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In 1995 I was involved in an exchange programme where a group of students from Sydney came to our University and I, alongside some other students, went to their University in Australia.

Trading in my University city for one of the most picturesque places in the world was great. Even better was the fact that I received a degree from both institutions. Best of all though was the learning I took from the whole experience.

Being 12,000 miles away from home means you have to grow up pretty quickly. Before this experience I used to head back to my family home every few weeks to get my clothes washed, stock up on provisions and generally get looked after. I couldn’t do that anymore and had to rely on myself to do all the things I had previously looked for others to do for me. There is a great story about the explorer Cortes. When seeking to conquer Mexico he was faced with an aggressive enemy. Rather than running away and seeking solace, he told his men to burn their boats which meant there was no alternative but to fight. I didn’t exactly conquer a country but this was my version of burning my boat and because I did so I prospered and grew as a person.

Another learning I took was the approach my new fellow students took to their studies. The University I attended as part of the exchange was rated very highly and only the highest percentile of students were accepted. Their study habits were phenomenal and pretty soon this rubbed off on me. I am a big believer that we become like those people we spend most of our time with, so we should choose them carefully.

Finally, I learned to love the outdoors life. I have always liked sports but I took this to a new level in Australia. I remember we drove for three days from Sydney to Darwin, experiencing some amazing sights, to go and play football (soccer) in the national student games. On top of that, most weekends would be spent heading off to a different beach or park enjoying nature. I’d like to think this habit has stayed with me as I regularly get out now, whether it’s for a cross country run or a gentle stroll in the woods, experiencing the best of what the countryside has to offer.

This part of my life was 20 years ago but I think I learnt a lot.

In Australia.

This post is part of my 60 day blog challenge.