Nothing screams “Adventure of a Lifetime” more than a study abroad experience. As a college student who is soon to graduate, I have applied to travel 9,478 miles from home with group of strangers to explore a whole new continent for 6 weeks. This opportunity is a chance to break away from the norm and fully dive into a different culture from my own.
Do you get excited by talking to different people from all around the world? Do you enjoy submerging into different subcultures? Are you eager to explore all the corners of the world? If yes is the answer, then study abroad is the right move for you!
It won’t seem real until you are all packed up and driving to the airport to catch your flight. When you check in your first bag, a wave of euphoria will roll over you. All the months of anxious waiting turns into this indescribable excitement! Now, you are probably wondering if this is my first time leaving America? Wrong! I was born and raised in Europe, and no, this was not my first time getting on a plane but that did not matter, because I was as thrilled as I was the first time I left the country. It was the moment I had been waiting two long years for, and it was finally here. I couldn’t believe it – I was about to set out for an east coast adventure through Australia!
Prior to leaving, I knew very little about the continent itself besides its popular tourist destinations: white-sandy beaches and kangaroos. I was a clueless tourist emerging on an extraordinary journey of lifetime. I was oblivious to what was happening in other parts of the world. My perception of the “largest island” on planet earth was vague and that was the driving reason to fully dive in into the world of “Down Under”.
During my time “Down Under”, I was enrolled in two college courses that were meant to help me check off required electives that existed as a graduation requirement and to boost my GPA, besides that, I didn’t accomplish anything that would differentiate me from pool of professional job candidates. I did, however, learn about different parts of the world, culture, people, communication, sports, arts, cuisine, politics, the economy, environment and most importantly I learned about life outside of the college classroom. Reggie, by far the best professor I ever had, said, “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page”. I would be lying if I told you I remember something, anything from electives during my freshman year of college, because I don’t, but I am certain that I will forever remember the classes taught by Reggie off-campus, miles away from home, where I explored aboriginal culture through interaction with locals, sat in on a court case, toured the NSW Parliament, went wine tasting, and had a chance to be part of Holden State of Origin series NSW vs. Queensland in ANZ Olympic Stadium. Hands on learning is the best kind of learning.
1) Use your Spare Time to Explore
I quickly learned that my time “Down Under” was limited, class time, excursions and field trips were taking up most of the time and if I wanted to go out and explore on my own, I had to plan accordingly. A day off was an opportunity to wake up early and get on the road and embrace the public transportation that Sydney had to offer. One of my favorite days was taking a bus to Watson’s Bay, where I strolled along the coastal walk that offered breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
2) Talk to Locals
Instances when I was caught to yell out “Go White” and a chance to meet up with my best friend who flew in for the whole 24 hours or spent a day with a former Michigan State Graduate living in Australia, it’s safe to say the world is a small place and you never know who you might bump into. I was introduced to a local fish & chip place, grabbed a beer in fancy bar, explored the backbone of Sydney’s outskirts, and I was lucky enough to go see a local Rugby game.
3) Take Risks
Talk about risks? How about jumping from the sky on your last day in Australia? 14,000 ft! Why the heck not, life is about taking chances, whether it was a good idea or bad idea , I’ll let you decide on that one! But I learned that even if something is uncomfortable, scary and intimidating, take the jump because at the end you will only regret jumps you didn’t take.
4) Live In the Moment
At that time I didn’t know better, and it was during my second week in Australia when I realized to take each day as it comes, that, I am still working on but Aussie’s lifestyle inspired me to enjoy both highs and lows because life is too short to worry about the future rather I promised myself to focus on what’s right in front of me.
5) See your own culture through different lens
Questions like Who will you vote for? or Who do you think will win the election? are more common than questions about occupation and future plans. Aussies express keen interest in our culture, such as politics, news, sports and anything worthy of the news release. You’d be surprised how much knowledge Australians have about America. The lesson is, invest in yourself each year strive to learn something new.
6) Say YES to everything
Say Kangaroo meat? Those creatures that I got to pet the other day? Some would say no way, I said serve it up. Talk about culinary experience, Kangaroo steak is very-delicious lean meat when prepared right. My tastebuds couldn’t get enough so when I had a chance to experience a crocodile burger I didn’t think twice. For all meat-lovers, don’t hesitate to make kangaroo and/or crocodile your ultimate cuisine goal!
I learned that life is more than just a classroom, you’d be surprised how much more you’ll learn when having fun! Everyone has their own story and that’s what makes traveling so beautiful. You’ll meet people from all over the world who love to share their adventures and are curious about yours.
It’s safe to say, that Australia forever stole my heart!