Kerry holds one of Australia’s native animals, a koala, while visiting a local wildlife sanctuary in Adelaide.
Overseas Study Program
Kerry’s major: Secondary Math Education
Year/term abroad: Fall 2007
Reason you chose this program: I wanted an English speaking country and I wanted to go as far away as possible because I knew I’d never have this opportunity again. I chose Adelaide because I wanted a city that was easy to travel from.
Favorite classes: Life Stories of Australia. It was about Australian history and aboriginals. I also enjoyed a Globalization class which was basically about the United States from an Australian perspective. They always wanted to hear what I had to say.
Housing situation: I lived in a residential college which is like living at Hogwarts (the school in Harry Potter). It was co-ed and we ate meals together every day. There were only 10 other Americans, so I was completely immersed in Australian culture.
Best memory: I went home with an Australian and three friends for a weekend and we camped out in a tent in her backyard because she lived in the country. We woke up the next morning and there were kangaroos hopping by outside our tent! It was quite the culture shock experience.
Greatest challenge: Going back into the freshman mindset of being outgoing and making friends with everyone. I was stuck in my rut at IU, just having one group of friends, but you have to go back to stepping outside of your comfort zone. It was something I didn’t think about before I left.
What you know that you didn’t know before: I would stay for an academic year and save more money before I went.
Culture shock vs. reverse culture shock: I was surprised that they legitimately didn’t know what I was saying. I asked for a straw in McDonalds and they had no idea what I was talking about. I had to act it out for them to understand. When I came home, it was weird knowing I didn’t have to fit everything into a constrained time period.
Advice to future study abroad participants: Pick a place where you can become fully immersed in the culture and somewhere you'll never think you'll have the opportunity to travel to again in your life.
Fact about Australia that you think people would be surprised to learn: On their coat-of-arms, they have a kangaroo and an emu because they are animals that can’t move backward. So it’s symbolic of their country always moving forward and progressing.