Don’t study abroad in Perth, you will fall in love. When I say fall in love I don’t mean the typical girl meets boy, ultra cheesy romantic love story (although, you never know you may have a cute flat mate). What I really mean is that you will fall in love with the city. If you are like me you will adore the dolphins in the Swan River, sunsets at the foreshore, picnics at Kings Park, watching footy with your flatmates, the blue boathouse and so much more.
That’s not to say that everything was perfect, there were times when me and Perth did not get along. I was on my way home from a Sunday afternoon trip to Fremantle. The journey home consisted of three different buses, and on the last transfer I got a little bit too confident. I sauntered off the bus, shopping bags in hand and casually started walking to my next stop. Ironically, as I got to the stop all I saw was the back of the 101 driving away. To my dismay the next bus wasn’t due for almost two hours. I felt like Tom Hanks in cast away except for my deserted island was the Cannington bus exchange. I felt like Perth had stood me up. Halfway through my love affair the winter chill set in. There were two weeks where it rained koalas and dingoes. I had better water pressure on my short walk to the shops then in my flat shower. The worst quarrel I had with the city was the day I got possibly the worst sunburn ever while exploring the pinnacles. I had spent the day wandering through the otherworldly pinnacles, too mesmerized to put sunscreen on. My shoulders, back and chest were glowing red and blistered by the end of the day. Perth burned me in the worst way possible. My five months in Perth was like a steamy hot new romance.
Like any new relationship my first encounter with Australia was nerve wracking. I had all sorts of questions bouncing around my head. I anxiously wondered if we were going to get along. I was full of self-doubt and apprehension, I had a lot to learn about Perth.
After the nervous and uncertain introduction, I started to feel more comfortable and eventually started to have fun and had lots of memorable moments. The sea of blue and yellow at my first Eagles game is burned into my memory. I was one of 25,000 watching the game, but I felt like connected to everyone in the stadium. I belonged. During my last week I took the bus down to Scarborough beach. It was a beautiful winter day. I walked down the beach, occasionally turning my face up so I could feel the warmth of the sun. I found a spot on the sand by myself, far away from the surfers in their wet suits and the parents with their kids. I sat and watched the waves crash into the shore for hours. A feeling of peace washed over me. How could I ever live without this?
Just when we found a groove Canada called me home. Heart shattered in a million pieces I packed my new life into a suitcase. The ride to the airport was sullen and quiet. I felt as though Perth and I were old lovers sharing one last day before calling it quits. Surrounded by the people I love I waved goodbye to Perth. Passport in my hand, tears running down my face I turned around and walked away. After security I felt like I was a world away, although I technically hadn’t left yet. How could a city I spent so little time in, feel like home? I felt as though I had lost everything. Sitting alone in the airport tears staining my shirt, headphones in blocking out the world it felt as though Perth and I had never been. Despite, my broken heart in this moment I realized that my time with Perth changed me. Perth made me more vulnerable than I had ever been. The city made me open my heart and embrace the unknown. Over the duration of our relationship I became more confident. I fell in love with Perth, but I also fell in love with myself.
After parting ways with Perth, I missed the little things the most. Early morning coffee and banter with my flatmates, the serenity of watching the sun dip behind the jagged city skyline and the cockatoos waking me up in the morning. Above all I miss the friends that became family. In hindsight I got to know Perth fairly well, but I also got to know myself. If given the chance I would be on the next 14-hour plane ride back. Occasionally, you meet someone and your whole life changes, that’s how I feel about Perth. So, this is a warning when you study abroad in Perth be prepared to have your heart broken by its beauty. Be prepared to have your whole life change.
I’m not sure what my future holds, but I’m looking forward to another date. Till’ next time Perth, I hope our paths cross again.
Taylor (A love sick exchange student)