Diving Headfirst into New Experiences in Australia

This is an excerpt from a larger piece for the Honors Program at Elizabethtown College. In it, Dylan shares about and reflects upon his experience of studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia. In the following section, Dylan gives insights into what he learned in Melbourne and how this experience influences him moving forward.

To try to summarize all of the lessons I learned abroad is an arduous task. I learned and grew more while abroad than I have my entire college experience prior to going. However, I have a few key insights that are worth sharing above others.

One of the biggest things I learned in Australia was the power of pretending to love something until you do. One of the challenges I gave myself whenever I was presented with something new or unfamiliar to me was to pretend that I was heavily invested in whatever the thing was. For example, I had never been to a dance recital before I went to see my friend perform in one at the University of Melbourne’s performing arts campus. At first, I was apprehensive about it because it did not seem like something I would be interested in. However, I was convinced to enjoy the experience, so I employed the strategy I had been refining in Australia: pretend you love it until you do. I simply imagined I was a fanatic about contemporary dance and had a lot of skill in analyzing its meaning, and I found myself getting a lot out of the experience. I did the same thing with backpacker culture in New Zealand, new food styles I tried in Melbourne and Sydney, and many other experiences. It helps you get past a lot of fears and apprehensions when you are willing to put your qualms aside and dive headfirst into whatever it is you are doing.

My other biggest takeaway from my time abroad was to put my trust in the process of having a new experience. There were several times where I was ready to give up on something new, but I pushed on with positive expectations and got something really good out of the experience. For example, in Sydney I struggled to make friends at first because I had traveled there alone, an experience still relatively new for me. However, I trusted that things were going to work out as long as I kept trying, so I kept talking to new people and spending time with people from my hostel, and I eventually made some new friends that enhanced my entire Sydney experience. If I had given up as soon as it became hard to meet people and make friends, I never would have gotten to have the great experiences I had with my Sydney friends. This is just one of many times I learned to trust that as long as I go into something expecting to get the best out of it, I am sure to eventually turn the situation into something positive for myself and others.

Overall, my time studying abroad in Melbourne was a time of growth, challenges, and a whole lot of new experiences. I never could have done it without the support of those around me and back home, and I could not have done it without the determination I found within myself to make every experience there as unforgettable as the last. My number one piece of advice to people traveling abroad? Do not just try new things. Dive into new things. Grab them by the teeth and do not let go. Some day you will be glad that you did not just “try” climbing a mountain. You climbed it the whole way to the top.

This paper, and its associated presentation, is part of a series of study abroad narratives written for the Honors Program. If you are an Honors student, you too can earn four Honors credits through your study abroad experience! To learn more about the University of Melbourne, please click the hyperlink.

The attached photograph is from Dylan’s visit to New Zealand. He’s pictured with two other E-town students, Lydia Stone and Danielle Phillips, who studied abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. One of the iconic campus building is shown in the background. 

About the Author: Dylan Warner ’20 – Spring 2019, Semester in Melbourne, Australia

Dylan Warner is a senior business administration major and political science minor at Elizabethtown College. He is also involved with the Peer Mentor program, Student Senate, Circle K, Admissions, Emotion, Called to Lead, and WWEC Student Radio.

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