Madelyn is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Since the moment I decided on attending St. Ben's, I knew study abroad was something that I wanted to take part in. If it weren't for CSB/SJU's dedication to their study abroad programs, I likely would have never found the time or money to live in another country. For this reason, I knew that I had to take this leap of faith and spend 4 months on the other side of the world. Deciding on Australia wasn't too difficult considering I've been fantasizing about visiting Australia as long as I can remember. However, there were many other factors that ultimately contributed to my decision. First of all, the idea of not having to worry about a language barrier was appealing to me. While Australia is rich in diversity and has many opportunities to be exposed to other languages and cultures, I liked the fact that I did not have to worry about a language barrier on a day-to-day basis. Secondly, I looked forward to directly enrolling in the university there and taking classes with Australian students. I knew that this would be a great opportunity to be able to meet and form relationships with both Australian students and professors. Additionally, being enrolled in this university allowed for us to choose from a plethora of classes, including many classes that one would only have the opportunity to take in Australia. Lastly, I was drawn towards the fact that all of us CSB/SJU students would be living in the same building. Living in the P&O with 30 other people made for no dull moments, and these close-quarters really made us feel like one big family.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While I had a few different cultural experiences during my semester, the one that stands out to me the most has to be our week in the Australian outback. We had the opportunity to stay with Aboriginal people for a week, sleeping outside in swags, making our own tapping sticks, eating ants and grubs, and, most importantly, learning an immense amount about the Aboriginal people, their traumatic history, and their rich culture. Each day was filled with visiting many different Aboriginal sacred sites where we learned of the significance of the site within the Aboriginal culture. We also had the opportunity to participate in a traditional Aboriginal dance around a fire. During this dance, I truly felt as if I was part of their culture and felt so honored that we were able to be a part of such a raw cultural experience. Our week in the outback was incredible, and I feel so blessed to have been able to experience a culture that many Australians never have the opportunity to experience.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience was absolutely incredible. It exceeded all of my expectations and taught me so much more about Australia, the world, and myself than I could have imagined. Fremantle is such a unique city with so much history, and of course there are no complaints when the beach is a 3 minute walk away. It was definitely the best decision I've ever made, and I'm so glad that I took this leap of faith.
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?
Spending a semester abroad came with more benefits than I could have imagined. Not only did it benefit me personally through challenging me and taking me out of my comfort zone, but I believe it also gave me so many life skills that I would not have developed if it wasn't for this program. The fact that we had to adapt to a different country and culture definitely had its challenges, but overall I believe it left me better prepared for both my future academics and my future career. I believe that many employers seek openness, flexibility, and cultural awareness within a future employee, all of which one will likely gain in a semester abroad. Additionally, if one is looking to apply to graduate school, I believe that it would be appealing on an application to see that an individual was able to adapt to a completely different education system as it would make the transition from college to graduate school a little less stressful.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would say that if you have the opportunity to participate in one of CSB/SJU's many study abroad programs, do it! While I am of course biased towards the Australia program, I don't think one could go wrong choosing any of the programs that CSB/SJU has to offer. Studying abroad is such a unique and valuable experience, and, for most people, it is the only opportunity they will ever have to live in another country for an extended period of time. Along with this comes so much personal growth as well as a new appreciation for and outlook on both another country and the world in general.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Australia or want access to her personal blog? Email Madelyn at [email protected].