Exchange Wk44 (Holiday Edition) – Philly Finale

This is it – my last blog post from my time in America! Leaving Washington DC around 7:15am in the morning, I arrived back to Philly at around 9:15am. This saw me arriving in Philly on the 18th of June where I stayed until I flew back home during the afternoon of the 21st of June.

For completion, below is the complete travel map for my travel around the USA during my end of exchange travels!

On arriving back to Philly, I caught an Uber to go to my last Church service with Redemption City Church. It was obviously a bitter-sweet moment, being that I would not be back to see my Church family in-person for at least another year. Towards the end of the Church service, my friend Corry prayed for me which was incredibly touching. It was sad leaving, but I was so incredibly blessed to be a part of such a loving network of Christians here in Philadelphia, and the Church was a true highlight of my time in Philly. Members of the community were always there for me, especially during the troughs of life.

After Church I travelled to Fort Washington to catch up with some friends for dinner. Once again, it was really sad saying goodbye to my friends, but it was still a really nice gathering, and I know that I’ll see them again in the not-so-distant future.

On the 19th of June, I got to hang out with some of my Christian Union friends, and I was touched that some of them came in to Philly to say goodbye over lunch!

On the way back home, I stopped at Delco’s Steaks. The Cadmans (my next door neighbours in Australia) gave me a voucher to eat there for my birthday, and I hadn’t cashed it in yet. So, I decided to spend it all on one swoop, and I bought the biggest Philly cheesesteak they had… It was simply beautiful!

For lunch on the 20th of June, I caught up with Corry and Ryan for lunch. They, as well as Cory (with 1 “r”) who couldn’t make it, have had such a positive influence on my time at Penn. I met them through the various Christian groups on Campus, and meeting up with them over the year has been such a blessing! As you can see from the image below, I had yet another Philly cheesesteak (I wanted to enjoy them whilst I still could).

Later that night some friends got together to go and watch the Philly’s play the Atlanta Braves.

Later that night, I also got a chance to say goodbye to my mates Jack and David who were a part of my Bible Study at Penn.

Despite having to travel the next day, my friend Matt and I proceeded to play Madden on the Playstation 4 until very late in the night.

And with waking up the next morning, it takes me to my last notable photo from my time on exchange in America (the remaining photos are of planes and the KFC I ate at the airport). This photo was with Corry as we stopped on the way to the airport for my last Wawa meal, and importantly, last Wawa Boston cream donut:

With that, my exchange to America came to a close. I’m often asked what my highlight from my time abroad was. The answer is simple, the relationships that I formed during my journey. I met some of the friendliest, kindest, caring people during my time abroad, people who I’ve tried to stay in contact with now that I’m back in Australia. I am so thankful to God for meeting so many genuine people, people who bring the best out of me.

Here are some leaving quotes that I shared in my closing letter to my friends in the Christian Union. I think they do a good job at capturing my time abroad.

The first quote was the Bible verse of the day (August 21) before I was due to depart to the United States. I took a screenshot of it, and it is currently my favourite verse of the Bible (Joshua 1:9), as it reminds me that God is with me regardless of where I am in the world:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 (New International Version)

To my friends I wrote, “This is the Bible verse of the day the day before I was due to fly out to the US. I was frightened and nervous, and this Bible verse reminded me of God’s love and that He is always with me. It brought me to tears reading it that day. Remember, the God of America, is the God of Australia. He is with you no matter where your adventures take you.”

Another interesting thing about this Bible verse is that at the Bible museum in Washington DC (mentioned in this post), they sold t-shirts with this verse printed on them. This was a full-circle moment for me! I bought the shirt, and now have to wait to lose some weight before I can wear it…

The second quote comes from Dr Seus:

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Dr Seus

This quote reminds me that instead of focusing on the the sadness of leaving my friends, I need to focus on the happiness of having spent time with them.

My final quote comes from Dune which I was reading during my Amtrak adventures:

“Parting with people is a sadness; a place is only a place.”


Whilst this quote appears paradoxical when placed next to the Dr Seus quote, it is the meaning behind the quote that I find so compelling. It was my relationships that made my time abroad so special, rather than necessarily the places that I was in. This is not to say that Philadelphia was not a great city (I love Philly), but it is the people there that really made my time so special.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

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