Life ‘down under’ offers lessons in patience

Life down under offers lessons in patience

If there’s one thing I’ve had to learn, its patience. Each day I wake up, drink a cup of instant coffee, eat toast with vegemite and a bowl of corn flakes while I wonder where I get to walk to.

If it’s the just bus stop, then I get to ride the bus for at least a half an hour before I get anywhere. If I’m going to campus, it’s a 10-minute walk to go to class, to work, or to check my e-mail. It’s really not that bad; it’s just I always imagined a first-world country would have a bus system which used the most efficient routes and broadband Internet. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some interesting bus rides and I love limited internet use. I just had to adjust.

Australia really is a great place to spend time studying. I’ve taken some literature and cultural studies courses, and I’ve also taken an Indigenous Studies course. There is a much different style of class here; there is one lecture and one tutorial (smaller, focused class) per week. They also give us study weeks – as a study-abroad student I get to use these as travel weeks. Another part of our semester abroad, though, is our service-learning project. My project has been involved at a local women’s prison called Boronia.

This service-learning project is actually why I’m still down here. I went to Boronia for the first time in February to get a tour of the prison campus. It was much different than I imagined. There were no bars, the women were out on the lawn, and the guards didn’t carry guns. Actually, in all of my time there, I’ve never really looked at it like a prison. I also quickly learned I would have be patient with the women until they felt comfortable with opening up to me.

After my first time going there, I met a woman who was particularly interested in what I was doing. Her name, conveniently, was tattooed across her knuckles, so I couldn’t forget. Through the relationship I formed with her, I met nine other women who were interested in talking with me. I would record our time together and then return to them a written version of their story. As of Sept. 7, I have finished all of the writing and the stories will be published through Curtin University for the women of Boronia in November.

It took me nearly six-and-a-half months to get adjusted to living down here. Australia has been a new adventure, definitely a slow one; but I really don’t mind waiting around any more. I love to sit on the bus and think about how this can be one bus, in one city, in one state, in one country, on one continent. There have to be so many people in the world who have to wait just like I do. Patience, I’ve found, is a great habit to pick up – I discover more this way.