From Sand to Snow… Final Thoughts

My pets are happy that I’m home!

I have returned to the US and am sitting in my childhood bedroom with my dog. Sitting in the same spot where these ideas of travelling began to form. A few years later, I have lived the dream. I surfed. I scuba dived on the Great Barrier Reef. I held koalas and pat kangaroos. I saw Robert Irwin. I ran up the steps at the Sydney Opera House. I touched the 98% silica sand at the Whitsundays National Park. I learned new lingo and how to navigate public transportation. I moved to a new country! Ten year old Maddy would lose her little mind knowing her older self got to experience this.

The two words that come to mind when I think about all of this are growth and strength. I have always struggled with anxiety. I have been a person ruled by fear and what-ifs. This semester was my biggest resistance to those fears, and doing so has sparked personal growth that I could never have dreamed of. While all of the things that I did were amazing and things I wanted to do, they required strength. Not just physical (though I did need some serious strength to swim through some of those currents), but mental strength. I had to be strong enough to let go of my fear of getting lost in order to learn how to use the public transportation system. I left my support system and everything I was comfortable with in the US for a chance to experience a new culture and way of life on the other side of the world. I think that takes mental toughness. And from that strength, I grew. And the results were beautiful.

So what did the past 16 weeks mean to me? The answer is everything. I look back to where I was this time last year and marvel at the growth. I am a different person: stronger, more independent, more confident and less fearful. If I can move across the world and build a life there, I can do other hard things. And that is something I need to continue to remind myself. Therefore, this is my encouragement for anyone reading this: you can do hard things. Winnie the Pooh said it best; “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”. If I could do this, you can certainly do the thing that comes to your mind when reading this. Study abroad, taking that job, talking to those people… you can do hard things. The results are often beautiful.

Thank you to everyone who has followed me throughout the last 16 weeks. If you ever get a chance to see the stunning country of Australia, I cannot recommend it enough! My friends and I are already trying to go back. The time change is rough, though (I say as someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and is up for hours but wants to fall asleep for the entire afternoon and early evening)!

Most of our TEAN education program gang! My Australia family
Ace enjoying his new wombat bandana!

Most tender blessings,

Maddy B 🙂

Published by Maddy Baughman

Class of 2024 English and Language Arts Elementary Education Major TEAN Gold Coast, Australia

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