Firstly, I would just like to apologise for the incredibly cliche title, but I decided to write this late at night and that was the first thing that came into my head.
This blog has been due for a long time, but these first two weeks in Australia have been so busy that I have not been able to sit down and write. I’m not really writing this for anyone; rather it’s more like a personal diary for myself so that I don’t forget all the things I did while I was here. However, you are more than welcome to read along and follow what I’m getting up to!
Since the start of my application for further education, I had the idea in my head that I wanted to consider studying abroad. This came from the open day at the University of Warwick, where it was revealed that they School of History provided an opportunity to study in Venice, Italy for one semester. Although I did not choose Warwick as my university, this set the cogs turning in my head, and I soon realised that as I was staying at home during my studies at UEA, it would be a good idea to take the study abroad option offered.
Through the various partnerships UEA had with other institutions, I virtually had the world at my fingertips. I’d considered going to America, but eventually I decided to go to Australia, and applied for the University of Sydney (probably a wise decision with hindsight of President Trump!). To be honest, I’m not sure why USYD stood out to me, but now that I’m here I’m glad that it did!
The application was approved in June 2016, which began the long process of enrolling at the university, organising my Student Visa (a rather stressful process) and buying plane tickets. It was only when I purchased the tickets that the whole thing seemed to become real for me: I was actually going and there was no backing out!
I wanted to make sure that in my final few weeks in the UK were worthwhile, so I spent a lot of time with family and friends. Saying goodbye to everyone was tough, but it was only during the few days beforehand that I really felt emotional. Mum gave me a glass pig with a 5p coin in, which I know sounds strange, but this used to be my Granddad’s so it meant much more than I can ever explain in words. During a music concert that my sister was in (only two days before I left), I had the realisation that I was going, and that I only had one more full day in the UK. This was exacerbated by the fact that many friends were there for me to say goodbye to, and so it did get a tad emotional.
The toughest part for me came on the 19th February – the day that I left. This was the day where I knew I had to say goodbye to my family for five months, and it was the day I had been simultaneously looking forward to and dreading. After saying farewell to family who were not coming to the airport, we got into the car and left my home for the final time until July. Emotions were running high at Heathrow (particularly Mum’s!) and these reached a peak at the moment when I had to go through security. This was our final goodbyes. I’m not ashamed to say that many tears were shed.
Once I was through the security gates, however, the emotions had virtually stopped. I’d said my goodbyes and now it was time for me to look forward. I was stopped and searched at security, but apart from that I got through fine. The terminal was big, so I decided to go straight to the gate, which allowed me some time to stop and message the family through facebook (they were waiting in the airport for me to leave). Before long, an announcement came over the tannoy letting me know it was time to board the Cathay Pacific. The economy seats were fairly comfortable, each provided with a thin pillow and blanket. As time progressed, I soon realised I was the only one on my row of three! Success!
I attempted to stay awake for most of the flight in order to beat the jet lag when I landed, although this proved difficult on an 11-hour flight leaving at 8:30 PM. Luckily, there were many films and TV shows to help me get through this, plus flight attendants serving dinner, breakfast and other snacks. When I did decide to sleep, I could stretch out which was surprisingly comfortable!
I landed in Hong Kong, where I went to find the gate again as the airport was so large! The airport is situated in a beautiful location in front of the mountains, and I arrived as the sun was setting. In fact, I was able to show Grandma when she video called me via Facebook.
The sun had completely set by the time I departed Hong Kong, which provided a really cool view of the city at night. The lights were so vivid but it was hard to pick up on my phone camera.
After dinner (chicken and potato, the same as on the first flight), I tried to sleep somewhat successfully. Unfortunately I had no free row on this flight and I couldn’t work out how to recline the seat! I awoke as we were over Australia and the sun was starting to rise, giving some pretty nice views of the country (it is really big by the way!). As we began to descend the topography became visible and before long we were over Sydney. The descent took us over the Pacific Ocean before finally landing at Sydney Kingsford Smith airport at 7:30 AM on Tuesday 21st February.
I got through the airport surprisingly swiftly, being able to use my e-Passport (although I didn’t get a stamp on my passport). Channel 7 were filming for ‘Border Patrol’, but I wasn’t carrying any drugs so don’t expect me to make an appearance soon! I had to declare my running shoes as they had some dirt on (the Aussie government can be funny about the environment), but these were fine and I was soon out in Sydney.
I was picked up by Bob O’Brien who drove me to my new accommodation in Glebe, but I’ll tell you more about that in my next blog!
Sorry if I’ve written this in a lot of detail, but I want to remember as much of it as possible!
P.S. There will be more pictures next time!