There is something distinctly satisfying about attending class wearing a damp swimsuit with sand between your toes.

I caught the bus early this morning and headed to the beach for a few delightful hours spent reading on the beach before an afternoon class. The weather has finally been consistently nice, and has actually gotten quite hot. Consequently, our dorm rooms also heat up rapidly, and there is no escaping the heat unless, of course, you are swimming in the ocean, which I did after a quick jog down the beach.

My jog turned somewhat interesting when I approached a section of the beach where people seemed to have forgotten their clothing. Needless to say, I was surprised to find a nudist beach not far from one of the most popular beaches in Perth. It wasn’t a huge issue until one of the many overweight and middle-aged men happened to be directly in front of my running path. Wanting to keep as much distance as possible, I swerved and soon found myself half swimming in order to maintain an appropriate personal space area. No worries though, I made it back safely and relatively unscarred with a good story to tell.

I actually just returned from going to the beach this evening for the second time in one day. After doing my laundry and cooking dinner for myself (look, mom! I’m growing up! :), a friend I met at church here invited me to go to the beach with her and some of her friends.

As we sat eating gelato, I couldn’t help but notice how cool it is to be surrounded by people from different cultures with such different backgrounds. Among our small group of five people, we were all from different countries – Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Australia.

And this is where I feel a need to make an unsolicited plug for studying abroad: living overseas has truly opened the door and provided a unique opportunity to continually engage with others from different backgrounds. The understanding from these conversations cannot be taught in a classroom, but must be experienced first-hand. I have learned so much about the world we live in through numerous conversations with international students from across the globe. For whatever reason, tonight brought about a culmination of thoughts I’ve had now for some time, but which I have never been able to put to words.

Exactly one month from today, I will be saying goodbye to Perth. My friends and I are starting to look at the clock and realize that our time here is quickly coming to an end. My Grandpa wrote me at the beginning of this adventure, saying that “almost anywhere you can go in the world there are interesting things to see and do and experiences to live. You should do it all while you’re there because there’s a reasonably good chance you may never be in Perth again.” He went on to say that “when people grow old many of them regret things they did in their lives, but many, many more, maybe almost all, regret things they DIDN’T do. So do it, enjoy it, and keep us informed.”

I am still trying to follow his advice, and I hope to make the most of my remaining time abroad with no regrets upon my departure.

Thanks for reading.

– Stephen