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 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).
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 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 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 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.
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.
– Niagara Falls, CA.
Niagara Falls is my favourite place on earth. That is all.
– 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.
– 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.
I was meant to stay for the full year… but family issues are making me come home early. I’m still deciding whether or not it is the best decision, but really I’ll only be missing out on 4 months… I would have been here for 8. I think I’m at peace with the decision, I just hope I don’t regret it. I don’t think I will, but it will be a huge shock to go back to Australia 4 months before I was meant to. It seems meant to be though, there are just so many things going on I don’t think I can handle being on the other side of the world.
I’m so happy to have been here for the time that I have had… but I think I’m ready to go home.
A friend of mine and I went on our first trip out of our college town this weekend. We went to Milwaukee and we fell in love with it the second we got off of the bus! We went to some cool shops before meeting our couch surfing hostess Felicia, who took us back to her place – giving us a little tour along the way. After putting our bags down and relaxing for a while we decided to go ice skating, it was fabulous – just like rollerblading but a little bit harder. Both my friend and I forgot to bring our cameras so we didn’t get any pictures 😦 After that we just went home and had some sleep before waking up on Saturday and doing even more fun stuff.
We figured out the county transit system quickly as we made our way to Mayfair shopping mall in Milwaukee. Most of the locals think it’s an ‘okay’ store, not much happening in it and not many shops, but when Claire and I walked in, we were amazed. It was two storeys, shops from wall to wall. We saw American Eagle, Gap, A&F and all those awesome places. We went into a shop called Pacsun and managed to buy 4 things each for only a total of $21.00, we couldn’t believe it. They had a half price sale on and when you went to the counter they took another 50% off… unbelievable. It was also a really cool shop, had many Aussie surf brands like Roxy, Billabong, Quicksilver etc. It was great. After having a pretty productive shopping trip we decided to go home again.
Saturday night we went to an NBA basketball game. It was amazing, so many people and an awesome amount of community spirit. One of the basketballers on the Milwaukee Bucks team (the one we were cheering for) was Australian. Andrew Bogut. He was 7ft tall… he was a great player – apparently one of the best in the league. When they announced all of the players they mentioned that he was from Australia and everyone cheered. Throughout the game we tried yelling Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi, but I doubt he would have heard it in the slightest.
On Sunday (today) we did a little more shopping, I learned some songs on the piano and we caught the bus back home. I’m currently sitting in my room listening to people yell and scream out of their windows (hundreds of people) every time the Green Bay Packers get a touchdown… I kind of got into the spirit by buying a T-Shirt that says “feelin’ so fly, like a cheese head” on it… a cheesehead being a Packers supporter or someone from Wisconsin.. it’s great. So once the superbowl is over, everyone will go back to normal and the craziness will die down… eventually.
I’ve noticed many weird things about Americans and their slightly skewed perception of Australia. The first thing (as said in a post below) is the fact that the kangaroo is the first thing that comes up in conversation. When I first got here it was about the time of the floods in QLD and EVERYONE asked me if I was from there, which is nice and considerate. I’m not though, so I didn’t have much of a story to give them. Many people try and do the Australian accent, every person fails. One of my friends has taken it upon himself to incorporate any sayings or little phrases that I have into his own vocabulary, he’s pretty good at it. He likes to say pulling the piss and footy a lot haha.
Anyway, until the next update.
An American basketball game – cheerleaders and all!
It’s actually snowing in this picture, but you can’t tell.
America = Insanity.
I’ve been here for a little more than 2 weeks now, and it’s starting to feel a little bit normal. Seeing millions of squirrels is normal. Seeing skinny girls with massive amounts of food is normal. Repeating myself one thousand times is normal and even being in the freezing cold temperatures is normal. I love that I finally got here and I can say I live in America, but I still feel like I’m missing out on a lot from home. I’ll no longer take the way the uni runs for granted, they optional lecture, it’s availability on the internet and then a two hour tutorial seems much easier than the three 1 hour mandatory lessons per week.
On the other hand, I am not missing the non-community feel of Perth and the lack of school-spirit that they have so much of here. I love being part of the community here, it’s great. I have been to a basketball game, watched the ‘bring-it-on’ style cheerleaders, mastered my American accent and taught many people about the wonders of Australia.
There is an international student dinner coming up where we will have a chance to inform all of the people around us about our home countries, I’m looking forward to it, because a lot of people are intrigued when it comes to Australia – especially the animals. I’ve even been asked if we have cows… my response – ‘No, we don’t have milk in our country’ with a heavy coat of sarcasm.
There’s an another Australian here, Claire… she’s just as amazed by the American way as I am. It’s good to have another person here who understands what I’m missing when I am having Australia withdrawals. It’s also good to go and hang out with another Australian after only interacting with American’s. In fact, we’ve both decided to go to California and watch the Ellen Degeneres show – that would be amazing.
Anyway, I’m so happy to be here, no matter how much I miss my family and I can’t wait to get out and explore America 😀
As you can probably imagine from the picture above, it’s freezing here. It’s about minus 8 at the moment and somehow, that’s considered an ‘okay day’ here in Whitewater. I must admit though, I am getting used to the cold, I can bare it in one pair of leggings now, instead of three.
I know my home uni told me I’d get homesick and want to leave, but I didn’t expect it to be such a strong feeling as I had when I first got here. When I was in my hotels it was alright, it was like a holiday, but as soon as I moved into my dorms, was all alone and knew nobody – the feeling sank in and I wanted to leave that day, that second. Then we had orientation, and I made some friends. Now that I have friends and people to hang out with it’s not such a bad place to be. I haven’t had many classes yet, but I’m sure once they start up it’ll be even better. I’m waiting for the new feeling to end so that I can finally say ‘I live here’.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me why the hell I came to Wisconsin from Australia, especially to the small town of Whitewater, but I think I made the right decision because it feels more like a community here. Everyone is nice to everyone, it’s a short walk to whatever you need, and there seems to be no kind of segregation of people that I would sometimes see in Australia. I’m starting to really like living here.
I’m finally in Chicago, my 2nd last stop before I’m where I need to be for the year! It’s freezing cold, snowing and soooo much different to home. Through all of my excitement I didn’t really stop and think about what it’d feel like being here with absolutely nobody to talk to or to rely on. You have to make all of your own decisions, you can’t pick up the phone and just call someone and ask their opinion, it’s here, it’s now, it’s fast paced and it’s freakin’ scary!
My flights and stops went pretty smoothly for the most part. Each stop was scary because I had no idea where to go and what to pay and what to do, but after asking about a million questions I finally got my way. I’ve been on a plane for 32 out of the last 48 hours and I’m now laying in my Chicago hotel room, excited that I made it here and I can sleep now. When I got to JFK airport in New York, I expected the transition to be as smooth as the others, but because of the snowstorm my flight was canceled. Delta airlines gave me a cab voucher and told me where to go to wait for this specific cab to take me to another New York airport where they had a flight available, but when the cab never showed I had to get into a (cliche) yellow New York City taxi and go through New York City! (not that I’m complaining). Anyway, so after going through even more security checks and bag check ins I had to wait for a flight one last time. I must say though, after seeing the way that the staff of Delta Airlines handles their customers (not me specifically, but others around me), I don’t think I’ll be flying with them again. It’s like they just don’t care, but what can you do?
I’m in America… it’s mind blowing.
The butterflies in my stomach WON’T GO AWAY! 2 sleeps and I’m on my way to America and all things grand!
Good luck to everyone who are about to start or are already on their adventures! Have fun and live every minute!
It’s 10 days until my journey to Wisconsin-Whitewater and as previously stated, I am absolutely freaking out. This is going to be amazing. My whole family is getting sick to death of me talking about it, so I’ll just vent here. One of my friends (who posted below) left for San Fransisco last night and I was always leaving 10 days after her so now that she’s gone, it’s my countdown!
The only thing that sucks is that in order to get the cheapest flight available, I’m taking four different planes and three different airlines – not really crash hot about that considering that I’ve never traveled alone, let alone anywhere overseas other than Bali for crying out loud. So I leave Perth on the 6th of January at 2.55pm and arrive at 8.20pm on the 7th of January American time – so that’s about 9.20am home time – 2 days travel – so if anyone has any suggestions on stuff to do on the plane/while waiting in the airport I’d greatly welcome them!
All I have left to do now is invest in some warm clothes, photocopy my info for my family, work out my itinerary down to a tee and I’m off.
So it’s 3 weeks until I leave for the USA and I couldn’t be more excited! The amount of paperwork, the number of meetings and appointments and the constant anxious waiting is over and the adventure is about to start! Every single signature, application, email and planning is forgotten because it’s going to be SO worth it.
Where is everyone else heading?
I’m heading to Wisconsin, USA. It’s currently minus 21degrees Celsius – that’s going to be a little different…
Good luck to everyone embarking on a new adventure this coming year. Can’t wait to read everyone’s stories.