Tasmania always seemed so far away. I remember procrastinating during my research class and customizing my Google Calendar instead of focusing. I had kept a countdown to how many days left till my departure. It started off with 100 days. Then 50, then 40, and by Father’s Day there was only 20 days left. Before I knew it, I snapped back into reality as I boarded my first flight to LAX.
I will be studying at the University of Tasmania for 130 days total. That’s over 4 months of my life spent in a place that I didn’t even know existed just last year. I soon realized that Tassie is Australia’s secret gem. You’ll later learn why.
I visit my grandma quiet frequently, so flying in an airplane is no problem for me. The longest plane ride I’ve ever been on was when I was 5 years old when my Mom would take me to El Salvador. I don’t remember any of it, so I don’t count it. The 3 flights ahead of me was what made me nervous prior to leaving. I was flying from Denver to LAX, then to Melbourne, then to Hobart.
I traveled for a grand total of 22 hours. It wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
The funniest thing that happened during the trip was when I was waiting to board my plane to Melbourne from LAX. I had read my boarding pass and it said that we could start boarding at 8:30pm. I was riding in the Economic class so I knew I wouldn’t be among the first to board, so I took my time to pack up my belongings from a spot I had picked to wait for the plane. I couldn’t see the gate from where I was so I never saw when people began to board as early as 8pm.
It turns out that the flight crew was waiting for me and one other person! The flight attendant looked at me as I walked in and said, “you must be Chelsea.” I thought it was weird but I still continued to take my seat. Once I was settled in, the pilot made an announcement and says, “Good news, now we are waiting for just one other person. We should take off once they have made their way in.” Oops, I guess boarding for international flights works a little differently. PSA: You can probably board sooner than the time on your boarding pass
Arriving to Hobart International Airport was one of the best feelings I have had in a very long time. Before I knew it, we were flying over a beach, and the view was simply breathtaking. I had never landed in an airport
that was practically right next to the ocean and I felt so giddy inside. For so long I wondered what this moment would be like. I was very tired, but I was excited.
As soon as I stepped out of the airplane, I took a whiff of that world-renowned Tasmanian air. According to studies, Tasmania has one of the cleanest airs on the planet. Being from the Mile High City, I felt like I was breathing for the very first time in my life.
I met the airport pick-up service man and he drove me all the way to my accommodations. It wasn’t very far, about 20 minutes away. I was able to carry both my 50 pound bags and carry-on up 3 flights of stairs. I was very groggy at first but once I saw the view from my room, I knew I wouldn’t have wanted to live on the first floor. It looked like a painting. Maybe it was because I didn’t have my glasses on and everything seemed a little blurry. But still, I couldn’t help but to gaze in awe for the 10th time since I had arrived to Australia.
The view the next morning was amazing. The jet lag payed off because I was welcomed with the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. I wanted to capture an image that really showed exactly what I was seeing but it was impossible. I’ve been having many of those moments here.
I’ve met a lot of really great people here! I’m so glad to be living with my flat mates because they are absolutely the nicest girls I have ever met. Teah, Niki, Niki’s boyfriend Ciarán, Jerylyn, and Lily are all University of Tasmania students so they aren’t here for exchange. My other flat mate, Flavia is from Switzerland and she’s hilarious, even when she doesn’t try to be.
Our flat mates have all been helping Flavia and I navigate through the Tasmanian lifestyle and honestly, I’ve learned so much in the last few weeks already. I’m really grateful to have them. It’s almost as if I’ve known them my whole life. Each week I can see our friendships progressing more and more and we can be sitting around just watching Netflix and it’s a really good time. It hurts to think that I’m going to have to leave them at the end of the semester.
My classes have been going well so far. More details is for a different blog post. Needless to say, I’ve been settling really well here in Tassie and I can’t believe I was nervous to be here. Australia is very different from the United States. It’s a good different. Everyone here is very laid back and they have so many different norms from us. I love learning new things every day and slowly assimilating to their lifestyle. I’m starting to call people “mate” now instead of “friend” and it’s going to be interesting to use that back home.
Tasmania is starting to become a home away from home. That’s all I had asked God for.
AUSTRALIA– UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA, 2018 FALL
Chelsea Hernandez is currently a Senior studying Journalism and Criminology. She is studying abroad in Tasmania, Australia for the Fall Quarter of 2018. Chelsea is hoping learn about a variety of cultures, not just the Tasmanian one, as many of her peers abroad are from different countries all over the world. After graduation this upcoming Spring, she hopes to gain more experience in Journalism and land an internship somewhere in Denver.