Sitting in the Study Abroad pre-departure meetings, I thought the information was irrelevant and tiresome. There was all of this talk about “The Stages of Studying Abroad” and adjusting to a new culture. But I thought, “I’m as cool as a cucumber, traveling thousands of miles away will not faze me.”
After the initial week of adjusting, the “honeymoon phase” began. Oh how grand the honeymoon phase was. Everything was sunshine and high-fives. Everyone was open to meeting each other, and there was always something to do. There was no school. My bank account looked gigantic. I was convinced that this was going to be the feeling for the entire trip. What’s this about a “Frustration Stage?” It sounds like a bunch of phooey.
And as sure as Lara Bingle threw Australian Cricketer Michael Clarke’s wedding ring down the toilet (yes that is an Australian pop culture reference), the “Frustration Stage” hit. Some of my initial excitement began to wear off. I started to have more questions.
Why am I not getting in to any more adventures?
Why have I not met more locals?
Am I missing out on what my friends are doing back home?
Why are some people having a better time than I am?
Why is Burger King called Hunger Jack’s?
This so-called “Frustration Stage” has been difficult. Since the lull of school took over, it has felt like I was doing the same thing I did at ODU. School, gym, Facebook, going out on the weekend. While that routine works fine while at ODU, my time in Australia should not be a mirror image. So, keeping with the mirror theme, I played “Man in the Mirror” and reflected on my time. After hearing the musical inspiration, I stood up and said, “apathy be damned!” I must change my ways.
Thankfully, the “Frustration Stage” was short lived. I decided that if I really want to jump in to Australia, I would have to talk to as many people as I can. Sure, some people will be cold and not care to talk, but many others are happy to talk about a sweet spot for adventure. Like my good friend Sid, the owner/operator of Café Delish, he always has a story to tell. Or take my fellow classmates, who I now strike up random conversation whenever possible. Hello “Understanding stage,” my name is Stephen Benkert.