Riley 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 knew it would provide me with so many new opportunities and challenges. Up until my semester in Australia I had never traveled without my family, I knew that being so far from home without my family and for so long would be really hard for me but I was also excited about the challenge and what I would learn from it. Study abroad is also usually a once in a lifetime opportunity. After college it becomes increasingly difficult to live, work or study in another country. I chose Australia for many reasons. One is because I was allowed to choose so many of my classes; UNDA and CSBSJU work together to ensure a wide variety of courses are available to students. All of the classes I took counted towards Common Curriculum or my major. Another reason I chose Australia is because we had class with Australian students, which was a great way to meet and get to know the people and the culture. Australia is a beautiful country with fascinating wildlife and an intriguing history and culture. Plus we lived two blocks from the beach!!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Learning about the Aboriginal culture in Australia was very interesting. Aborogines are the indigenous people of Australia and they have avery rich and ancient history, learning about that in the classroom was fascinating. We also had the opportunity to meet individuals of Aboroginal heritage and learn about some of the race issues that still exist in Australian society today. Some our best learning and the most impacting cultural experiences came from conversations with Australians we got to know and daily experiences in the country.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was extremely challenging and empowering. There were many personal obstacles that I had to overcome before, during and after study abroad but I would not change them for anything. The challenge of planning and traveling to a foreign country was educational and has provided me with valuable skills and knowledge. Leaving the comfort of home, family and friends is difficult for obvious reasons but I found a new place to call home, a new sense of family with the rest of my study abroad group and friends I will never forget. Throughout my time abroad I did and experienced countless things I never thought I would have and I am so glad I did, I now feel like I can do anything! Study abroad provides you with such knowledge and skill it is difficult to put into words but you will come out of it able to accomplish anything you set your mind to.
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?
There are so many benefits to studying abroad! Personal benefits, for me, include confidence, independence and a better understanding of cultures. Classes in Australia were very different than the ones I am used to taking at CSBSJU. The style of teaching and grading was drastically different and the classes were far more writing and research intensive. Even though this was really difficult, it was very academically beneficial to me; I developed new academic skills and flexibility and my academic writing and research skills have greatly improved. I worked as a Residential Assistant while I was abroad which gave me unique insight into some aspects of the professional world in Australia. I was able to work with colleagues and supervisors in the context of a different culture than my own and those are skills that will be applicable to my professional development for the rest of my life
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Enjoy every experience you have! You can't do it all, but try your best! I had a hard time dealing with the fact that I couldn't explore every inch of Australia and surrounding countries in the four and a half months I was there. That's just not very realistic. Finances, academics and the limited amount of time will all effect what you can do and where you can go while you are abroad and that's ok. Just try your best to figure out what is most important to you to experience during your time abroad and make it happen. Planning ahead makes a huge difference in the number of places you can go and the things you will see. Deal with that ahead of time and make the best of your time abroad and you will have no regrets! I promise you will see so many fantastic things, go to amazing places and meet people you will never forget.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Australia? Email Riley at email@example.com