My Transformation in Australia


December 12, 2018

Vania Suriel

Homeschool: Arcadia University

Currently Studying abroad: Bond University, Fall 2018
Future: Sydney Internship, Spring 2019 

Thus far, Australia has been a crazy journey.

This semester has been life-changing for more reasons than one. While I’m incredibly excited to spend next semester in Sydney, I will certainly miss the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is easily the most aesthetically pleasing location I’ve ever been to.

This place has become my home away from home, and I’m heartbroken that I have to leave it.

At the beginning of the semester, Gizmo, our in-country program manager, had us write letters to our future selves. Last week, Gizmo gathered all of us for one last dinner together. At the end of the dinner, she surprised us with the letters that we had written months before. Before opening the envelope, I wasn’t too excited about my letter, because I thought I remembered what I had written in it. After reading my letter, I realized that I was completely wrong. I had written something completely different.

In the letter, I mentioned that I wanted to better myself intellectually, physically, and spiritually while in Australia. In the past, I always wanted to better myself in all these areas, but I never took permanent action. I would get better for a while and then fall off my path again. This semester was extremely different from the rest.

While I still have a lot to work on, I can honestly say I have advanced in all those areas. I learned more this semester than I ever had before. The knowledge I gained here at Bond isn’t the kind I can throw away after taking a test on it. I was never a fan of art that wasn’t in the form of dance. This semester, I developed a passion for photography. My Image & Photography class taught me so much, allowing me to capture photos I never thought I could. My Business Law class has allowed me to learn so much as well. This class has allowed me to memorize laws and cases in a way I never have before. In fact, due to this class, I’m considering going to law school after graduation and becoming a corporate lawyer.

Intellectual growth, check.

At my homeschool, I used to dance. Dancing allowed me to have some form of physical activity almost every day, but it was not enough to help me obtain my fitness goals. I often went through waves where I would go to the gym every single day, sometimes twice a day, and then go weeks without going. I was extremely inconsistent, keeping me from my fitness goals. Bond University has an amazing gym. It has many free weights, multiple machines, a pool, and various fitness classes. Throughout this semester, I can honestly say I’ve been exceptionally consistent with the gym. I attend the diverse fitness classes, Monday-Friday at 7:45 am and push myself more than I ever have before. I’ve lost 12 pounds since coming to Australia, and my body has toned up much more. I have definition in areas I’ve never had before. I also had a horrible sleep schedule at my home school. I often ran on 4 hours of sleep, or no sleep at all. Here in Australia, I started a new sleep schedule. I’m often in bed by 10-11pm and wake by 5:30-6:30 am. Getting up early has really lifted my mood, and allowed me to watch the sunrise over the campus fountain every morning.

Physical growth, check.

I started to attend a Hillsong Church while in Australia. There are Hillsong Churches all around the world, and while I knew about them, I never actually attended one. I always heard they were great, but I never got to experience it, until now. Fortunately for me, Hillsong actually started here in Australia. The main campus is in Sydney, while the sister campuses are all throughout Australia, Bali, the US, and a few other locations. Religion and going to church has always been a huge part of my life since my parents brought up my sisters and me in the church. During my freshman year, I was still very involved since I found a great church, Keystone Fellowship Montgomeryville, near Arcadia University. During my sophomore year, I fell off the wagon. I stopped going to church regularly and made up excuses not to go. At the beginning of this semester, I struggled to find a church that I could call home until I went to Hillsong Church Burleigh Heads. Since the day I stepped into that church, I’ve never looked back. Hillsong has allowed me to find my way back to the Gospel, and continue on my journey with God.

Spiritual growth, check.

During that same dinner, Gizmo personally asked me how had I changed throughout the semester. In the moment, I didn’t know how to answer. I honestly didn’t think I had changed at all. Reading my letter, and taking time to reevaluate myself made me realize that I really have changed this semester, for the better. In the letter, I wrote to myself as if I was an irresponsible student who partied all the time because that is who I was. In the letter, I told myself to get my act together. My past self thought that’s where I’d still be, putting pleasure before priorities. Thankfully, my old self was wrong. I do have my act together. I don’t act foolish or get drunk anymore. Instead, I focus on my goals and how I’m going to attain them.

I’ve only been in Australia for four months, and Australia has already allowed me to become a better version of myself. Thankfully, I still have a few more months to enjoy this breathtaking country. I may not be in the “Goldie”, but I’m sure Sydney has a lot in store for me. Needless to say, I’m on the up-and-up.

The pictures show the beauty of Queensland. These pictures explain why I still fall in love with this place over and over again.

Enjoyed reading this blog? Learn more about Arcadia in Australia!