and the journey continues …

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Hi friends! It’s me again. I warned you that I might not be very good with this whole “blog” thing. I seem to have proved myself right, but no worries! Updates are coming your way.

So I have officially been living in Australia for a little over a month now, and what a month it has been! I have been crazy blessed so far with the people I have come in contact with, the experiences that I have had the privilege of living through, and this STUNNING place I get to call home for about three more months. It doesn’t seem like a long enough time to take it all in, but I will endeavor to appreciate every moment while it lasts — even the moments when I am waiting for the bus that is a half hour late, trudging to school for forty minutes with sweat dripping down my face, or waking up at 4:30am to finish the assignment that I didn’t complete the night before, because I was socializing in some way or another (classic Marissa, I know 😉 some things never change, even if your country does).

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ASC goes to Stradbroke Island! We spent the weekend learning about Aboriginal culture.

My first week was filled with orientation fun with the American group that I came over with. There are 23 of us total from all over the US, and each and every person in the group has such a beautiful heart and spirit for this journey that we are all on together. Getting to know them has been wonderful, and I’m so excited to see where God takes us for the remainder of this semester.

While here, I am also living with a host family. I moved in with them at the end of my first week. My host parents are Tony and Linda, and my host sister is Katie, a 15-year-old who reminds me a lot of my own 15-year-old cousin Katelyn. This family has been such an INCREDIBLE blessing. I prayed so fervently before leaving the US that God would send me to a home that would be a perfect fit, and He has so far surpassed my prayers (but He usually has a way of going above and beyond like that, doesn’t He?). He is so faithful and good to me! In this foreign place with foreign people and sometimes-foreign practices, having a surrogate family to step in on behalf of my own has made the transition infinitely better. They have lovingly invited me into the fold of their lives: adjusting their habits to make room for another person in their house, taking me along to barbeques with family friends, and introducing me to young adults at church. I so appreciate them!

As far as school goes, all of the Americans are required to take two courses specifically for international students (still getting used to referring to myself as an “international” student! lol) at my uni, Christian Heritage College. These classes are “The View from Australia” and “Australian Indigenous Worldviews.” The first course is all about engaging with the culture of Australia and seeing it in juxtaposition with my own culture, and how our Christian faith ties it all together. This class is my favorite by far, as they present us with so many interesting readings and videos and take us on valuable excursions to really get to the heart of culture. I also enjoy my Indigenous studies class as well; it is such a unique opportunity to learn about a marginalized culture from a woman who is a part of it herself and can speak to her personal struggles and how her Christian faith plays into her cultural beliefs. In addition to these classes, I am also taking a Christian Worldviews class and a New Testament class, which I get to take with local students. This has been wonderful because I’ve gotten to know quite a few Aussie friends through these courses!

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Christian Heritage College, my uni!

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D Block at my uni, aka the place where I take my international classes

Another one of the things that I so love about this place, though, is the richness of the diversity that you see among the people here. There are so many nationalities represented; I have gotten to know not only Australians, but also Kiwis, South Africans, Japanese, Indians and so on. The opportunities to see from so many differing perspectives about so many aspects of life, extending from my education at CHC to talks about faith, have been invaluable.

17264504_763157163851127_4970005875284495214_n I love to hear from others, see their point of view, and incorporate it or adapt it based on how I see the world. I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago that I feel like it is almost a disservice to the Creator to not go out and explore this vast world that he has lovingly crafted, because there is so much more worth discovering once we step outside the comfortable little box that we have created for ourselves. This truth has been proven time and time again since being here. I am such a better woman for having done this program, and I am only a month in. It’s exciting to see where God continues to lead me while on this journey.

There is SO MUCH MORE that I could write about, but I will just leave it here for now so you all aren’t reading a novel of my life.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo,

Riss

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Burleigh Beach at Gold Coast

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Ferry ride to St. Helena’s Island

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