I chose to study abroad in Australia for its beautiful nature, but I did not realize that what I would miss most were the people.
Upon arriving in Australia, I met a group of international friends—two Canadians, one Turk, one Brit, and way too many Europeans. I hung out with them often in the first couple weeks of being there because all of us were new to the city.
During O-Week, which is orientation at QUT, I visited many different booths in hopes of joining a club. There were so many to choose from, but when my eyes landed on a tent for the beach volleyball club (which I have played and loved for years now) I RAN to it. I walked up to a group full of strangers, getting all the information I could about the club. That Thursday, I travelled to the beach courts and met what felt like a million other students all here to play volleyball, just like me.
I loved it so much that I went back Thursday after Thursday. One of these nights, I was told there is more competitive play on Mondays, which is when all of the executive members play, so I started going on Mondays and Thursdays. This meant I saw all of the execs at least twice a week and often went out to eat dinner with them, too.
Getting to know each other throughout the weeks led to receiving an invite to go on a ten-day road trip with a few of them. We would be taking off work and class to be chilling on the beach dawn till dusk. After watching sunrise each morning, we would surf, swim, chat, and read while the sun travelled over our heads until it disappeared into the mountains behind us. Since we were camping and cooking at outdoor park grills, no time was spent apart. We did everything together. I knew in those moments that this might be the start of something great.
After returning home from the road trip, I had been the most joyful I ever felt. I had new, strong friendships with Aussies and had just spent ten days immersed in the natural world, playing like a kid and eating good food.
The following weeks my mates and I kept growing closer and planning more adventures together. I couldn’t get enough of them!
When it began nearing the end of my time in Aus, and after countless fun adventures and roadtrips filled with curiosity, laughter, and joy, I had realized how incredibly close I had gotten with them over the past five months. I recognized how grateful I was to have been fully adopted by such a wonderful group of people who were more than excited to take me under their wing, show me around, and teach me their ways.
I planned one last road trip with my girls, one more tender adventure with Angus, and then my last night in Brisbane finally arrived.
The days leading up to my flight, I had wanted to not make my departure a big deal, so I kept secret the day I was leaving and did not plan on saying any goodbyes, but the group had narrowed down the day through interrogation and insisted we have a proper evening that celebrated me. I sent out the details of this quick get-together to the ten group members and expected that some people not be able to make it. That night, Angus scooped me from my place and upon arriving at the pub, everyone I had texted was there. All ten of them. Ten! After thoroughly enjoying my meal and getting to chat with everyone I love dearly, it was time for goodbyes. I was not expecting anything special with how last minute it was, but the group pulled out a sealed card and handed it to me. Gingerly, I opened it and discovered many warm messages tucked inside. I attempted to read it at the table, but immediately broke into tears when I saw it was covered in more ink than there was white space. Instead, they took it back temporarily and we walked outside. I made my way around saying my goodbyes, but we chatted for much longer. We couldn’t bear the thought of actually saying goodbye.
When I arrived in Brisbane, I had not planned to make such long-lasting friendships with anyone. If anything, I was planning on not making them. However, serendipity had my back and I fell in with some of the most lovely, inspiring individuals I will ever meet. I could not have asked for a better group of people to take me in and make me feel at home. These are definitely life-long friendships, and I will be forever grateful for the magic that they brought to my experience in Aus. ♡