Scott Sprenger is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The most memorable experience I had was the week my class spent with an Aboriginal host family in the Kimberley near Broome, Western Australia. We got to go see some areas that outsiders can only see with special permission from Aboriginal community elders, as long as we have a host along with us. We got to participate in authentic Aboriginal traditions and learned so much about their history. This was a part of the Australian culture I was totally unfamiliar with before I went there and learned so much about a culture that is normally over looked. The Aboriginal culture is unfamiliar to many Australians and their culture has only recently been introduced into Australian educational curriculums to help educate more people about them.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
Studying abroad was one of the reasons I came to St. John's. No one in my family had ever done anything like this and I wanted to see more of the world than just America. I chose Australia because if you look at how long it has been colonized it is one of the youngest countries, it did not have a huge population that could become overwhelming, and I was able to live close to the Indian Ocean. It also included the unique opportunity to be directly enrolled into the university that other programs do not offer. I had the ability to experience college classes as if I was just any other student.
Describe your overall cultural experience
It felt like the "vacation" of a lifetime. I got to spend over four months of my life two blocks away from the Indian Ocean and also within two blocks of every classroom. I hardly knew anyone from CSBSJU that were studying abroad with me and had no idea that I was going to be living under the same roof with students from Ireland, Wales, England, Lithuania, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and various parts of Australia. I view these people as some of my best friends now and try my best to keep in touch with all of them. I traveled and saw as much of Western Australia as I possibly could and had experiences that impacted my life in ways I did not think were possible. The experience goes by so quickly that the end of the semester came out of nowhere and I was not ready for it to end. Some things did not seem like much at the time but now that I am back in the States I long for some of the simplest things. I miss small things like going to Coles for groceries, going to get fish'n chips with my friends, or laying out on the beach with my friends. They call Australia the Land of Oz and after living there I now know why.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
I am a global thinker now. After living with other students from Europe and Australia I am not as ignorant about global issues as I used to. I have a little bit of a travel bug stuck in me and want to make the most out of my ability to travel while I can. I really grew as a person during this trip. I matured while living there and found out how it was to live and cook on my own while balancing a busy schedule. I feel like I lived as an Australian while I was there and that helps me to appreciate different cultures from my own in ways I could not have learned without studying abroad.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Have some idea of what you want to do and see before you leave for Australia but realize that your plans are going to change. There were three things I was set on seeing before I left for Australia and I did not find the time to see any of them with all that I discovered when I arrived. Keep an open mind while you are abroad because there is so much that you can learn from every person you meet and every place you go. Do not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone because you will regret not doing things that you can only do or see in Australia.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Australia? Email Scott at email@example.com.