the place that calls my heart

This blog is written by Marissa Showalter. It comes from her personal blog “Riss Lynn Takes Brisbane“. Marissa was a Spring 2017 student from Messiah College. Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been lightly edited. 

This past week has been a tough one. Every day that passes makes me wish more and more that I was on a plane headed back to the place that calls my heart. There are just too many in completes that I left behind in my sweet Brissy, and I want nothing more than to return to finish what I started under the sweet summer sunshine of Queensland. What do you do when your heart physically aches for somewhere else?

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A Gold Coast Beach

You would think that the more time passes, the more I would settle back into life here. WRONG. Yep. If anything, I feel even more listless than before. People here are talking about taking their GREs and applying to jobs, and I can’t help but feel like a frozen over creek, stagnant and unmoving.

I have been encountering so many well-meaning folks who, upon discovering that it’s my senior year, inquire as most do about what my plans are after college. I fake a smile and start going on about how I plan to go to grad school for counseling. HA. Who am I fooling?? Not that I don’t still feel like counseling is my calling or anything, but now I have bigger dreams and weirdly they look a lot like palm trees swaying on a spotless beaches and kangaroos bouncing across a stretch of barren desert.


A mob of Kangaroos

People are usually rather incredulous when I tell them that I want to move to Australia. They think I’m joking or being dramatic or just exaggerating the impact that my time there had on me. “You would really want to live over there?” they ask me. “But it’s so far! Wouldn’t you miss your family?”

Then they ask me what I would plan to do when I got there and that’s just the kicker, because once again, I have no idea. Like, not a clue. I could go and work odd jobs for a little while, which no one would understand once I have earned my degree. I could do grad school abroad potentially, but of course I don’t know what that would mean financially as an international student or the implications for becoming a licensed counselor in the US. All I know is that I need to find my way back somehow.

So this has been an especially hard week emotionally as I move yet again into my new apartment. In the move, I packed up all of my Australia mementos and carefully tucked them away to be prominently displayed in my new home. I cling to even the smallest item that claims even a little bit of sentimentality. You know what? I still have the packaging for a necklace that I received over there that should’ve gone in the trash long ago. And yet I continue to cling.

If I come to a conclusion about all of this, I’ll keep you updated.

Until then.

xoxo, Riss

Father of the Year

Emily Doherty

“Wait for me Dad!” a little boy shouted as he passed the bus stop trying to catch up to his dad during their light jog around the neighborhood both in bright yellow matching running gear. While watching this scene I could not help but think to myself that this little boy is the cutest thing I have ever seen and what a great dad this guy was for spending this quality time with his son. As my time here in Australia progresses the relationship between Australian fathers and their children stands out to me more and more each day. Everywhere I go whether it is on public transportation, at the beach, in the city or even just walking around my neighborhood there are far more fathers taking their kids out by themselves than I have ever seen in the U.S. I see dads pushing strollers and riding bikes alongside their kids. Even when I see moms out with their kids, the dad is usually right there next to the mom. In the U.S it is so unusual to see a dad acting this way with his children; it is almost always the case that moms are the ones out with the kids.

This led me to wonder what is it in the Australian culture that makes dads more involved with their kids. My first thought was that it must be the divorce rate in Australia. I assumed it had to be far less than the U.S which would explain the stronger fatherly presence in Australian households. However, I found that fifty percent of all first marriages in the U.S end in divorce where as in Australia forty percent of first marriages end in Divorce. That is only a ten percent difference which is not the drastic difference I was looking for. There is no way that a ten percent difference could explain why fathers in Australia seem to have a more of a participation role in their families than fathers in the U.S. To go through and research all the reasons why this might be so, would be too long for this blog. What is apparent to me though is that it is common in the Australian culture that fathers are the ones taking the kids out whether on errands or just to have quality time. I cannot help but wonder what this says about American culture. Why did it come as such a shock to me? Maybe it is because in the U.S we do not expect fathers to spend time like this with their kids. I am not sure if I have the right answer to this question but maybe I will the longer I am here in Australia.


Divorce Rate 30/4/12
Divorce rate in Australia 30/4/12