When stepping on the campus of a new university in another country, it is most likely that everything will suddenly begin to feel extremely overwhelming. “Who are these people and what am I doing here?” I asked myself as I passed by hundreds of students scurrying to different booths set up across the Great Court at University of Queensland to sign up for obscene amounts of clubs and organizations. I knew clubs would be an effective way to go about making friends, but I also knew that I already had plans to travel multiple times throughout the semester and may end up missing some of the events a club would have to offer. Either way, I forced myself to put my name down on the list for three organizations: beach volleyball, wine and cheese club and chocolate appreciation club (you can see where my priorities are this semester). I found myself attending the meetings occasionally and getting comfortable with my Australian acquaintances. But, I was still looking for something more.

Gab with freinds at UQ
Gab (right) on campus at the University of Queensland with new Aussie friends

The issue was that being the new kid and upper classman all at once is often times awkward. By that time in college (or should I say “Uni”), everyone has settled into a friends group and found their place on campus. Luckily enough, I am enrolled in an introduction to Media Studies class filled with mostly freshman looking for their niche. I took advantage of the small tutorial class that met on a weekly basis to plan a lunch date with two Australian girls who I was grouped up with during a discussion. Within ten minutes of small talk over meat pies, I had found two girls who I would be able to call my best friends from half way across the world. It amazes me how people could be so similar from such distant locations. We found similarities in almost everything we did and even said, with or without an accent. All three of us were completely blind of the four-year age gap that stood between us.

Gab driving with Aussie friends

Since that bold moment when I built up the courage to ask those girls to lunch I have been able to take advantage of a car and an experienced left-side-of-the-road-driver to plan road trip, see new places, find out about local dives and learn more about the young Australian lifestyle. Not to mention, they initiated me into the country with a “Tim Tam Slam,” which is an activity that includes drinking hot chocolate through the iconic cookie of Australia. Yes, I did say through a cookie. I even had the pleasure of receiving a home cooked meal in an Australian household, something I had been craving since the first day upon arrival.

Oh, and it gets better. After probably our 18th discussion about the differences between Australia and America, I learned the most astonishing fact since I have been here. Most Australians do not know what graham crackers are… and worse, they are unaware of the life changing combination of food products that is the s’more. Luckily enough, my mom was travelling to Australia within the next few weeks and would be able to bring these special ingredients to this deprived country so my new friends could experience true happiness. And that they did. I knew I had much more to teach them about junk food, and America in general, but I would wait until they plan their trips abroad when they will come visit me at my home school. Because I know after the experiences we’ve had together that they would take a 15-hour plane ride to come see me again.

Gab on the beach with friends

Gabrielle (Gab) Cerami is a student at the University of Maryland and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Gab is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Brisbane, Australia.