Real stories from students studying abroad from all over the world!
I'm sure many of you are aware that most Universities across the globe have the opportunity for amazing study abroad experiences. Many people take the plunge to a world unknown to them, and many people are unsure about the programs.
In each editorial of COLLEGE we bring you stories from study abroad students across the world. This issue is all about the Aussies down under! From the beautiful country of Australia these two students share their stories of what the trip has been like for them!
G'day mate! My name is Nicki and I have been studying at the Australian National University that is in Canberra, Australia for a little over 4 months now. Canberra is just 3 hours south of Sydney. To say my experience here has been amazing would be an understatement!
The format of the classes is different here than in the states. Here, there is a lecture each week for the class which is basically the professor teaching out of the textbook or PowerPoint slides. Then, every class is associated with one tutorial a week. Here, a grad student or professor leads the class in discussion, practice and answers to any questions that arise.
The cultural barriers between the Australians and Americans aren't too noticeable. The only thing I have really noticed is the quality of customer service over here. For example, when you are at a restaurant waiters/waitresses aren't as attentive as in the states.
Wait staff over here are paid minimum wage which is about $15-$22/hour. A lot different than the states! One thing that is so awesome about being in Australia is how many people you meet from all over the world! I have met people from so many different places.
It is SO much fun traveling! Since being here in Australia I have traveled all along the coast visiting the Gold Coast, Fraser Island, Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, the famous city of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and I have even visited the South Island of New Zealand. Students our age who travel around are called backpackers over here.
The cool thing about staying in hostels (cheap accommodation for backpackers) is that you get to meet new people and hopefully find friends to travel with. I would say 80% of the backpackers travel alone.
My recommendation for anyone traveling abroad is to not be afraid to make new friends! You will learn so much about yourself making the plunge to travel to a new place all by yourself. Make sure you save up some money, because things do add up quickly, but the experiences you will discover will be worth way more than any price tag!
If you would like to know more about Australia I made a blog for my family and friends to follow at home. www.nataustralia.wordpress.com
--Nicki Thoma, 21 Penn State University
Going abroad may have been one of the greatest things I could have done. Not only for my personal life, but also for my academic and professional life. It really made me realize how massive the world is and how much more is out there. I think that everyone should experience it. I think that when you put yourself to new and sometimes challenging situations is when you really grow as a person and learn. I'd say I'm more confident in interacting with people and more welcoming to different cultures.
What's unique about the school I'm studying at is that it's an international school, so I'm meeting and get to study with people from all over the world. It's really fascinating and it has definitely has opened my eyes to other cultures. I'm meeting some really great people that I'll never forget and hopefully stay in contact with.
Coming here initially I didn't know what to expect of language barrier. Going to an international school definitely made things interesting because everyone's speaks their home language but nearly all of them are speaking decent English --the Americans are the only group that only speak one language. So everyone still interacts but it can be a challenge. There's even a slight language barrier with the local Australians which I wasn't expecting. They seem to speak in a much more formal manner and use more Old English. They also speak faster and use a lot of their own slang words that I can't follow.
The grading scale is different here, as well as the work load. One thing I didn't expect is that the internet isn't as fast and Wi-Fi is hard to find and its usually not free. Advice I'd give for people studying abroad is to forget everything you know about the American culture and really emerge into the new culture. A lot of people aren't getting the most out of the experience because they aren't welcoming of other lifestyles and culture. Sounds cliché, but take advantage of every day you have here.
--Jennifer Sakanich, 21 Indiana University of Pennsylvania