You know that story where the character needs to leave the big city to go to a smaller place? Well, this is exactly what happened to me. I’m from a really big city in Brazil and I decided to study abroad in a tiny city in Australia called Ballina. Everything here was different from home. I stayed with a lovely host family that helped me with everything I needed and made my life here much better.
The months that I passed here were an adventure. I was in the middle of a pandemic on the other side of the planet. I missed an opportunity to travel to the outback in the holidays, and couldn’t see anyone. But everything got better and, after two months of quarantine, we were able to come back to school and restart our social life again.
I made really good friends over here that I hope to stay in contact with. During the time that I spent here I acquired a love for this city, and I can say that I don’t regret my choice of living in a small town because this place has really changed my life.
I can say that before I came, I hated sand and cold water. But living in front of the beach with a wonderful view of the ocean changed my perspective. I walked hours on the sand and even tried to swim in the cold waters. In the afternoon I stayed to see the sunset and the colors in the sky can’t be described.
I studied at Ballina Coast High School, a place that is different from any other school. They have group desks so you would always sit at a really big table for six people. Most of the classrooms are open, with no walls or doors, just having a glass partition between them. You can join a sports team, or audition too, MAD a theatre with dance, music, etc. That, unfortunately, was canceled because of the virus, but its held every year, and is a big thing. They have a big open space where we can stay with our friends during break, but it is just not so good when it is raining.
I’m certain that I will miss my time here. I leave in less than a month and I’m not ready to go home. This is a unique experience that will help me for the rest of my life. The point of coming to live here was to improve my English and have a different life; a place where you need to get the bus to school, or were you can find your friends working after school.
I can say that living without my parents and in another country for six months was difficult, but worth it.
Luiza was at Ballina Coast High School near Byron Bay from January to June 2020.