Kelly Barrett

Personal Discovery

Social Discovery

Cultural Discovery

I hiked Mt. Beerwah in the Glasshouse Mountains of Australia.


Semester Abroad: February 2009
Host University: University of Queensland
Home University: American University
Academic Major: Public Relations 

Tell us about your experience hiking Mt. Beerwah.

Kelly Barrett

Two American friends and I joined a couple new Australian friends to travel to the Glasshouse Mountains. Brad and Duncan, our Australian "tour guides" for the day, drove us out to the mountains, and the drive had some amazing scenery. It was funny how we drove through the bustling city of Brisbane and within 20 minutes found ourselves heading into the bush. We arrived at Mount Beerwah that afternoon after about a 40-minute drive and stared up at the huge mountain before us. Brad had said we were going to climb a mountain, and I have "climbed mountains" before, but nothing compared to this.

It was an actual mountain with really steep cliffs and it looked actually impossible standing before me. Then and there, I decided I wasn't going to be able to do it, but little did I know that I didn't have much of a choice in the matter--everyone else was climbing Beerwah and I had to as well! So we trekked up, the stronger guys having to help us in a few rough patches and parts where you needed longer legs than we actually had, but ultimately we made it up to the top of the mountain in a little over an hour. It was absolutely exhausting! But the view from the top made it all so worth it, and the sense of accomplishment we felt once we got there was something you just can't describe. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience I won't ever forget.

What did you learn about yourself personally through this experience abroad? 

I learned that when something looks impossible, that is just your insecurities trying to scare you away from doing something that will ultimately be very rewarding. I learned that I am stronger than I usually think, physically and emotionally. 

How will you use this experience in your future professional endeavors?

I will remember this experience when I am faced with a task that seems impossible. Climbing the mountain, you couldn't keep looking at the top thinking, "That is so far, how am I ever going to do this?" You just have to think in small steps; get to this point, rest, do it again, move on, you will be there soon enough.

How did this experience help you adjust to life abroad?

First, it allowed me to make a few new friends and bond with the friends I had already made. It also showed me that there are a lot of unknown things out there that are sort of off the beaten track that can be really rewarding and fun and that you don't always have to do the same old stuff that the tourism guides and the mainstream media tells you needs to be done when you are visiting a certain area.

What advice can you give to future students who are interested in being an active participant in their study abroad experience?

Try to get out and meet and become friends with locals as much as possible. Sometimes it can seem scary or intimidating but you would be surprised how easy it really is. I actually have found it easier to make friends with Australians while I have been here, because they are interested in getting to know you and learning about the culture you come from. Plus, most Australians love to talk about themselves, which is great because I want to learn as much about them as possible while I am here as well. Become friends with Americans as well, because you can support each other when culture shock sets in, and will have similar desires to travel and go out and do new things, but also try to mix things up and meet people in different places.


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