Special Mobility Series: Why it’s Okay that Moving and Making Friends Never Gets Easier
Unlike most students, the decision to go abroad was chosen for me; Susquehanna University is one of a handful of schools in the United States that require every student to have some sort of study away experience. I did, however, get to choose where and for how long, and figured I should get out of my comfort zone as much as possible. So why not choose to study at Murdoch University, all the way on the west coast of Australia, where no one goes? Coincidentally though, one friend from Susquehanna also decided to study at Murdoch, too. And looking back, having someone I knew definitely helped with the transition—I had someone who understood my worries and could relate to things from back home. It’s also comforting to have her now, sending her silly articles about Australia, knowing what no one else would appreciate about American Targets or the Tim Tam Slam.
A Little Bit Like HomeLike moving into college as a first-year, there was definitely some stress moving into Murdoch University, even with a friend from home along for the ride. I was fortunate enough to have housing on campus at the Murdoch University Village, though I know other universities expect you to live in apartments nearby. I worked on my accommodations with The Village before actually getting to Australia. They were very accommodating and understanding; they made sure I could stay in a two-bedroom flat with my caregiver and that it would be accessible for my wheelchair. Also, the Village provides a couple of packages, if you wish to purchase them: one with towels, sheets, and pillows, and one with basic kitchen supplies. With this, I didn’t have to stress out that first night about getting basic necessities. Finally, a Village Resident Assistant (RA) took anyone interested on a shopping trip the night we landed in Perth, so we were able to grab food and other essentials. Without the RA guiding the first expedition to the shopping center, I would have had no idea where to go or how to get back.
Take it from the Australians—don’t stress so hard. People are inherently good and you will find some you click with.Having an RA in my housing area was a little bit of familiarity from the U.S. as I adjusted to living in Perth. My RA was another undergrad student who had already lived at the Village as a resident beforehand, and lived in the same complex as I did. All the RAs sat down with their new residents and laid everything out. This was greatly appreciated, considering the expectations here were so different from at home. At my home university, someone comes into my suite every week and cleans the common area, kitchen, and bathroom; in the Village, it’s a real flat, where you’re responsible for everything, from emptying the trash to buying toilet paper.