Abigail Bentley

Abigail is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia

Major: Peace Studies

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I have always loved traveling - definitely something most people say, but if you know me, you know that I love it more than most. By studying abroad I would have the opportunity to visit numerous places in one go. Australia has always been my dream vacation and when I had the opportunity to turn what would be a two week vacation into a five month long move, I had to go for it! Australia is on the complete opposite side of the world and by going there I would also have the chance to visit other places such as Southeast Asia and New Zealand which would likely not have been possible in my near future.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

We spent a week in the southern part of Australia in a town called Albany. While there, we stayed at Camp Quaranup (an old quarantine station now turned camp) and spent a day participating with an Aboriginal man, Joey, and his wife Catherine. Joey and Catherine brought us out to a sacred Aboriginal site where they then marked us with red clay and taught us dances the Aboriginal people do. The girls learned the 'Emu' and the guys learned the 'Kangaroo'. Those might not be the correct names but those are how we remembered them. The dances were so much fun to learn and participate in while also learning about the culture and meaning behind it.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

To put it simply: TIME OF MY LIFE!
To this day, the months I spent in Australia were easily the happiest of my life. I made an amazing group of friends, learned so much about the Australian culture and history, had the opportunity to see how the education system works in different country, saw countless beautiful areas, and made hundreds of memories. I will admit, I was a tad nervous about going to the other side of the world, especially to a country known quite well for its outdoors - I am not a huge fan of the outdoors. Looking back, going abroad was the best decision I have ever made. 

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 helped me grow as a person. I was immersed into a new culture, as far away from home as I could get, with unfamiliar people, a new education system, and unsure what to think of it all. After going through that experience, I have become more outgoing, eager to see what else life has to offer. Spending an entire semester abroad made me look at life with a new perspective.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

If you are considering it, DO IT! You will NOT regret it!!
If you are planning on it, make sure you do a little research or speak to students who have previously participated in your specific program. I was extremely unprepared with how I packed and what I had expected. For example, if you go to Australia, it DOES get chilly! You WILL need clothes other than shorts and swimsuits even if you think "I'm from Minnesota, I'll be just fine." No, no you will not once May comes around.