Eric spent a semester in Australia. He also participated in a summer program in Athens, Greece.
Overseas Study Program
Eric's Majors: Psychology & Criminal Justice
Term abroad: Fall 2012
Reason you chose this program: I chose Australia because it’s always been a dream of mine to travel there. I had enough room in course requirements that I could take a semester abroad and not worry about being behind on graduating.
Describe your favorite classes abroad: All my classes were pretty cool but my favorite class was probably my Mysteries of Forensic Science class. It was about learning the science of crime scene analysis and how to actually do all the things you see on CSI and those types of shows. We learned about blood splatter patterns, DNA analysis, finger printing, and we actually got to do a mock crime scene investigation, which was really cool.
Describe the housing situation: I lived in a dorm that was just like freshman year here. Each college "dorm" is independently owned and has its own personality much like it is here. I chose Trinity because it was the biggest one, with 400 students who were mostly all Australians with some other internationals. From the description it sounded like this dorm would give me the most authentic experience of really being an Australian student, and it was by far the best decision I made.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? I would say not to worry about making friends or how you're going to spend your time. There are going to be a lot of other students there in the same boat as you and you'll be surprised how close you become with people in such a short time.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? I think the biggest surprise was how many people from Africa and the surrounding islands were going to school in Australia. I was surprised to hear that a lot of my friends were from Africa and were simply going to school here. That and they really don't like kangaroos over there. Apparently they're worse than deer when it comes to causing car accidents, so much so that some of my friends avoided driving at night at all costs. Everything else was as I expected it. Beautiful country and some of the nicest people I've ever met.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I think the reverse culture shock hit me hardest. Everything in Australia seems to move at such a relaxed pace that coming back to the US was kind of overwhelming at first. That and I missed hearing the Australia, British, Irish, and South African accents that became routine in my every day life.
Complete this sentence: "If I could do it over, I would…" ...have stayed for a whole year." I became a lot closer to friends than I thought was possible in a semester and leaving was really hard.
What do you know now that you didn't know before you went abroad? That we as Americans put peanut butter on way too many things. My friends’ reactions when I started eating apples with peanut butter was pretty funny. A couple of them ended up really liking it after a while though so I guess it was a win.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? Things will be a little more expensive because the minimum wage in Australia is higher. I would've saved a little more before I left or budgeted differently.
What was your greatest challenge? I think not being able to drive or not being able to get a home cooked meal was hard at first. I've had a car since freshman year so I felt pretty independent. If I ever needed to be home for any reason, I could get myself there with no problems. Although the public transportation system is pretty good in Perth, the ease of having your own car was a luxury I missed.
Discuss the following: Going abroad vs. staying on campus. I would say if the opportunity to go abroad comes up, take it! Nothing compares to being able to go to another country and experience a different culture from your own. Being away will teach you things about yourself that you might have not known, and having all the experiences and memories make for great stories to share when you're older. It's never going to be easier to travel abroad than when you're in school, so go out and do it!
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? They don't eat spoonfuls of Vegemite like some people might think. Although they do love it, they usually eat it by spreading butter on toast first and then spreading a thin layer of vegemite on top.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I was fortunate enough that the current scholarship I have here at IU also counted towards my tuition in Australia. I also received an Australia exchange scholarship that made the program more affordable. It made so that my semester abroad was basically like freshman year again, with a dorm and meal plan costs.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? Please be specific. The Hutton Honors International Experiences Program scholarship seemed to be the straightest forward in terms of application and requirements. You need a 3.4 to apply and I think most people that ask, receive some sort of help.