“It was only natural for my friends and family to warn me about coming to Australia. I was warned about the various dangerous animals that might kill me; sharks, crocodiles, venomous snakes and even the mythical creatures known as “drop bears.” However, as I sit and remanence on my experience abroad I realize that these warnings were irrelevant to the real threat in Australia…the infamous and volant animal known as the Magpie. Now, if you don’t know what a Magpie is (count your blessings) and please direct yourself to image 1. The image itself penetrates through the soul of the cameraman and their horns and demonic tails are often visible: relics of their evolutionary ties with Satan himself (ok, I might have drawn those in..)
Now, I could bore you with details about my experience abroad, about the strangers who became close friends and the hardships that pushed me to grow as an individual both spiritually and mentally. But instead, I’ve chosen to write about my first brief encounter with a Magpie. Now, please note that this story is not meant to deter or dissuade you from visiting Australia. This place still holds my highest regards. This is simply a warning about the unspoken truth regarding the demons that dominate the treetops. A warning that could have saved me a lot of heartaches had I known before coming.
It was a day like any other in Queensland. The weather was scorching hot and I was cycling my way to work. There I was, cycling along the path in my very glamorous work attire: an oversized collared shirt with a splattered combination of orange, purple and green designs. Very flattering. When all of a sudden, I get bumped on the top of my head…Immediately, I felt mortified for the defenseless bird that had just ‘accidently’ flown into me. The poor creature is going to be traumatized, I thought. However, my empathy was short-lived as seconds later the demon plummeted once again from high above. This was no accident; it was an attack.
The story continues with me biking at unearthly speeds as the magpie returned to finish the job, and ends with me wailing my arms frantically at the air and falling on my bum. Needless to say that I have developed a not-so-slight fear of Magpies.
Drawing from this experience, amongst others, I can assure you that studying abroad isn’t always a breeze. Being fully submerged in a different country forces you to accept a new reality that becomes your life. At times, some aspects of your “new life” are easier to accept than others. And at the risk of sounding cliché, I admit that these are the challenges that often have the most to offer us. Traveling naturally puts you in uncomfortable and unusual situations, but this discomfort drives self-reflection and personal growth.
On that note, I leave you with a quote by one of the most notorious Doctors’ around.
“If you want to catch beasts you don’t see every day,
You have to go places quite out of the way,
You have to go places no others can get to.
You have to get cold and you have to get wet, too.”
- Dr. Seuss