Bittersweet

I’m feeling so strange and conflicted. On the one hand, I am absolutely ready to be done. I’m burnt out, exhausted and ready to move on to the next thing. I am ready for the next adventure. I have done pretty much everything I wanted to do here in Brisbane. I’m ready to eat different foods, see different scenery and be done with Uni for a while. On the other hand, it’s painful and it’s scary to say goodbye. I love Brisbane. I love it here. It’s become my home. I have my routines, my favorite place to stop for sushi, I’ve figured out how to get pretty much anywhere on public transport, I know where you can get $3 drinks on a Wednesday night. I’m so sad at the thought that I might never ever in my life see this beautiful place ever again. Although I know that if I want to come back, all it takes is time and money. (Really, any problem can be solved with enough time and money…) I am bored, feeling stagnant, burnt out, ready for something new. And yet… I’m happy with where I am right now and I’m not sure if I want to go just yet. There’s this strange dichotomy in my mind: I feel like I just got here, and simultaneously, like I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve lived in Brisbane for 10 minutes and simultaneously 20 years. I am so glad my parents are coming over at the end of the program rather than during this break. Maybe it’s selfish, but those extra 20 days in Oz are going to be as precious as diamonds to me.   I will do my best to savor these last weeks in the land down under. I have 3 more full days in Brisbane, then 7 in Cairns, 14 on the North Island of New Zealand with my class, then 16 traveling all over the eastern half of the continent with my parents. A little over a month left in this beautiful, foreign-yet-familiar world. So all at once, I mourn and I rejoice, I smile and I cry, and I count down the moments left.

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Politics

I’d like to preface this by asking for respect. I’d also like to ask that anyone reading this post realize my ballot is currently winging it’s way to Herkimer County, so even if you do change my mind, it won’t help anything (and thus it’s probably better not to try). 

I voted this week! For the very first time ever I voted in a presidential election.  It’s an exciting milestone to reach. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to vote, but since voting is compulsory in Australia, our professors made it compulsory for the students in our group. (It was pointed out to me that this rule would be difficult to enforce, but I voted anyway) I wasn’t sure if I was going to vote because I really wasn’t pleased with either candidate. If someone only knew me in 2008, then timewarped to 2012, they’d probably be surprised to hear that. I was a very staunch Obama supporter then. I picked him out really early, way back in the Democratic primaries. I liked the way he presented himself, I liked his policies and I thought he would make a good president. I was hopeful, and wanted change, and all those other things that have now become cliches attached to our president. I followed the election progression with interest, I debated policy with my classmates, I cheered when I found out he was going to be our president. I told everyone, way back at that early stage, that I would definitely vote for his re-election in 2012. Being from a small mostly republican town, I was told I was full of shit. But, I wasn’t. The guy I wanted from the beginning was the President of the United States of America.

Fast forward to present day, and my approach to politics has been completely different. When people bring it up, it’s all I can do to stop myself from stuffing my fingers in my ears and singing “lalalalalalaIcan’thearyou”. I’m not sure what has changed. Maybe its how hurtful the conversation about politics has become. Before, I feel like I used to be able to have friendly discussions, but now it’s all out war. Everything seems radicalized, moved to the far extremes of the spectrum. Politics no longer seems interesting, it seems caustic. I feel like discussing politics is just asking for anger and discord. I feel like people can no longer agree to disagree. And though I know most of my friends are like-minded, I can’t bring myself to bring it up. Maybe it’s just more real now. It’s only now that I’ve actually got (and have wielded) the power to vote, that the desire to be a political ostrich has come about.Maybe it’s because I’m ten thousand miles away on a huge island. Maybe I just don’t want to be judged. I told anyone who would listen that I was going to “throw my vote away on some third party candidate” but I knew that I wouldn’t. Ultimately, I voted for the candidate whose values I felt most aligned with my own. That’s the best I could do, and I imagine it’s the best anyone can do. I’m still hopeful that the politics of the US can change. I hope that the vicious throat jumping can be put aside and civilized adults can act like civilized adults again. Maybe that’s asking for too much. I hope not.