Introducing Helena Xiang: Adventures in the “Land down under”

IMG_4310(Brief) adventures in the “Land down under”

Starting something new has never been my strong suit, so it was extremely out of character for me to leave my comfortable home and family in Canada to start my adventure in Australia. I was planning on going to a local university to stay close to family and friends. However, the opportunity to study in JCU’s MBBS program which was located in one of the countries on my list of top countries to visit gave me a strong push towards adventure. I had always had this romantic vision of Australia and vowed to at least retire in Australia.  Australia, in my mind was a beautiful country (and more importantly warm), filled with exotic creatures and wonderful people with gorgeous accents. I was tired of -40 degrees Celsius winters, and shoveling the snow on our driveway every other day. After coming here to Townsville, I was definitely not disappointed. 

I remember first arriving in Townsville this February, the hot summer weather was beating down on me. I, unfortunately arrived during the summer heat wave in Townsville after leaving -20 degrees Celsius temperatures in Canada. Still wearing my boots and a coat, a wave of mixed emotions was surging through me. I was feeling excited yet sad and scared at the same time. This was the first time I had ever left my home, and it was all the way on the other side of the world. The saying “go big or go home” was never truer until that moment. I was extremely scared that I wouldn’t make any new friends, and starting to feel terribly home sick. However, my fears were unfounded. Everyone I lived with on college were super friendly, and extremely welcoming to an international student like me which helped ease my transition into a new environment away from home. They even gave me a much needed lesson in Aussie Slang 101. I’m glad they did, because even now after a full semester, sometimes it feels like they’re speaking an entirely different language.

I remember meeting a very nice person from Sydney. During lunch he told me that many foreigners have a misconception about Australia. Kangaroos were not as common as we were made to believe. Just as he said that, a wallaby raced past the window of our college’s dining hall. I can’t say anything on the wildlife in Sydney because I’ve never been there, but the wildlife here in Townsville was just as I had imagined. Geckos, lizards, wallabies (haven’t seen a kangaroo yet), koalas, bats… The list is endless. The birds are especially amazing! I have only ever seen cockatiels and parrots in zoos or as pets, but they’re so abundant on the streets of Townsville. I was so startled when I heard my first kookaburra. It sounded like a swarm of angry monkeys, which made me think long and hard about the presence of monkeys in Australia. Before I arrived in Australia, I had also heard of the menacing magpie and their swooping. The magpies I’m used to from home never posed any threat, but the magpies in Townsville… Oh my… They even look menacing. I have yet to live through magpie season, but apparently it’s coming up soon so please… Wish me luck!

Coming to JCU has given me no regrets. Everyday I am surrounded by amazing people who are honestly some of the nicest people I have ever met. Even on campus, everyday is an adventure where I see new and fascinating things, and the program I’m taking is amazing!


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