Carolyn Gruebele in Australia

As I stepped off the plane from the long 15-hour flight to Sydney, I felt extremely tired, but my eyes were wide open. I went through customs pretty quickly to run into my exchange’s arms. It had been a long six months since I had seen Lily. Smiles drew on both our faces and I knew that I wouldn’t be homesick.

When we got into our Uber, it was so strange to see the steering wheel on the right-hand side, as well as how they drive on the left side of the road. Also seeing how much smaller the grocery stores are in Sydney compared to home was a bit shocking. I took in the beautiful sightings of Sydney because it wouldn’t be long until I would have to leave to for another part of Australia. Tall buildings lined the city, reminding me of San Francisco. The views were spectacular. And there right in front of me were the most breathtaking beaches I’ve ever seen, filled with so many seashells and waters that waved over with colors of blue ombré. I was taken to the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. The two places I have always wanted to see in person, were right there in front of my own eyes. I never wanted to leave Sydney, but the next part of my journey in Australia was waiting for me.After touring through the main parts of Australia, it was time to fly to meet the rest of Lily’s family in King Island. Looking out the window of the small 30-seater plane, there were just rows and rows of green grass. I was so shocked to see only a couple of houses. I said to myself, “oh god, I’m probably going to hate it here because it’s so different.” I was wrong. After only being there for two days, I started to fall in love with the place. Playing card games with Lily’s brother Charlie, baking with her sister Ella, and making endless jokes with her parents, I started to feel like a part of their family. It was so enjoyable to ride motorbikes and drive a stick-shift–and I felt free. Saying good-bye and leaving the small and loving King Island really put a heavy weight on my heart.

Now I’m in my last few weeks of exchange at Scotch Oakburn College in Tasmania. When I started my first day of school, I threw on my roommates’ uniform and ran down the stairs in a baggy shirt and loose long skirt. I tied up my hair and waited in the cold with Lily and the other students for the school van to pick us up. At school, I noticed that even though all the students are dressed nice, the way they act is different. They are a bit disruptive and are not as uptight about grades as we are back home. This makes me thankful for The Athenian School because I appreciate the learning environment we have.

Looking back, my time here has gone too fast. I’m not ready to leave. Before I departed for exchange, I thought that I would have ups and downs during my trip, but to be honest I was happy for the most part. I enjoyed every bit of it. I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity to live a whole different life on the opposite side of the world for a couple months. Hopefully I’ll see you soon Australia.