I thought that I was coming to Australia to gain educational knowledge. Politics, global issues, theology, and culture are the topics that I signed up to learn about. While the course load is intense, this is a comfortable area for me. I am one of those odd people who loves an educational challenge. School work is something familiar. It is a tangible way for me to define myself.
When someone asks me about myself, I immediately respond with my educational standings. I usually rattle off something like this, "I am a Psychology/ Religion double major at Judson College I don't know what I am doing next in life. My plans for the future change everyday, but eventually I will get a master's and probably a doctorate in something." What is interesting is that this does not define who I am. It just explains what I do. I am so much more than my educational experience. While education is a large part of me, it is not my whole being.
The challenge for me here in Australia has not been educational. I have been stretched more in a social arena than I ever imagined. If I knew before I came that I would be stretched socially, I would have avoided this trip like it was a plague. If you know anything about me, you probably know I am very quirky and I have a hard time dealing with people who aggravate me.
I have not been able to control my surroundings here. I was plopped down on another continent- with 37 artsy American students from all over the country. There are people who make me uncomfortable everywhere I turn. I remember at the beginning of the semester I automatically categorized people into 2 groups. Group one was the "Christina will associate with these people" group. Group two was the "Christina does not understand and therefore will avoid these people" group. Luckily, I was forced to associate with many of the people in group two. What I found was that my initial judgment of these people blinded me from seeing the beauty in their character. This is hard for me to admit, but I need to learn that people will always be different from me. I can be okay with loving people for who they are- their faults and failures included. No one will ever fit into my perfect friend bubble... and really what kind of life would I live if they did? :)
Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections. (Author Unknown)