This is the number one question I get from everyone, after their initial reaction of surprise/disbelief/horror/excitement/confusion.
Why are you going to Australia? What are you going to do there? What do you mean you’ve never been there before? Just…you know…why?
I only have one response to that: Why not?
I’ve wanted to go back to school for a long time. When I first finished my undergrad degree, I had all these high hopes for getting a job right out of school in something profoundly interesting and challenging. Unfortunately, the American job market decided to be disappointing and it became clear that simply wasn’t what was going to happen. I had written off going back to school as something that was too expensive, too time consuming and too difficult. I landed a job working at a small university library where being surrounded by books and students and learning kept reminding me about what I really wanted to do.
In the spring semester of my junior year, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a great experience, despite the terrible weather, my crazy host family, and volcanic hooliganism that kept blowing over from Iceland. I had been reading all these articles and blog posts about going to grad school overseas because other countries have more awesome (read: less financially burdensome) education systems.
I started thinking: why not?
My two basic criteria for a foreign university were as follows:
First, English had to be the native language. Yes, yes, I know…language immersion = good, comfort zone = bad. While most Danes spoke English, I had my fair share of anxiety-riddled experiences where that wasn’t the case. Besides, you can totally still experience culture without having a language barrier.
Second, the weather had to be more normal. When I was in Denmark, they had the worst winter they’d seen in 30 years. Actually, give or take a few decades as that number went up every time I spoke to a local. Snow, cloudy/overcast skies and extended hours of non-daylight brightness (Hey, North Pole, what’s up?) meant too many layers of clothes, vitamin D deficiency, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. No thank you!
As great as I think it would have been, I scratched the UK off my list. This was mostly because of a few climate similarities to DK and because I wanted to go somewhere I had never been before. This meant Australia – sunny, beaches, clear skies, and completely different from anywhere I’ve ever traveled. I settled on the Melbourne because I thought the city was a good fit for me – the girl who doesn’t like cities – and Sydney seemed too touristy. After living in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for 4.5 years I’ve had more than enough of tourists.
So, yes – Australia. No, I’ve never been there. Yes, I’m just packing up and moving there for two years. Why? Because living our lives fearing to do something just because we’ve never done it before is ridiculous! Isn’t that reason enough?