Molly Pflipsen is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia.
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I felt that I needed a big change of scenery and I wanted to experience a new way of life. I love going to CSBSJU but I was beginning to get bored and I felt that every week was getting very repetitive. I wasn't going to apply at all but when I got an e-mail saying they were allowing for a second round of applications I decided on a whim that I needed to do it. It was the best choice I have ever made! I chose the Australia program because it literally is the "Land Down Under" and hardly anyone I know has ever been there before. I figured that since we study abroad for about five months I should choose somewhere far away so it will be worthwhile. Not to mention I love beaches, the ocean, and being outdoors and Fremantle has access to a beach on almost every street. The Australia program also had many of the common curriculum courses I still needed so that was another reason why it suited me so well
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The best cultural experience I had while in Australia was easily our weeklong trip to the Outback. I have never in my life experienced anything like it before. We woke up very early in the morning and rode a train all the way to Kalgoorlie, Australia and from there we took a van to our Aboriginal host family at Morapoi Station. Our host family opened up to us and we learned all about the Aboriginal traditions and beliefs. We slept in the middle of the outback in nothing but swag tents (which are basically sleeping bags), cooked over the campfire, and saw a lot of wildlife. It was a true camping experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was also able to try foods I never imagined I would eat such as witchetty grub and honey ants.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made. It was truly the best time of my life and I am SO glad I decided to take the adventure. I went to Australia with an open mind and took every opportunity that I could in order to make the most out of my trip. I hardly knew anyone on our trip but during my time there I met so many amazing people from Australia, CSBSJU, and all over the world and I know we will continue to stay lifelong friends. I learned so much about myself while abroad and saw how independent and optimistic I can be. I adapted to the Australian culture and became far more laid-back and learned to live in the moment and not be so rushed. Fremantle became my home away from home and I would do anything to go back!
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Being abroad allows you to learn so many new and positive things about yourself and what you really want in life. I honestly can't think of anything negative to say about my experience abroad because it changed my life in so many exciting ways. Academically, I was able to adapt to a new schooling system with a whole new structure than what I was used to at CSBSJU. I had so much fun learning about Australian history that I think I can say I know it better than U.S history. It was also very cool to take classes with other Australians and interact with them to see how they live their everyday lives. Professionally, just being able to say you lived abroad for five months in a whole new culture will show how much of an independent and adaptable person you are.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Deciding to study abroad will be the best decision you will ever made in your life! Don't be hesitant, you just have to go for it and take the risk. If you talk to anyone who has gone abroad for a semester they would say the same. Don't get too caught up trying to choose the perfect place because no matter what program you choose, I guarantee you will have an amazing time. Time flies while abroad so you won't even have time to miss your family or friends because you will be so busy living your life in a whole new culture. Pack light, plan weekend trips, and stay optimistic.