Editor's note: We have the sweetest niece in the whole world and we are thrilled to include her guest blog.
[Katie] I’m sure it’ll come to my father’s surprise I’m writing a blog post, since I so adamantly refused to write one with him. And as awesome as a job he did at describing our adventures, I wanted to bring a more reflective side to Cassowary Tales.
At the ripe age of 17, I’d already consider myself moderately well traveled. Sure, I’ve never been to many of the South American countries many of my fellow classmates have, nor have I volunteered over in any African country, but I’ve already visited both France and now Australia. All thanks to Aunt Michele, Uncle Gavin, and Bitcoin, no less!
Not having many responsibilities, I feel it easy to elevate my own teenage problems to level of that of an adult. Pre-Australia, I was performing as a part of the marching band color guard (Google is perhaps your friend here), operating as captain and often times, main instructor as our coach was dealing with illness, plus taking SATs and filling out college applications and chasing down guidance counselors. Suffice to say, I felt like I was at a stress level equivalent to that of a paper-pusher come deadline time. Not only did I have school and band on my plate but also I was in charge of ensuring the airline transportation for our trip went as smoothly as possible. So as we entered the Philadelphia International Airport, I felt that same level of stress. But with each and every flight, baggage claim, and immigrations checkpoint we cleared, I felt better and better.
One of my favorite sayings, living in a dumpy little tourist town (and not the “cute” kind) is that “home is not a place, it’s a feeling.”
“Home” is exactly the words I would use to describe my entire trip through Australia.
I think it’s very easy, in American culture, to overschedule ourselves and to jam ourselves up with things to do and buy and see and people to call and people to send letters to, and in Australia there just isn’t that jaw-clenching sense of “go!”
Cashiers smile at you and say thank you when just asking for change. Everyone ends a transaction with “See ya later,” instead of goodbye. I met not one single person there who was unwilling to help out any fellow mate, foreign or family.
I also felt that there’s an urge to just appreciate natural beauty and the things the Earth has give us. I felt this way in both South Mission Beach and in Sydney. In South Mission Beach there was rainforest and rivers and creaks and ocean with tide pools and turtles. Sydney has a huge botanical garden, and the fantastically beautiful bay.
Again, all this time I felt so..at peace with everything around me. Perhaps it’s just my teenage angst speaking, but I often feel here in Pennsylvania, at the place I call home, I do not often feel completely at peace. There’s always some sort of stimuli going on around us.
Now that I’m back in America, I try to employ this sort of “ground yourself” way of life all the Aussies (I encountered) seemed to have. I can’t say I’ve felt quite as happy as I was back in South Mission Beach, but I can certainly say I feel better. And I have the memories, and the pictures, to remind me that once I felt was home was like.
And as I look at colleges and their study abroad programs, I hope that someday I’ll know what it feels like when your heart and your head both agree:You’re home.