I can't believe this time has actually come. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in a miniature-sized desk seeing how quickly I could complete a sheet of timetables in just a few minutes. It seems like just yesterday I was practicing my violin in a choir loft and being voted captain of the middle school volleyball team. It seems like just yesterday I was taking my final bows on the Munk stage and making that short, but important walk to receive my high school diploma. But, in less than two weeks I move into a townhouse for my senior year of college... my last, first day of school.
With this new chapter comes so many mixed emotions. Of course, I can already feel the stress looming over my head for what the next two semesters will hold. I know that in just a few weeks, my to-do list will be miles long and will only come to an end for a few weeks in December, only to grow again until April.
Alongside that stress comes so much excitement. Excitement to finish my capstone project and finally see three semesters worth of hard work, sweat, and tears come to fruition. Excitement to live with my best friend and have the other one just down the hall. Excitement to return to the Christ-filled campus I've called home for the past three years. I'm excited to finally get to say that I did it - to see all of the work I've put in, all by myself, for the past 20 years pay off, debt free and with three degrees that I'm incredibly proud of.
There's also a sense of relief. Relief that in just 254 days (but who's counting...?), I'll walk across the stage officially a college graduate, off to who knows where, a different city, probably a different state, and possibly even a different continent, to do who knows what.
But, most importantly, there's a sense of gratitude. There's a huge amount of gratitude in my heart for myself, knowing that I have actually done what I once thought impossible. Being a first-generation college student and doing this all on my own (and doing it well, might I add), was a task I once only dreamed about. But I'm so incredibly proud of myself for making that dream my reality. I feel immense gratitude to all those who've made my education possible: Indiana Wesleyan University, the Horatio Alger Association, the Cole Scholarship, the Christine Eder Scholarship, and countless others. I feel immense gratitude for my mentors and professors who helped me become the woman I am today, gratitude for my family who was there when they definitely didn't have to be, and gratitude for my friends who loved me and laughed alongside of me at both my worst and my best.
So here's to the start of an incredible eight months. May they go by smoothly, but quickly. May lots of memories be made and relationships grown. But most importantly, may the piece of paper at the end of the journey be no more important than the journey itself. Here's to the mix of emotions as I take a step down this path one more time... one last time. Here's to whatever the future may hold. I know it's going to be bright, full, and absolutely, incredibly beautiful.
I'm officially unpacked, but the jet-lag is beginning to set in. In order to beat it.... I wanted to share a special list with you. Below is my COMPLETED Australia bucket list!
Pony fish bar
Beneath Drivers Lane
Crown Gold Cinema
Kiss an Aussie
Melbourne Star Ferris Wheel
Crown Mall Plaza
Grace Darling Hotel
Try an Açaí Bowl
Try Raw Oyster
Try Authentic Japanese food
Sugar Republic Pop-Up Museum
Northland Shopping Centre
Northcote Social Club
Frank Bod Birthday Pop-Up Shop
Try a French Crepe
Eat Australian Ice Cream
Try Australian Parma
Great Ocean Road Road-Trip
Visit the 12 Apostles
Yarra Valley Wine Tour
AFL at MCG
Walking Tour of Melbourne
Welcome to Thornbury Food Trucks
St. Kilda Beach
See a Wild Penguin
Gelato at Pidapipo
Royal Botanic Gardens
Shrine of Remembrance
National Herbarium of Victoria
Virtual Reality at VIRI
The Victoria Winter Market
ArtVo 3D Museum
Melbourne River Cruise
Craters of the Moon
Auckland Walking Tour
Climb a Volcano
Hold a Koala
See a Platypus
Sheep/ Dog Show
Raptor Bird Show
Southbank Beer Garden
Moreton Island National Park
Snorkeling in the Shipwrecks
Repel Off of a Cliff
Sydney Wild Life
The Fudge Shop
Madamtissa Wax Museum
Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art
I’m getting ready to board the first of three planes to come back to Indiana. I was gonna say, “to come home,” but that doesn’t sound right anymore. Instead of coming home, I feel like I'm leaving home to go on an eight-month study abroad trip to finish my degree.
When people ask me, "How was your summer abroad?" it's really easy to give the cliche answers. "It was great! So eye-opening. Really the experience of a life-time." All of which are true, but I truly learned things during these ten weeks that I wouldn't have learned had I not gone to Australia. Again, cliche, but I've changed so much in ways I couldn't have even dreamed of. I know I've done these updates weekly, but there are a few more things I learned while down under.
1. It's so worth it. Before I left, there were people who couldn't believe that I would spend ten weeks working for no pay. Honestly, it didn't matter, and I don't regret it in any way whatsoever. The work experience, the travel experience, and everything in between was priceless. Read more about my professional experience abroad here: http://kymhuynh.com/2018/08/10/why-i-invest-in-people-and-how-it-will-10x-your-results/.
2. The wanderlust is real. I figured that after being abroad for two and a half months, I'd be content being back in Indiana for the next eight months... but joke's on me. The wanderlust has only gotten worse (which is fine by me).
3. Don't be afraid to ask. When I first arrived in Melbourne, I was terrified to ask for anything, but once I started asking, I realised that it was necessary in order to have a good experience in anything you do. Don't understand a word, phrase, or cultural norm? Ask! Need a day off because you're sick? Ask! Looking for a travel buddy? Ask!
4. Catch flights AND feelings. Traveling around Australia and New Zealand have been incredible and eye-opening. And falling in love abroad was the best decision I've ever made.
5. International work experience will grow your professional skills in unimaginable ways. My writing skills have developed so much, and my marketing creativity has sky-rocketed. My intercultural communication skills (which were practically nonexistent) are 9/10 (nothing's perfect), and my resume is even stronger than before.
6. This is just the beginning... If I didn't have another year of uni left, I wouldn't be leaving. I know that's a big statement, but it's 100% accurate. I'm counting down the days until April 27th...
Thank you to everyone who had a part in this experience. WeTeachMe and all of my amazing co-workers - thank you for welcoming me into your company & growing my professional skills! The Intern Group - thank you for making this happen for me! Court & Jaime - thank you for being the most amazing best friends down under! Andy - you know how thankful I am for you, and I’ll see you in just a few months. Everyone I met & encountered throughout this process - thank you.
See ya soon Australia!
I can’t believe I’m even typing that title. NINE WEEKS?! Where did the time go?
More than anything, I don’t wanna leave. Like seriously, I looked into changing my flight (but my wallet said no). If I didn’t have another year of uni left...
1. You’ll fall in love with places you originally hadn’t even thought about visiting. I wasn’t planning on visiting Brisbane, but I did and I fell in love 😍 with Queensland. Definitely the best weekend trip I have ever taken.
2. Sleep when you're dead. (I've definitely already blogged about this one, but I'm so sleeped deprived that I'm gonna pretend like I don't remember.)
3. Do things that terrify you. If you would’ve told me that I’d snorkel in shipwrecks or that I’d repel down a mountain, I would’ve called you crazy... but both of those things have now been crossed off of my bucket list.
4. Fall in love abroad. It'll be the most amazing experience of your life and the best decision you'll ever make.
5. Don't fall in love abroad. Leaving is already too hard....
6. I take it back. Fall in love abroad.
1. Soak up every moment. If you're lucky, it'll feel like a movie, and that's a feeling you'll never want to forget. When those moments come around, take a moment and just take it in. That feeling is something you'll cherish for the rest of your life.
2. The professional opportunities your internship abroad will lead to are endless. I've already been contacted by multiple companies back in the states who've asked me to apply for a full-time position when I return to America, and each one has mentioned how my international internship makes me stand out.
3. If you're lucky enough to travel, plan it well and go hard. Plan your travel plans in advance and buy things early. This will save your bank account, and you'll be guaranteed to get to do what you want in the most efficient way possible. You'd be surprised what all you can in one weekend if you plan it right.
4. Looking back, the experience is something that'll change the rest of your life. This week, I was apart of a meeting between my host company and my program company. As they asked me questions about my experience and as the words poured out of my mouth, I realized that this is something that is truly once in a lifetime. Whatever the opposite of regret is, that's how I feel about this experience.
I can't believe that we're already at week seven... Where did the time go? It's crazy that in just a few weeks I'll hop on a plane and head back to Indiana, because I can't even imagine leaving.
1. How to deliver an elevator pitch. Even my accent can spark a conversation, which leads to lots of little questions and conversations. If there's one thing my accent has helped me to do, it's create my own elevator pitch. Give me about 45 seconds, and I can probably answer the first five questions on your mind without you having to ask.
2. Let the surprises surprise you. For example, your bff's flight gets cancelled so she has to stay in Australia another day? What a shame... (aka, best surprise of my life!)
3. This is changing who I am. Don't get me wrong - I'm not gonna come back as if I'm not who I was when I left. But as I was talking to my family and friends back in the states this week, I realized that this trip has changed me. It's broadened my horizons in such a way that some of my values and opinions have changed and expanded. A lot can change in ten weeks...
4. Cross everything off of your bucket list. Everything.
5. Your carryon bag from the very beginning needs to be a duffel. This sounds so minor and silly, but I'm serious. You're going to spend weekends travelling. If you're lucky, you're going to hop on planes on a Thursday night to head to another part of the country and come back on Sunday night. Those are the times when you'll be so thankful your carryon bag was a weekend duffel (and your paycheck will thank you too for not having to pay for checked baggage).
6. Going home is going to be one of the hardest experiences of my life (and if you know me, that's saying a lot).
In the midst of all the public transportation I've been riding, I was able to finish an incredible book, Saving Sailor by Renee Riva. And, as usual, I wanted to share my favorite quotes with you! It's definitely a cute, fun read with a sweet ending.
But perfect isn’t what makes a great childhood. What makes a childhood great is being able to look back and remember the good over the bad, the laughter over the tears, and the love that covered a multitude of sins.
Many times there comes into our life a crosswind, a change in course that changes us forever. Often we don’t know until years later just how much influence that event had on who we have become.
There’s a world full of wimps out there who will put on a pair of cowboy boots and call themselves a cowboy. You just make sure you find the one who can actually ride a horse.
Until you have something worth dying for, you have nothing worth living for.
God didn’t give us minds to be able to understand everything. That’s part of the mystery. Now, you can drive yourself crazy tryin’ to understand somethin’ you were never meant to figure out down here, or you can just trust Him ’til He’s ready to let you in on it. ’Til then, just enjoy the mystery. Then she told me, whenever I get scared about eternity, to just think of the most wonderful thing in the whole world, an’ know heaven will be even better than that.
It’s nights like this I’m glad I have a mama who won’t settle for boring. And a God who makes the beat of the drums for us to dance to.
Because when you have the Light of the World living inside of your soul, He shines out of you anywhere He can.”
When I got hurt, it looked like it only happened to me, but it happened to everyone. And when Jack hurt Mrs. Morgan, it hurt everyone. My sins hurt a lot of people too, including a hamster. It’s just like Sister Abigail says, “There’s no such thing as secret sins.”
I remember back to the day I saved Sailor. Then I remember the night Sailor saved me. This much I know for sure, a big God has watched over us.
Me, I’m willin’ to go wherever the wind wants to take me. That might sound kind of funny after seein’ where the winds have taken me this summer. But it’s not the wind I’ve come to trust. I trust in the One who sends the wind.
1. Explore by yourself. I feel like this one is definitely a cliche, but I can say for myself that it’s true. Take a moment and explore the city by yourself. Go to a museum. Walk at your own pace. Don't pay attention to what those around you are doing. For just a moment, spend time alone in this place. Because in just a few weeks, you won't be able to anymore. Check out what I did on my day exploring Melbourne by myself!
2. There are gonna be highs and lows, and you just have to roll with them. Most students studying abroad have big expectations, but when you're living and working in one place for a significant period of time, there are bound to be down days. Work isn't always going to be a walk in the park. You're not always gonna wanna hang out with your friends. Not every day is going to be this magical, abroad experience...
3. ... and that's ok!!!!!! In fact, that's expected. Would it really be living the 'real life' of the place you're in if every day was peaches and rainbows? Of course not! So just remember that when the days aren't the best and you just wanna go to bed, that you're ok. You're still on the most amazing trip of a lifetime, and this is just a bump in the road (and may I say, this road is flippin' incredible).
4. Don't get lost in the drama. You're abroad - leave the drama at home.
5. Travel. Once again, I feel like this is definitely a cliche, but... what are the chances I’m ever gonna be in this corner of the world again? So, I've decided to go to New Zealand! and Sydney! and Brisbane! Surprise (this is what I told my bank account too while it cried hahaha)!
6. It goes by sooooo fast. I've already included this, but I don't care because it needs to be said again. Goodbyes get here before you know it... and they're really hard. We cuddled and cried on the tram together last night, and that explains it all.
This weekend I had the opportunity to visit Melbourne's Immigration Museum. Although it was my first time visiting a museum alone, I'm so glad that I went by myself, because before I even made it through the two floors I was crying.
In America, we have no idea what the words we use surrounding the issue of immigration even mean. We don't learn about it in schools, we don't talk about it in our churches, and we definitely don't discuss it around the dinner table.
Not only did this museum pull at my heartstrings, but I came away with a better understanding of the issue of immigration, a complete understanding of the definitions of the words we use, and a renewed understanding of what I believe.
People migrate to other countries for countless reasons, and these determine what kind of immigrant they are.
Let me preface this with, I don't like putting people into categories (for example, I just said 'kind of immigrant'), but for the purpose of not having another way to explain what I learned, that's how I'm going to write this post.
There are legal immigrants, those who come into a country legally and with documentation. There are asylum-seekers, what we call refugees in America. Aslyum-seekers are those seeking a new country to settle in because of harm, threat, or anything of the like. In Australia, it is not illegal to seek asylum - it is a basic human right. Then, there are illegal immigrants, those who have not met any or a specific legal requirement to stay in another country. This includes many kinds of people, from those who overstay their visa to those who cross a border without documentation to sell illegal drugs.
While I was in the museum, I 'sat in' on an immigration interview and watched a family be denied access to a country. I learned about dozens of immigrants from around the world and the impact they've made on mankind. I took a practice Australia citizenship test (AND PASSED BABY). But the most important thing I did was solidfy my own beliefs.
In America, we basically tell you that you're for immigration or against immigration, but it's not that easy. I'm for legal immigration (most people are). I'm for aslyum-seeker immigrants (which is the debate in the States right now). But I'm not for illegal immigration.
So the next time you ask, "So what's your opinion on immigration?" remember that it's not a black-and-white question. There are differents kind of immigration, just like there are different kinds of immigrants.
As I was about to leave the museum (and as I wiped the mascara away from my water-filled eyes), I noticed a simple seat and tablet on the way out. I sat down, and the screen read, "How will you leave your mark?" As I clicked the go button, it asked to scan my handprint. After scanning my hand, I answered some questions about my expereince, and then it asked me if I'd like to leave my mark in the museum. After selecting yes, it asked me to finish the sentence however I like: "I love Australia's diversity because..."
After thinking for a moment, I only had one answer.
I love Australia's diversity because it's nothing like my culture back home.
1. Go native. Make friends with those who live and grew up here. That's by far been one of my favorite parts of spending time in Australia. As I make friends with the people from Australia, I get to go on adventures that only a native would know about and I get to see their favourite things. Plus, making new friends is always a good idea.
2. Cherish the friendships that you make abroad. Seriously, they are so important, and they don't last nearly long enough. Knowing that one of my closest friends here is leaving in a week makes me want to cry. Cherish every moment with your friends abroad, because eventually you're going to have to go back to your normal life and you won't get to see each other everyday.
3. You get out what you put you in. Work hard, play hard, go hard, do everything incredibly well.
4. The wanderlust will only get worse. Don't get me wrong, I'll be excited to go back to Indiana and get readjusted to home sweet home, but at the same time, I can't imagine going back home permanently (I may have applied for jobs internationally this week, it's fine.)
5. You're here for a good time, not a long time (need I say more?).
6. You can sleep when you're dead. And trust me, the lack of sleep will be sooooo worth it when you look back.
About the Author
Hi there! My name is Dezaray Barr. I'm a public relations professional who loves Jesus, cereal and puppies. I'm a firm believer that God's greatest gift is our communication.