The initial excitement of travel is fading away for the exchange students in Adelaide. School has been in session for several weeks now and everyone has settled into routine. I spend a good portion of my time at The Village dormitory where most of my exchange friends live. The dorm consists of about 75 percent international students and 25 percent Aussies, so most of the kids here are juniors or seniors in college. It is fascinating to observe and partake in the colliding social circles of the dorm. We are all brand new to Adelaide, college in Australia and the people around us. Everyone is freshman-like in this sense, but aged in their 20s and already experienced in the culture of college and dorms. So basically, the thrill of new people and living situations mixed with the wisdom of already knowing the game has resulted in a positively incestuous dorm society.
My friend Matt said, “It’s like being able to go back through time and do it all right. You can sleep with the girl you always wanted to.” And sleep the Village people do, often and sometimes with multiple people in a single night. There is an international buffet of ass in this dorm and everyone is in line. The British especially are taking over the dorm person by person like their genitals are on fire. It’s imperialism all over again; every nation’s representative here is being dominated by the British. This must be how they previously conquered the world; they traveled to all these foreign places and instantly began mating with the populace. The sun never sets on the British Empire for a reason.
I suppose it’s just that everyone knows how fleeting their moments in Oz are and have been indulging in all the possibilities available. There is also so much freedom offered in the notion that what happens in Australia stays in Australia. Despite the best efforts of Facebook, no one back home can ever really know what happens here unless you disclose it. While some, or many, have embraced his freedom, I find that there is an even greater freedom in living abroad.
The most liberating thing about this experience is that what comes from America stays in America. No one here knows anything about you and cannot possibly form any preconceived opinions. I lived in a small town my whole life and seven people from my graduating high school class came to UCSB, so my history, my mistakes and my stories have always been present in everyday life. Here, however, not one person knows a single thing from my past other than what I choose to tell them. I can be a whole new person, not by lying necessarily, but because the failures and humiliations of the times of yore stayed behind in California. While they may embrace me once again upon my return, this whole new society of friends knows me for me, and judges me on my present actions. It’s like a clean slate – a second chance to grow up and live with the benefit of past lessons. It’s also a chance to help heal old wounds and maybe when I come back, a new perspective on life will help me, as well. I imagine these liberations are true of any education abroad experience, and it’s so astonishing to discover the unexpected benefits of living in another country. Whether growing as a person, or getting strange ass, new opportunities are discovered each day.