Living a Real Game of LIFE, and How Taking Chances Got Me to Sydney

Amanda Hagy is a student at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Sydney, Australia.

Flick the spinner in the middle of the board and go to college or into a career. When I was ten years old these were the big questions I pondered. Would I be a doctor, actor, janitor? Would I get to retire at the millionaire estate, or the sub-par retirement home? Unless you took that initial chance and flicked the spinner and moved the spaces, there was never a chance of seeing where the iconic board game of LIFE took you. Similar to LIFE, in reality there is always the option to make a change or take a risk. While neither path guarantees a desired outcome this can only be learned through choosing to take a chance and seeing where the open roads go.

Enjoying a morning sunrise in Byron Bay with fellow ISA students.

Freshman year of college was a literal roller coaster of ups, downs, spins and loops. Originally, I thought I needed a small school, when in reality I found it more limiting to my overall needs. My grades started to take a downward turn, my long-term relationship was fizzling out, and I couldn’t seem to connect with anyone or any aspect of my campus after numerous attempts. One nippy day in November I woke up after being in bed for twenty three hours straight. I was barley able to recognize the sad figure that stood before me in my mounted mirror. I knew this couldn’t continue anymore.

Me feeding a wild Kangroo at a wildlife reserve in Brisbane.

That spring I made the big decision to transfer colleges. I retook a class, and worked really hard getting accepted to the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. The following summer and fall I worked three jobs, rushed my sorority, went skydiving, got a tattoo in my uncles memory, was accepted into my honors fraternity, and so much more.

Exploring the rocks with a fellow ISA student in Bondi Beach.

Change isn’t easy, but without it one isn’t able to grow. Before college my uncle passed away of cancer, and I had four more extended family members that followed by my senior year. I felt as though I was always constantly losing someone, and was scared to connect to anyone for this reason. I didn’t realize it then, but if it weren’t for hitting rock bottom, I wouldn’t have realized my own strength to defy any situation put in front of me and that life could end tomorrow, so you might as well take the risk.

ISA excursion to the Blue Mountains with other ISA students.

A month and a half ago I followed through on my bucket list and arrived in Sydney. I’ve been on cruises in the harbor where Finding Nemo was inspired, fed a kangaroo, went to the famous beaches of Bondi Junction, surfed the waters of Byron Bay, met and learned some of the stories and heritage of Australian aboriginals, and have had way too many Tim Tams to count. I’ve made not only Australian friends, but British, Indian, and more. I’ve begun cooking meals, working out regularly, and volunteering at shelters. My course titled “Gender and State,” makes me appreciate my freedoms as a women back home, and converse and understand other perspectives from different regions.

Birdseye view of Brisbane Australia on the first day into the country.

Life is as limiting as you chose to make it and my past is what has shaped me. I’ve made countless mistakes that have become invaluable lessons. I didn’t come from a bland background, and my varying experiences are what make me value diversity in everything. I value all the friendships that have given me great support, and realize others will just be part of the past. Studying abroad has given me the ability to piece the past and present together, while practicing and attempting to pursue goals of becoming a professional journalist. If I hadn’t taken chances, I wouldn’t be living out my dreams, traveling, and getting to share all my adventures here in Sydney that are just being written.

Stay tuned, this is just another beginning.

The world awaits…discover it.


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