Alecea O'Connor

Alecea 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 love to travel. Some of my first and best memories were on trips with my family, and since I've been born, I've been blessed with the opportunity to travel all over the world. I chose to study abroad in Australia because it was a continent I had not been to before and as a Biology major, the biodiversity was a HUGE draw as well as the fact that students lived about a block away from the beach.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
In our study abroad seminar we talked a lot about categorizing people into stereotypes as well as categorizing cultures into stereotypes and how often those stereotypes affect people ignorant of the actual ways a certain culture or person acts or is viewed. Our professor was spot on in bringing up that point. In Australia there were many individuals whom I talked to that thought all Americans were 'rednecks' or that because we come from the land of the free, all of us Americans have copious amounts of money. Overall, I was just surprised by how much stereotypes affected the way some Australians viewed our culture and vice versa.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.
If you ask anyone that has studied abroad you will probably get this answer - AMAZING!!!  That is definitely a word that defines my experience. Australia now is like a 5 month dream I wish i could fall back into. I had the opportunity to see so much ecology, geology, learn some biology, and get divulged into a culture I wish were my own. Our group joked about how we probably know more about Australian History more than our own because the professors were so great.

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?
After studying abroad, I cannot say that there would be any negative aspects from the experience. Spending a semester abroad gives a person the chance to develop better as an individual by teaching one about oneself by making them rely more upon themselves by not having a parent near or immediately at hand. No matter what you do while you're abroad, you grow in some way by putting yourself out there and living half way across the world for 5 months experiencing new things every day.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer someone thinking about studying abroad is to do it. No matter how much the semester ends up costing you, you will never regret a cent of the money you spent because of the opportunities you were given and the experiences you had. No matter how cliché it sounds, studying abroad really is life changing!

Questions?

Do you have questions about studying abroad in Australia? Email Alecea at abroad@csbsju.edu