Driving through my suburban neighborhood with the windows rolled all the way down, I’m sweating. It’s the hottest day of the summer and I’m on the way to visit the friends I’ve had for years on years. A nervous lump forms in my throat as I realize that I’m about to leave for a long time. Long enough to pass the honeymoon phase. Long enough to become doubtful and realize I’m as far away from home as I have ever been. The feeling is new to me. Even going to college was never a big deal because I live half an hour away. If I forgot anything, my dad would just bring it to me. If I got sick, my parents would pick me up in a heartbeat.
I’ve grown used to knowing the people and area at home. It’s safe to say that most people I communicate with have heard about the same current events and have at least some idea of the strange terms we millennials use (rest in peace, fam). To be quite honest, all I know about Australia is based on stereotype or fact. We’ve all heard about the excessive use of “mate”, buff kangaroos, and Steve Irwin, but these barely capture anything meaningful within Australian culture. It’s no effort to look up what the weather is like or whether the toilets actually flush the opposite direction of ours, but these facts don’t lead to any real understanding. The point is that the people in Australia live an entirely different reality than I do as an American, and I feel more than ready to learn. As I am with anything unknown, I’m apprehensive. At the same time I’m exhilarated to find out what these people think, feel, and experience and what it’s like to live in Sydney.
Here I am, confronting the idea that I’m going to a place where I know no one, have no sense of placement or direction, and essentially have to just relax and encounter things as they pass. Everything is about to change. As I’m sweating in the Maryland summer, it’s a July winter in Aussieland. I guess the only way I can explain what I’m about to encounter is best said in the words of the great DJ Jazzy Jeff and legendary Fresh Prince – my life got flip-turned upside-down.