One year ago, I moved from Dallas, Texas to Sydney, Australia. A few weeks before I left, a good friend of mine told me an analogy that has been very relevant to my life this year...
There’s an experiment where a scientist put some fleas in a jar and put the lid on it. The fleas could usually jump out of the jar very easily, but after a few days, the fleas stopped hopping high enough to hit the lid on the jar. When the scientist took the lid off, the fleas were unable to hop out of the jar because they believed the lid was still there. But, when the scientist moved the fleas to a larger jar with no lid, the fleas were able to jump out of the jar. Moving across the world was like getting put in a larger jar with no lid. I have no doubt that I could have learned a lot from staying in Dallas, but there is a level of “stuckness” that I felt. Moving across the world and attending college has allowed every part of my life to expand and grow substantially.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about what my life has looked like in Australia, what Hillsong College is like and some things I’ve done.
I attend Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia. It’s a college that’s attached to a church called Hillsong Church. The college is a blend of a traditional degree program but emphasizes the application and interaction, more like the apprenticeship style of training does. I attend classes 4 days a week and serve every Sunday at one of Hillsong Church’s smaller campuses which is about an hour drive from the college campus and 5 minutes from the beach. It’s called Hillsong Northern Beaches. I love it because I get the huge megachurch experience in the Hills, and the smaller church experience at the Beaches. At this campus, I do lighting, drums, coffee and photography.
Going to Hillsong College has truly changed my life, as cliche as it sounds. I believe in myself and have a deep confidence in myself that I never really had before coming here. One of the school’s mottos is “we believe in you more than you believe in yourself.” I can’t stand when people try to put me in “my place” or shoot holes in my ideas, so it’s incredibly refreshing to be a part of community that always empowers and challenges me to be the best version of myself without doing that.
from grad ball - our formal
LIVING IN AUSTRALIA
I live in a suburb of Sydney called Bella Vista. It’s an hour drive from the mountains, beach and city. This past year, I’ve lived in two houses, each with 5 guys.
In March, I got a job working on a farm (it’s not really a farm and we do more landscaping type stuff but it sounds way cooler saying I work on “a farm.”) It’s funny to think I’m an “immigrant farm worker.” I used to lowkey hold a stigma about people “like that” in America that were immigrant laborers, so it’s kinda funny that I now am one. The couple I work for is very kind and they teach us landscaping, carpentry and gardening skills. I also did a bit of tiling.
Being so far from my original home does come with some downsides. It’s hard being away from family. There’s a sense of connection through social media, and the phone, but a constant awareness that deeper connection can only happen with proximity. That’s challenging for me because I can never truly know what’s up with people back in Dallas. There’s also a struggle of being away from everything familiar, including the doctors, parental guidance, and transit.
There have been some moments where I “learned the hard way” what not to do. My most notable mistake was when my car window got stuck. In Dallas, if something like this happened, I would just ask my dad to check it out and he would either fix it or get the car serviced. My Y chromosome kicked in I decided to try to fix it myself. A few minutes later, I had a very shattered car window. Another time, I was on public transit alone for the first time, I accidentally took the wrong bus home and my phone died. I somehow ended up in bus storage center and my 1.5 hour trip turned into a 4 hour trip.
An amazing thing about the greater Sydney area, is there is public transit everywhere. I’ve had a car since I could drive, so I never used or needed public transit, but it’s actually amazing. Having a car is great for the groceries but it’s amazing being able to bus to the city, not worry about parking and fees, wonder around and make your way back from anywhere in the city.
Every time I bring up that I’m studying in Australia, somebody seems to mention wildlife, so here are some photos of my aussie wildlife experiences
THINGS I’VE DONE
This year, I started and joined two bands, boyish. and no good. and started a project called ARTHOUSE. boyish and no good will both be releasing music this year and be playing lots of shows. ARTHOUSE is an organization that hosts events featuring artists in the community. So far, we’ve had 6 events.
I’ve taken 36 beach trips (not including church), 6 trips to the mountains, 2 trips to a glowworm tunnel, and countless trips to the city.
This year has been the best of my life. These are some of the people that made this year amazing.
To end this blog, I would like to thank everyone that made this experience possible. Hillsong College is a private, overseas college and they do not offer scholarships internally and the US Govt. does not offer scholarships, even though it is accredited. I was very fortunate to have my first semester tuition payed for by a private donor, but my parents have been the biggest reason this all has been possible. There have been countless times that my mom has sacrificed her income so that I could stay afloat, or when my parents sent money to pay for insurance and a plane ticket. My mom has always had a way of making it work for me and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. They both have always pushed me to follow my dreams and chooses the largest option even if it’s the scariest. From application to the end of the year, my mom has been a wall of support and assurance in what I’m doing, but never in a pressuring way. I feel like the list would never end on my mom’s sacrifice to make this experience the best it can be. I am so so so fortunate to have supportive parents that have my back if anything goes wrong. None of this could’ve happened without them.
all photos shot on 35mm and polaroid film