Why did you choose this program?
With my major, I had very limited options in terms of where I could spend a semester abroad. After some research, I narrowed down my options to a few cities in Australia and one in New Zealand in terms of where I could get the most credit for my major. Once I did this, I determined that Wollongong was the best option for me. I went here because not only did it fit my academic agenda, but it was a beach town that was an hour and a half train ride from Sydney so I would get to experience both the beach and city side of Australia. Additionally, I decided I wanted to be on the east coast of Australia so I would be able to travel easily between the cities located on this coast.
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad.
While abroad, I took an astronomy class and it was by far my favorite class I took. I knew a little about astronomy before I left, but it was fascinating learning about and getting an educated glimpse into a side of the night sky I had never experienced before.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program?
For the Wollongong program, you are encouraged to live in a university sponsored apartment. These are apartment style accommodations in which you have your own bedroom and then share a kitchen and bathroom with other roommates. Since they are university sponsored, there are student leaders that live on each floor of the buildings and make sure everything runs smoothly and safely. They also plan fun activities for the whole accommodation so that you are able to meet new people that you live with. There are a mix of study abroad students and Australians so you get to live with people from all over the world.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students?
Start planning early. In order to make sure that going abroad is academically feasible, start planning out your course schedule as early as freshman year, especially if you have a major like mine where study abroad options are difficult to find. Talk to your academic advisor as soon as you decide to go abroad just to give them a heads up so they can help with this planning as well.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad?
My two best friends and I went on a weeklong trip to the Whitsunday Islands which is a tourist destination on the southern Great Barrier Reef. We went on a tour that consisted of living on a sailboat for three days. The boat sailed around to various snorkeling spots in the reef and to the famous Whitehaven beach. I met so many incredible people from all over the world on this trip. We also went towards the end of my time in Australia so it was incredible to experience this with my best friends and spend some time with them before we all left.
“If I could do it over, I would…”
Spend more time with my friends and roommates. Towards the middle of the program, I feel into a habit of staying in my room and watching Netflix when I had down time and this is one of my biggest regrets from my experience. Living in Australia quickly became very normal to me that I began to forget how incredible it was that I was even abroad. Even though I only did this for a few weeks, it is still a few weeks I wish I could get back with the people I now do not see every day. If you go abroad, think before you watch Netflix.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn?
Australia was once a penal colony for England. In the 18th century, the jails in England were overcrowded so they began sending prisoners overseas to many of their colonies, one of which was Australia. This is how the English colonization of Australia began.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad?
I used the resources on the Office of Overseas Study website to begin my search. I applied for the Hutton International