Recently, I boarded a plane with a group of strangers and traveled to a country I had never been to before.  As I sat around the kitchen table with my five roommates just a few weeks later, I felt at home.  I did not come to Australia for vacation, but instead to live.  I have started school, made friends from around the world, and have begun to apply for jobs.

Alyssa and koala

Before the big trip, I feared that I would travel all the way to Australia and become too homesick to enjoy my time abroad.  While I miss my friends and family back home, I have not yet been homesick.  I did not know anyone during the first few days of orientation, but I felt anything but alone when I arrived.  All of us were strangers to each other, eager to meet new people and create friendships.  It was comforting to know that everyone was going through the same thing as we started our lives in Australia.

New friends in Australia
New friends in Australia

At first glance, Sydney can appear to be just like a major city in the US, but after learning the area and a bit about the culture, I have started to notice some major differences.  One of our TEAN orientation leaders pointed out to us that these things are “not wrong, just different.”  For example, driving on the left side of the road is not wrong, but different from what we are used to seeing back home.

Harry's Meat pie
Meat pie with mashed potato and mushy peas. It’s not wrong, it’s just different!

I have tried to keep this “not wrong, just different” idea in my head as I’ve met people from different cultures with different beliefs and ideas about the world than myself.  This has allowed me to keep an open mind, accept different ideas, and learn from people around me.  In a city like Sydney, you can meet people from all around the world.  Even after a few weeks I have been able to not only learn so much about the people I’ve met, but also learn a lot about myself.  I am looking forward to the next five months that I get to spend in this amazing city!

Coogee Beach
Coogee Beach. I can see this beach from my apartment!

Alyssa Fox is a student at Rutgers University and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Alyssa is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Sydney, Australia.