Wow, I can’t believe this is real life. I have been in Sippy Downs, Australia just a little over a month and have not had time to write yet. There is so much to see and so many people to meet. Of course I miss family and friends, but I have never been much of a home body. I love the new experience and know I will be home soon enough, so home sickness has not yet kicked in. I have definitely, however, experienced culture shock. It is not bad and I do not miss the things of America (except Ole Miss baseball season of course)… it is just different. The first day I went running I ran smack into a kangaroo on campus. He simply stepped aside and let me pass on the side walk. We don’t have a dish washer or a coffee maker, but I will probably never make coffee in a pot again. Though it is convenient, it is so much better out of the kettle with a little honey and milk. My roommates and I have family dinners almost every night and I really appreciate cooking our own meals as going out without a car is not really an option. Last weekend, I went on a surf trip where I got on a surf board for the first time. I’m hooked. I got bruised and toppled on by the unyielding ocean, but being out so far, past the breaking of the waves, is the most liberating feeling in the world. Sitting on a board with the sun beaming down… I looked out into the endless ocean and the magnitude of God’s creation was made real to me. As I’m sitting there I notice something come out of the water about 3 arm lengths away from me… 2 fins. The initial shock was an adrenaline rush, but calm overcame me when I saw them again with perfect harmony and grace swim around me. Apparently it was common for dolphins to come hang out and swim with the surfers.
On our way back from the surf trip, a 6 hour drive, the bus stopped to let all 60 uni students eat in Byron Bay for an hour. I completely fell in love with this city. We grabbed something fast so we could make our way to the beach and check out the surfers. The town was so beautiful and the people were so laid back. Their care free lifestyle intrigued me. As we got back to the bus, I made the first step on and stopped. I don’t know what came over me, but I looked behind to my friend Jess and asked, “Do you have class tomorrow?” When she answered that she did not, I look forward to the bus driver and said, “Do you mind letting us get off our bags, I think we may stay tonight.”
Somehow I convinced 4 girls to stay with me. Rushed because the bus had to leave, we got off our bags and waved goodbye in a matter of 2 minutes. My heart was pounding when the bus pulled away, but I couldn’t back out now. When the bus was out of sight, my friends looked at me and said, “Now what?”
We found a hostel and ended up staying with the 3 coolest back packers. We saw Donavon Frankenreiter in concert that night and literally tore up the town. The next day was to most marvelous day on the beach. We ended up on this local website and my friend Emily and I got hair wraps like when we were little girls. A shuttle, bus, and train ride later we were home, with the most epic 24 hours of our lives behind us. I definitely could not explain it in words.
I know I have many more epic hours to experience and I can’t wait to see where they go in the next 4 months.
My first few weeks here I felt very spiritually thirsty, as it was not like home where I attended church every Sunday and had many Christian mates. There are far fewer religious people here than in Oxford, Mississippi, but I have recently found the most amazing church and met some of the most wonderful people. People here are curious about faith and have many, sometimes very complicated, questions (that’s to you my friend Vanessa haha). It is amazing how opportunities arise and I get to share more about myself with others (even some random surfers in Byron Bay). My mom will probably kill me when she reads this and finds out about the whole Byron Bay fiasco (sorry mom love you), but I know she trust me. Please trust Mom that I am being extremely safe. I am learning that is not always about having a plan, because it is not our plan anyway. God takes us on these journeys in life and the exciting and sometimes scary part is, that we get live it.
I will write soon even though it is becoming hard to balance school work, with my want to go to the beach every day. Not to mention, I am trying to find a job, build relationships here, and still confused about some back home. I will do it though, because anything worth having… is worth working hard for. You see, you can’t stop the waves in your life… but you can always learn to surf on them.
~ Haley Kesterson