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Claire USA – When I first got off the plane, it was already so much more than I expected

When the idea of studying abroad was first brought into my mind, it had to be when I was no older than six or seven; and it had never fully faded from my future plans. I always knew that going abroad was something that I wanted to do, and when I was finally given the chance by Campus Education Australia (CEA) I was more ecstatic than I ever had been about the idea.

Of course, in the months and weeks leading up to my departure, I was nervous. I couldn’t imagine being away from my own home, let alone my family and friends. Luckily, CEA allows for their students to choose their host families, as well as their schools. But, even with this option, I still wasn’t sure how I would adjust to living in my new host family, or if I was going to be able to find friends at school, or if I would find something to do on the weekends.

When I first got off the plane, it was already so much more than I expected. Everything around me was new, and I came in late summer, so the heat and the air around me was absolutely blistering, which was a shock coming from the dead of winter. I soon arrived with my host family and was greeted by my host sister and brothers. In the first week of my arrival, CEA had set up a tour around the city, led by two exchange students who had been there for six months before us and everything was new, exciting and amazing . On this trip, we got to meet all of the other students with CEA, as well as get shown all of the tourist attractions, and the major bus stop. This experience was one of the best, but also one of the most terrifying ones. I remember feeling like I would never really be able to find my way around the city, and I would always be lost. Of course after visiting the city a few more times, I know how to get basically anywhere I might need to.

Once I started school, this same fear of not knowing my way around, and not fitting in took over. And for the first two weeks or so, I didn’t really have a group of friends that I could talk to as much. Of course, people would talk to me now and again, but it did take a bit to start getting a really close group of friends.

After being here for nearly six months, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve made an incredible group of friends, that I couldn’t be happier to have met, as well as so many new experiences that I’ve had. Now that i am leaving it is a bittersweet time. I can’t wait to see my friends and family back home, but they will never replace my overseas friends and family.