I joined a sorority and celebrated a milestone!

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Days Abroad: 40

I have not written in ages! Largely because school got really busy, but mostly because my time management has been terrible. Then again, I am a college student so what else is new. If you follow me on social media, most of this blog will not be news to you but more of just filling in the blanks.

I wrote last that I was going to go two-stepping again so refrained from writing about it in my previous post. It did not happen however, so I shall make you wait until I go again before I tell you all about it – sorry… That day was the first time I really felt homesick; everything that I had tried to cheer myself up and have fun went askew and I just wanted to go flop on my sister’s bed and have her know exactly what is wrong with me just by looking at me. I went and bought myself Starbucks and sat in the common room instead.

On the topic of lows, do y’all know how exhausting it is to have the exact same shallow conversation multiple times a day every day for over a month? And on top of that be identified by something that you have never really identified with while losing your other identifiers? I’ll tell you, it’s draining! I was meeting all these new people but conversation never reached beyond the surface – and if you know me well, you know that I do not function well on shallow friendships, we’re going deep or we’ll struggle to keep going.

I did not want this blog to only record my positive travel experiences, because that would be unrealistic and, well my heart is permanently out on my sleeve for all the world to see. One does not simply spend time with Petro and not experience the mess that my heart is. So, welcome on in friend. Realistically, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows, but I have never once wished to be anywhere else. When I miss home, I miss my people and the mountains. I miss walking down the street and being guaranteed to bump into a few friends or at least see familiar faces. I miss being known, cherished and loved. I miss the green beauty that New Zealand has to offer. But I am so at home and so content here. I love the people I am meeting and the opportunities that are running my way. I love realizing my dream of being here and every day walk through campus with a massive smile on my heart.

Enough with the sad things, even though I want to write about it you guys didn’t sign up for that, that’s what the other blog is for.

The hot topic of my social media spam this weekend; I joined a sorority! I know, classic American thing to do… But it’s not the classic Greek life where I had a long rush process, went through intense hazing (it’s illegal…), live in a fancy white house, where slouchy clothing but keep my makeup on point and party it up. No, we hang out with hammocks, hang out with Jesus, still have cool t-shirts and love each other closer to Christ. I joined Sigma Phi Lambda and am so happy I did! I have met the most amazing girls, have the sweetest big (basically someone who takes me in as their person for the semester), and have opened the door to even more amazing opportunities and hangouts.

To summarize the last 16 days: getting in routine with studies, assignments and first test, basketball, more basketball, Indian a Capella and after party, study groups, pretending that it’s winter, getting back on the gym grind, death by treadmill (always convert miles into kms before you run 8.5km in 50min at 5am), Starbucks, fatty foods, Ellen at UT, s’mores, rolled ice-cream, first softball game, Phi Lamb induction, brunch with my PG (prayer group), seeing Bevo (UT’s mascot), Sunrise Sunday (spent quiet time at Zilker Park as the world grew lighter), Skype with my better halves, lots of hanging with Jesus and a very, very happy heart.

Watching sport has changed as I know a few of the athletes, so instead of just supporting a team I get to watch my friends – I finally feel like a local. I started recognizing faces at church this morning and had a 3+ hour conversation about God, the stupidity of boys, family, life and everything in between with a friend and am able to walk somewhere with multiple different routes (a massive achievement if you know me and my sense of direction). Let me tell you, it feels great! Austin really has begun to feel like home. Yes, it is still obvious that I am a foreigner, cheers Kiwi accent, but I have embraced the beauty of being different and feeling uncomfortable. Best of all, every time I turn to Jesus and say “this is hurting” or “I wish this could happen”, He blesses me with that exact wish without me having to put in any effort.

Vulnerability was the challenge I set for myself last year, to be 110% me wherever I am, never to hide behind something I am not, to have my heart wide open and say yes to things that will both scare me and challenge me. Studying abroad is a beautiful experience, you are really forced to dig down and find out who you are at your core – because you need to present that to the people that you meet, as they have no stereotypes or boxes to put you in. You have to learn to be comfortable in new environments and put yourself out of your comfort zone. Most of all, you need to learn the freedom of doing things alone. Not because you are lonely, but because if you wait for someone to come with you, you’ll miss the opportunities that will really grow you.

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