Richard Larkin McLay
Richard is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Major: Political Science
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Australia was the furthest place I could go from home, and I figured college was the only chance I could have to study anywhere in the world for 4 months and still be on track with my life, where I couldn't get 4+ months off to travel after I graduated and had a job in the real world.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Spending time in the outback with an aboriginal community had a lasting impact on me. Furthermore, I pretraveled to an island country called Vanuatu where my non-profit is based, and spending 2 and a half weeks there was life changing and made me become more accepting and aware of not only other cultures, but mine too.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Best time of my life, and one of the best decisions I made. I am a completely different person because of my study abroad experience and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I got to do some AMAZING things I wouldn't have dreamed of doing in my entire life: I swam with whale sharks, I painted my body in aboriginal artwork and performed a traditional dance around the fire with the aboriginal community, I went scuba diving, slept under the stars in a hammock in the outback, ate so much food and met some incredible Australians that I still consider close friends today.
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?
Studying in a different country for a semester is WAY different than vacationing to the same country for a couple weeks. Its not even comparable. When you vacation, you take your experiences, values, and life with you, but when you study in a different country and live there for a prolonged amount of time, you open up and really become involved in the surrounding culture. Plus, if you are going to spend that much money on a plane ticket, you might as well stay for as long as you can instead of a few days!
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
DO IT. Seriously. If you are in the mind set that you don't need it, you don't have time, its not that important, believe me, I was in the same boat. But then I made the decision to go (which if you think about it, we as college students don't get to make too many big decisions like this that will affect our lives, so take advantage of that!). I am SO glad I did, and everyone that I know who did not study abroad in my class, and those who graduated, said it was their BIGGEST regret not studying abroad. You don't have an opportunity like this again, especially with one of the BEST study abroad programs in the nation with the widest selection of programs-- you have to jump on this opportunity and just fly with it!
This message especially applies to my fellow Johnnies. Study abroad! Forget about sports, or that feeling of being in your comfort zone, because there is SO much more to your life than that, and you won't regret studying abroad. Be adventurous! If you don't take risks and expand outside of your comfort zone, you aren't growing and that is why you are here at CSB/SJU: to grow as a individual and find yourself, and you do that by studying abroad.