Mates Made Abroad

Student on exchange in Australia with kangaroos
Author: Emily Grey

The most commonly asked question when I returned from my exchange in Australia was what was your favourite part? Well how do you pick just one? From the beaches in the Whitsunday’s, to Uluru in the outback, driving down the East coast, seeing all new types of fauna and flora and all the cities explored in between. However, when I was asked the question, “What was your favourite part?” none of these were my immediate answer. The first thing that I always said was the friends I made.


Moving to the other side of the world can be a dauting task, especially when you don’t know anyone where you are going. The great part about going on exchange is, everyone is in the same situation as you. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, different schools, speaks different languages, yet living in the same city and sharing an experience together is all that is needed to begin lifelong friendships.


They were my support system, my travel buddies, my study partners, my cooking comrades and my mates. Going on exchange I knew I would make new friends, but I never expected to create such close friendships in such a short period of time. And honestly my highlighted memory is sitting around a kitchen table, talking and learning from one another. When you put people from Germany, Sweden, Finland, England, Wales, Italy, Norway, Australia and the United States in one place, anything is possible to talk about.


The experiences you share with friends from abroad are unique from back home. I can’t say I sat in an airport for over twelve hours with many people or traveled in the Mystery Machine van down the East Coast of Australia, or got spooked by Kangaroos walking home from school, or avoided being swooped by magpies while walking to school. These are the people when you are home sick that you can talk to, or feeling under the weather they will be there for you. They are your family and support away from home.


So when it came to leaving, it was hard to say goodbye because there was the unknown of when we would ever see each other again. We all came from different parts of the world and were going in different directions when we returned. Some would be continuing their studies, other graduating and continuing to travel or some beginning their careers. But we all shared the same experience together from our exchange semester and those friendships will last a lifetime.