Leaving a place you love is never easy.
Such was the case with Port Lodge, Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia….and then, finally, Australia itself. I finished my last final on the Thursday, Nov. 22 and I had scheduled my flight to Sydney for the 24th. I wasn’t really leaving for good, because I had a two-week luxury cruise around New Zealand to look forward to. (The cruise turned out to be awesome, but by that point I had already detached myself from Freo. It was definitely harder to board the plane from Perth to Sydney than from Sydney to LAX). However, I was still saying a lot of goodbyes. Final goodbyes.
First, I said goodbye to Bather’s Beach. The site of my first encounter with the Indian Ocean, many afternoon cider sessions, and plenty of suntans on my obnoxious Australian flag beach blanket (which I had to leave behind. Sad). We sat in the sand with six packs and sunglasses, soaking up the brutal southern sun for the last time and watching the homeless man who lived in the bushes take his weekly bath in the ocean. Ah, Freo.
Next, I said goodbye to The Roundhouse. Our favorite place to gather and drink cheap wine from cheap plastic glasses before we stumbled to Newport on Wednesday nights. Claiming to be the oldest and most haunted building in Western Australia, The Roundhouse was the perfect spot to watch the ships sail into the harbour while trying to inconspicuously consume beverages among the odd late-night tourist who was actually attempting to appreciate the building’s historical significance. We are nothing if not cultured!
Port Lodge and Friends
Port Lodge was perhaps my hardest goodbye. I had grown very fond of the perpetually filthy kitchen, cockroaches, people constantly singing, and of course my tiny (cozy) room. I’ve experienced my fair share of shared-living spaces, but I’ve never felt nearly as close to them as I did with my fellow Port Lodgians. Despite less-than-favourable amenities, I think we all got along remarkably well. My Freo experience would have meant nothing if I wasn’t with the 30 other lucky kids who got my same acceptance letter last February. Thinking back on that moment, I’m appalled at myself for almost turning down a visit to arguably the (second) greatest country in the world. (Thankfully I had people who cared about me enough to tell me I was an idiot for even considering declining the offer. Whew).
I will never again have another opportunity to do hundreds of amazing things with 30 equally amazing people. As someone who once was extremely skeptical about people who came back from study abroad armed with the cliched statements like “It was the best five months of my life”, I have to apologise. I am now that person. Since I’ve arrived back in the states (a little over a week ago) I’ve tried to refrain from talking about Australia 24/7 to my friends and family. Really. When speaking with friends who spent the past semester stateside, I almost feel bad for talking about how awesome my life was (is). I just have to assume the person has silently acknowledged that my semester was a bazillion times better than theirs, and I have to bite my tongue in order the keep from further depressing them. It truly is a struggle.
That being said, it was nice to be back in the grand ‘ol USA. If anything, going abroad convinced me that the USA is definitely the best country on Earth. We just do things right here, and we rock. I missed my family and my dogs, and I even missed Missouri. Kind of. (Note: did not miss my bed. It’s still tilted at an approximately 27 degree angle and it’s highly uncomfortable to sleep on. You’d think someone could have fixed it after five months).
Anyone who has ever spent any time with me at all will know that I am terrible at goodbyes. I don’t really know anyone who is good at them, but I can assure you that my farewells are exceptionally bad. I prefer to either ignore them completely or give a really lame “Well, see ya later” kind of wave. But since I don’t really see the point in keeping this thing up, this is my last post. And as tradition dictates, a final act like this requires a final goodbye. I think it’s fitting that I end with a picture. I loved the Esplanade Park Ferris wheel. I never actually rode it (hell no was I paying $20 to sit in a claustrophobic car) but I loved how it looked against the bright blue Aussie sky. At night, it was a beautiful spectacle of lights and colors. No matter the time of day, you could see it from almost any spot in Freo. It was one of the first things I laid eyes on in Freo, and also one of the last. A fitting goodbye image in my opinion.
Like I said, goodbyes aren’t my strong suit. I probably owe it to myself to at least try to sum up how incredible of a semester I just experienced. But I really can’t do that. Pictures, notes, and memories will have to suffice. (All I know it that I now have a pretty awesome supply of cool screensavers and IPhone wallpapers. Yeah!)