The song ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ has always been just that, a song. But, my travels in Australia changed my opinion of it. It went from being a wav file to listen to and enjoy to being a musical masterpiece that had the potential to bring tears to my eyes.
On December 31, 2006 at 9:00 p.m., I arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. We, my family and I, were to be there for seven months before returning to the USA. My parents had a teaching sabbatical at the University of Queensland and my sister and I attended Indooroopilly State High School. We started our lives over, trusting another country and new people with our lives.
While some parts of the journey were hard, others were amazing. Those seven months were some of the best of my life. I got to visit beautiful places and see amazing things. I went to Thailand, got food poisoning, and threw up for two days straight. I went scubadiving in the Great Barrier Reef and saw reef sharks in the wild. I saw platypi, koalas, and kangaroos. I saw the Milky Way with perfect clarity in the Australian Outback.
I went to so many amazing places, I felt like I was in heaven. I never wanted my adventures to end, but, when they did, I had an equally wonderful place to return to. My home in Brisbane was beautiful. I lived on a golf course, and, a few nights a week, I would go out, look at the stars, and think.
The bats flying overhead and the cockatiels chattering added a soundtrack to my inner monologues. It was during these mental debates that I decided to change my life.
I have never been the most social person. One could even say that I lacked an abundance of friends. I wanted that to change. When I started school, my goal was to improve my social confidence. I decided to be friendlier and to work harder at making friends. I was starting over. I had a tabula rasa, a clean slate.
It wasn’t easy, but I succeeded in my goals. There, I made more friends then I have had in all of my life in the USA. They liked me because of my personality and not because I could help them improve their grades. They liked me, not just my brains. I went to parties, something I’ve wanted to do for years. And, while I didn’t drink, they accepted me with my quirks. In Australia, I learned to be social.
Leaving Australia and my friends was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I cried more than I ever had. There were periods when I thought that I could never be that happy again. But, I have decided to change my situation here. When I do go back to school, I will apply the skills that I learned in Australia. I will be friendly, and I will make more friends. I will try to enjoy the high school experiences that I previously loathed.
While I will still be sad every time that I hear ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane,’ the song that my friends decided to play last at my going away party, I will also be happy. I will not cry because my life is changing. I will be happier here. My travels in Australia have changed me and I am grateful for the metamorphosis.
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