Rachel and her Australian friend cruise Sydney Harbor.
Overseas Study Program
Rachel’s major: Telecommunications
Term abroad: Fall 2009
Reason you chose this program: Wollongong is geographically in such a convenient location because it is close to everywhere you will want to travel and you get an authentic Australian experience because you are living in a community setting instead of a big city. Not to mention, who would not love to love spending a semester living by the beach?
Describe the housing situation: Campus East was an awesome experience. You are surrounded by other Australian Uni students as well as different people studying abroad from all over the world. You truly form a community while living in a typical resident hall like setting. Not to mention the beach is about a hop, skip, and a jump away and the scenery is unreal! You are living in the valley between the ocean and two mountains.
Favorite Classes: Aboriginal Studies was definitely worth taking because you learned so much about the native people of that land and it was so interesting to find similarities between the States and Australia. I also loved my history class about the Pacific World. It was really interesting to learn the history that all the Australia students grew up with.
Best memory: Every place I visited was a great memory in its own individual way. Some highlights though were definitely Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, sailing for a week through the Whitsunday Islands, driving down the Great Ocean Road, and every weekend trip to Sydney was an experience within itself.
Biggest Surprise: They do not like peanut butter to the degree that Americans do. And some of the pronunciation of their words are downright shocking. Go up to an Australian and ask them how to say 'aluminum,' 'capillary,' and 'shrimp.'
What I wish I knew before I left: There are a lot of "extra expenses" for things that we at times take for granted here in the states. For example, it is not uncommon to be charged for internet, ketchup, tarter sauce, etc. Just prepare yourself!
Experiences with culture shock or reverse culture shock: For myself, it was definitely harder coming back to the states than going to Australia. When you get back, you will have changed so much, and for the most part...things will have stayed the same here. Also, you will want to talk and talk....and talk about your experience with everyone! My advice is to find someone who has previously studied abroad. Or confide in a friend who kept in touch with you a lot during your trip and knows what you went through. I have a few friends that just know when I need to talk about it and will let me sit and talk for hours on end.
Going abroad vs. staying on campus: For me, it was nice to have a break from IU. It helps to do something different and to have a different perspective when you return. It’s nice to have time here before you go, time while you're there, and time here after you get back. You also can’t get this independence any other way; it was the best thing I could have done for myself.
Fact about Australia that you think people would be surprised to learn: The toilets DO NOT flush in the other direction. And do not EVER say, "Throw another shrimp on the barbie mate!" They will laugh at you uncontrollably.