Chelsea McGlaughlin

"After travelling over 10,000 miles (more than 16,000 kilometres) from my hometown to Melbourne, I did not expect to feel at home, but our group of 22 students from North America was graciously welcomed into the Aussie culture from the moment we arrived.

I am a homebody, so my choice to study abroad certainly abolished my comfort zone. I enjoy familiarity and the predictability of a routine; peace and quiet suits me just fine. I love everything associated with homes - safety, security, warmth, family. There's something comfortable about the scent of fresh paint and shiny new wood floors accentuated by the soft crackling of a fireplace in the living room. To date nothing has matched the sense of accomplishment I felt after seven months of construction as I stood on the front porch of my college's first Habitat home.

I was pleasantly surprised, then, that even after flying halfway around the world, there are reminders of home everywhere. No matter where I am, I can still watch the sun rise and set; still hear birds singing; still see grass and trees and water.

Before I left home three weeks ago, someone told me I was brave for getting on a plane with 20 strangers in Los Angeles and flying to Australia for my first time outside of the United States. What I did not realise was that there would be reminders of home all around me. I might have left the comfort of my friendly Southern town and traded it for 22 days on another continent, but God provided enough cues of home so I would not feel alone or scared.

As a result of this journey, I realise home is never too far away. All I need to do is look around and notice that home envelopes me."