Say yes to everything

After studying abroad in Sydney, Australia for a month and a half I learned one of the most important life lessons: to be open to every opportunity I am presented with. Although my abroad experience was unfortunately cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, I still managed to make the most of my time there. I am therefore incredibly grateful for the opportunities I was given and the experiences I was able to have in such a short period of time.

From the first day I arrived in Sydney, I instantly began packing every day full of as much as possible. For the whole 48 days I had the pleasure to live in my own personal dreamland, there was not a single day where I did not get out of my house and make the most of my day. Whether that be exploring downtown Sydney, finding new beaches, hiking in the Blue Mountains, or traveling to other cities — you’d better believe that I was constantly out and about. Yes, my main purpose for studying abroad was to actually study, but that was not going to stop me from trying to learn every bit of Australia inside and out.

I had the pleasure to form a group of friends that were equally as driven as I was to go on adventures every day possible. Any time one of us heard of a new restaurant to try, a new sight to see, a new trail to hike– whatever it was, I said yes. I did not even need to know where or what it was exactly before I made the decision that I wanted to experience it. It got to the point where some of our other friends would even comment on our constant activity seeking: “You guys are always out doing things, don’t you ever want a day to rest?” Our response was always something along the lines of “No, of course not… We’re in Australia! We’ll rest when we’re dead.”

It did not matter how sleep deprived or exhausted we were from our constant quests of exploration. If it was a new day, we were going to find something new to experience. We had so much planned for the rest of the semester that there was no time for rest days. Our crusade for adventure never ceased and our list of new places to see was never-ending.

As tragedy struck reality with the COVID-19 pandemic, our extensive plans to travel elsewhere in Australia were turned upside down– and eventually led to our departure from our beloved home. Though we are all devastated, as every study abroad student is, my friends and I found solace in the fact that we made every single day there count. During my short time in Australia, I was able to travel to Melbourne, drive on the Great Ocean Road, bask in the glory of the Twelve Apostles, learn to surf, relax on countless breathtaking beaches, hike in the vast Blue Mountains and as previously stated, explore the great city of Sydney. 

There was not a day wasted and we were able to experience so much in such a short period of time. While there were endless activities we were planning to do and places to see, I left Australia with no regrets about how I spent my time there. Other study abroad students may not have been so lucky to experience all that we were able to in our short time abroad and we are immensely thankful for what we were able to accomplish. We came out of this study abroad experience and international crisis with one important life lesson that we will never forget: say “yes” to every opportunity because you never know how long that opportunity will still be an option.