersweet ending to the journey I’ve been waiting for for years and years.

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2 responses

  1. jangothard

    Hi

    Quite a post, quite a journey. I am sorry it has come to a premature end but it sounds as if you have packed so much into it. What a privilege finding your ‘own’ family for a while and really getting outside the campus world to see how life is lived in the suburbs. How different was it from the Australian family scene? Did you change your ideas about the US at all after that experience?

    What were your (non-travelling) highlights? and let us know how you find things when you get home.

    Thanks for all your posts this semester/year

    Jan

    August 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm

  2. Tonia Gray

    A wonderful narrative and visual recountof your study abroad experience – the places, the people, the nuances, and “Engrish” — no doubt a transformational experience. Let us know how your transition back home unfolds.

    Warmly
    Tonia

    August 12, 2011 at 11:41 am

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