According to the "study abroad roller coaster" that I was introduced to prior to my departure from the States, I am due for a crash downwards into homesickness and culture shock sometime soon (although, it looks like the worst is yet to come). I am feeling the beginnings of the first descent here and there, such as when culture shock still pops up after I think it must all be over, or when I am reminded of the smallest of details about home that I never thought I would miss. For example, the price of $2.50 for a single avocado (on sale!) has caused me deep regret for the times I passed up a 2 for $1 sale back home. The pure luxury of choosing to go home for school breaks is not an option right now, even though those around me have already visited home numerous times in recent weeks. Finally, the accent barrier still occasionally requires excellent listening skills and guesswork on my behalf - but I must say that I'm becoming very good at this.
However, I maintain my adoration of Australia because of the countless other ways that I have been pleasantly surprised here. The weather, for one, is a surprise every day. I've become accustomed to falling asleep to thunderstorms and waking up to sunshine. I have seen more lightning in the past month than I have in the twenty years I lived in California. One day last week it was gorgeous and sunny, yet I could see lightning casually bolt across the sky in the distance. Later in the week, it felt as if a storm decided to take place directly over Bathurst to make a point that the seasons are changing. As for the upcoming days, I'll just have to find out as it comes - the weather predictions often turn out wrong.
Australia's gorgeous nature does not stop at the weather variations. I am constantly in awe of how clear the night skies are, how far I can see over the wide and flat landscape, and the many creatures I encounter day to day. Dozens of kangaroos live on the campus of my uni, coming out of their hiding places at night. I have joined my roommates on a couple of drives through campus to see if we can find an even bigger and more intimidating kangaroo than we saw last time. The bunnies, sheep, magpies and possums keep life in Australia interesting as well. My nights tucked in bed are always interrupted by a possum hissing outside my window, and my daily walks to campus would certainly not be the same without the squawks and songs of various birds (one even joined me for lunch once).
I'd like to mention a couple of highlights of the past weeks. I was able to venture outside of Bathurst a bit to spend time in the sun. I joined my housemate, Ashley, at a gorgeous riverbank called Flat Rock where we ditched the homework we had brought with us to soak in the sun and keep an eye out for snakes that might be warming themselves on the rocks. A very Aussie moment for me was indulging in my first real Vegemite toast, which I added avocado to in order to cut the taste a bit. I am slowly but surely getting used to the sharp taste of the spread, and might even miss it when I head home. I'm going to have to stock up on bread to try out the other classic meals here, such as spaghetti on toast and baked beans on toast (I'm still skeptical about these). Hundreds of other memories have been crammed in between the moments I share here, but words wouldn't suffice.