My experience studying abroad in Queensland, Australia was filled with unexpected challenges and incredible rewards.
I was only in Australia for two months before the pandemic caused me to be sent home on March 21.
I arrived in Australia a whole month before my first trimester began as I wanted to have plenty of time to explore and explore I did! Within the first week I made friends in my church who made it their mission to “Australianize” me. They fed me my first sausage sizzle, took me cliff jumping and water hole swimming. We surfed at the famous Snapper Rocks and went clubbing in Surfers Paradise.
I had a whirlwind of a month until I began feeling incredibly fatigued. Among many other symptoms abnormal to me, I had lost my appetite and was coughing blood with intense pleuritic pain. Eventually my condition worsened enough that I woke up in the middle of the night choking on my blood. Panicked, I called 000. I was admitted to Gold Coast University Hospital and stayed there for eight days, six of which were in isolation as my COVID-19 and TB tests had not yet come back negative. Eventually I was diagnosed with severe pneumonia caused by a fungal infection, probably caused by jumping into the watering hole with my friends.
A week after being released from the hospital over a pint of Guinness with my friend I got the email that ended my adventure. CSUIP had suspended their programs abroad and I was to return home immediately. I was crushed. A few days of packing and saying goodbye to friends -I thought I had eight more months- culminated in my final goodbye at the Brisbane airport. Sixteen hours later, wading through masked travelers I found my mom at LAX, excited, but sorry to see me so early. I cannot wait to return and hopefully finish my year studying in Australia.