Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

The Year without a Spring

on October 12, 2010

I choose my major in college specifically because it required me to study abroad for a semester (gee….what a burden). I wanted to go some place that I knew I might not otherwise get to visit later in life. Since Australia seemed to be as far as I could get from home, that seemed like the logical choice. At the recommendation of a friend who had just completed a study abroad trip, I elected to go to Melbourne rather than Sydney, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

I lucked out in a lot of ways throughout my trip planning. I got assigned my first choice dorm – International House – where I lived with nationals from over 30 countries. It was an amazing experience and exposed me to so many new things, and probably had a hand in informing my future career direction. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but most of the other American students I ran into ended up being housed in one of the on-campus apartments….with the rest of the Americans. Not quite the study abroad experience I had in mind. I ended up with a great travel agent who told me about a hostel in Fiji where I could stay if I wanted to have a layover for a few days. The hostel was part of a reasonably swank resort, meaning that I got all the benefits of this lush tropical paradise without the expense.

My course schedule also allowed me to travel within Australia a reasonable amount. In the 5ish months I was there, I went to Sydney, Cairns (a stopping off point for the Great Barrier Reef), Adelaide (which apparently all but closes on the Queen’s Birthday, which they celebrate in June instead of April….don’t ask me. I don’t get it either. Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation.) and Hobart (yea Cadbury Chocolate Factory tour!!!).  I was also lucky to have lots of visitors – my boyfriend, 2 great friends and my mom. I’m reasonably sure that I provided a convenient excuse for them to go some place they had always wanted to visit, and I’m ok with that. After months being away, it was nice to see a friendly face.

My trip wasn’t all sunshine and puppy dogs. Leaving was incredibly difficult. My boyfriend dropped me off at the airport and we said goodbye at the security gate. As soon as I passed through security, I had a mini-breakdown. I went to the restroom and bawled for a few minutes. Fortunately, my boyfriend had given me a gift certificate for Build-A-Bear the day before and we had gone out and built my teddy bear, who would prove to my best friend over the coming weeks. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, being 21 years old and toting a stuffed bear around the airport, but I really didn’t care. I also nearly died on the flight from LA to Fiji, and I feel that’s only a slight exaggeration. I’ve flown a lot in my life but never have I experienced such extreme turbulence. You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you plummet down the steepest hill and you get that weird tickly feeling in your stomach? That happened a lot as the plane would routinely rise and then fall. People on the flight were screaming. It was intense. I was squeezing my teddy bear so tight I’m lucky I didn’t squeeze him in half. My next mini breakdown came when I arrived in Fiji. Do you know how difficult it is to use a calling card from somewhere as remote as Fiji on a payphone? It’s hard and I was sleep deprived. And I couldn’t reach anyone to tell them I had arrived safely the first day. I almost cried when I finally got through to my sister the next day.

The weirdest thing about the entire experience was missing spring that year. I left Newark in February 2003 – in the middle of winter, and arrived in Fiji in February 2003 – the middle of summer. That was trippy. I stayed through the rest of summer and part of autumn and returned to the States in June….just after summer started. No spring. I am at a spring deficit. All in all, given the experience, I guess it’s a reasonable price to pay.


CIA World Factbook



2 responses to “The Year without a Spring

  1. Samantha says:

    I almost cried when you got through too!! We were anxiously awaiting your call and then it didn’t come, we were getting nervous.

  2. Rory says:

    Worry not
    The weather that year ensured that we didn’t have spring either!

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