Wake Up to the Noise Around You

It was 7 pm and we had all just finished playing a game of “nerts” for the tenth time that night. Everyone sat at the eight-seater table in the common room, dealing out six decks of cards while someone’s Spotify playlist played in the background. Lucia was my partner and we had just won for the second time in a row, which we celebrated by giving each other a high-five with our damp palms. The room was steamy as we had to keep the doors leading to the terrace closed to make sure no mosquitoes got in.

“I think I’m gonna sit this one out, guys,” I said to the group as I leaned back in the red chair.

The others nodded their heads at me. They were already shuffling their cards in preparation for another game. Sweat dripped down their faces and onto their collarbones as The Black Eyed Peas played. I looked at each of them and was overcome with a feeling of appreciation. This group of sixteen people had all chosen for whatever reason to study at the University of Hyderabad. Even though we came from different backgrounds, we sat together laughing hysterically as if we had known each other for years.

I walked around the table and out to the terrace so that I could watch what was happening on the street. The terrace faced a street that ran perpendicular to the main road of the University. There was always movement and sounds coming from below: motorcycles revving past, laughter dancing through the air, drums being hit. I could easily spend hours sitting on the cement railing listening to the sounds of the night.

I could hear chanting and drums coming from a distance. People from the street served as my alarm as they looked in the distance where I couldn’t see anything. A pack of five dogs ran away from the noise, all of them checking behind their shoulder to see if anyone was following.

A group of fifteen men came into my line of sight. They were holding a white banner with red Hindi words painted on it, which they raised with each chant they bellowed. One of the men was drumming along to the beat as his face brightened from the glow of the drum. I couldn’t understand any of the phrases but I felt their anger radiate up to me with each fist they pushed into the sky. They continued yelling for 20 minutes, with each person in the group taking turns saying a phrase. Some of them got more into it than the others as they danced along to the music.

They moved farther down the street and out of my vision towards the main road. I could still hear them yelling but then the noise suddenly stopped. The men started running past my hostel back towards where they come from, leaving the only sound coming from their sandals hitting the pavement. They each sprinted through people and motorcycles with people watching from around them. Everyone slowly began following them as they crept towards the men’s hostels down the road. It was as if everything had paused for a second, even the trees stopped their dancing to see what was happening.

One of my friends Crystal and I were already planning on hanging out with another student, so we walked down the flight of stairs and exited the gates that guarded our hostel. Our friend sat outside waiting for us.

“Do you know what’s going on? People have been running back and forth for half an hour now,” I said to him.

“You haven’t heard?” he said. “A student committed suicide. He hanged himself from the fan in his room. The police just found him 20 minutes ago.”

People ran past us as we stopped in the middle of the street, the fluorescent lights buzzing above us. I couldn’t find the words to speak, but our friend understood me as he simply nodded his head in an unspoken understanding, watching chaos unravel around us.

Thoughts raced through my head as I stood immobilized. What’s shocking to me is that this has been the third suicide at the University of Hyderabad in the past year, the second in the past 25 days when a girl jumped from a high-rise building. What’s even more shocking is that I’ve become numb to this.

When does this start becoming a problem that people want to take seriously? After the 6th suicide in a month? When you don’t feel any emotional response to someone taking their own life? This isn’t just something that is affecting the West. This is a global issue that I can’t understand how or why it has gotten to the point where we are at.

If this message affects anyone reading it, go tell someone that you appreciate them, that you are grateful they are here on earth.


Anne Berset 


Anne Berset is double majoring in Creative Writing and Psychology as well as a minor in Philosophy. She is studying at the University of Hyderabad in India for the Fall term, where she will be taking philosophy and political science courses. She hopes to gain a new perspective on culture, politics, and religion while abroad. Anne loves to watch films, go on hikes, and spend time with animals.

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Arriving to Tasmania

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.

Melbourne International Airport

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

Landing in Hobart, Tasmania

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.

First family dinner of the Semester. Pictured (from left to right): Jerylyn, Teah, Ciarán, Niki, Me, Flavia

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.

Chelsea Hernandez


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.

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