Erin Schley

Erin is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Major: Environmental Studies

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
When I was in high school I had the chance to travel to Spain. Although it was brief, two weeks, the experience helped me to grow and gain new perspective. When I came to St. Ben's I knew the study abroad programs here are some of the best. I knew I wanted to study abroad and have the chance to explore again. During my sophomore year it was time to decide on the where and when. Two big decisions that I did not have an easy time making but after looking at the different programs offered and talking with the Office for Education Abroad it was clear that Australia was the right program for me. I chose to study abroad in the fall because it worked the best with my schedule.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I had the chance to spend a week in the desert with an aboriginal family. I learned about their culture and traditions. I heard about the struggles of aboriginals in Australia from their point of view. Something that most Australians never have the opportunity to experience.

During my time in the Outback, I participated in an ancient cultural ceremony called "Corroboree" . A gathering of tribes and cultural traditions. I joined my group mates in portraying an ancient dance inspired by the stars of the southern sky, specifically the Seven Sisters Constellation.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Overall my study abroad experience was the greatest adventure of my lifetime so far. I experienced so much and learned even more. I continually learn more each day even after my return to the states. With every struggle and obstacle I encountered, I learned new ways to problem solve and handle difficult situations. Skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life.

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?
One of the most impactful things I have learned from my semester abroad includes the value of my education. I have been truly blessed by my parents and educators who have given me the gift of a good start in life.

During my time in Australia I learned a lot! I mean I literally learned a lot! I chose to take challenging classes while abroad and although they were not always easy the knowledge and experience I gained made it all worth it in the end. And I mean how many times in your life do you hear the words "for next class make sure to wear your bathers, we are meeting on the beach!" not enough that is for certain. My learning has come full circle, during my time in Australia I was able to apply my learning to my surroundings and since returning to CSB/SJU I am continuing to add to that knowledge.

I benefited from my study abroad experience in that I gained a better understanding of global perceptions and how they can dictate global politics as well as one-on-one dialog. Studying abroad I had the chance to meet heaps of new people and they gave me the opportunity to get to know them personally and learn about their culture. All my learning abroad has helped me develop into more of the type of person I want to be in life and showed me the type of world I want to work to create.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Irecommend that students that are planning to study abroad should:
1. Go abroad to LEARN.
2. Do your best to meet new people
3. Make things happen. Don't wait for others.
4. Be open minded. (Just because something is different doesn't mean it is weird but just different.)
5. Expect the unexpected. You will find being in control abroad is too large a challenge and it is much more enjoyable when you resolve to take whatever gets thrown your way.
6. Explore. Take time every day to explore your host city and what it has to offer even if it is for only fifteen minutes each day.
7. Do your research! Have an idea of what you want to see and do while abroad. You quickly learn that any free time you have is spoken for.
8. Overall always enjoy what you are doing even if what you are doing seems like a waste of time, make the most of every opportunity.


Do you have questions about studying abroad in Australia, or want to have access to my blog? Email Erin at