Amanda Olson

Amanda Olson is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia

Major: Global Business Leadership

Minor: Psychology

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

I chose to study abroad because it was an opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone, see the world, and learn in new ways. I wanted to change it up and try something new. Studying abroad was the best way to do just that. I decided on the Australia program for a few main reasons. First, my uncle, an SJU alum, had done the same program in 2001. He had told me many stories about his time down under and I was curious to see it for myself. Another reason I chose Australia is because of how far it is. I figured I may never have a better opportunity to visit Australia, especially for that amount of time. I think going so far from home really made it a more eye opening experience and pushed me in ways I may not have been on other trips. Lastly, I have always dreamed of experiencing life near the ocean. I was able to live a block from the beach during the Australia study abroad program. I got to experience a completely different lifestyle from that in Saint Joseph, Minnesota. I absolutely loved it.

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

A cultural experience that had a lasting impression on me was during our CSB/SJU class based excursion down south in Albany, Australia. We spent one of the first days with an Aboriginal man named Joey and his partner. They brought us to the Sterling Mountain Ranges and showed us where the Aboriginal people made a living for so many years. We learned a song about the mountain and their different names, a few traditional Aboriginal dance moves, how they drew pictures in the sand, how they survived off the land, and more. It was such a special day learning about the history of the land we were standing on and visiting. I will never forget how passionate Joey was about sharing stories and information about his people.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My experience was joyful, exciting, and eye-opening. Everyday was an adventure. It did not matter if I had a paper to write or a plane to catch, I was always excited and happy about being across the world in a new environment filled with new friends. I could not have asked for a better experience. I think living at the P and O Hotel in Fremantle made the experience even better because it allowed the CSB/SJU study abroad participants, including myself, to live with people from all over the world and learn new things. It was truly amazing.

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?

A benefit of going abroad was meeting new people from Saint Ben's and Saint John's that you normally may have never had the chance to meet. Another benefit was seeing so many new places and developing a special connection to the place you were based out of. For me, that is Fremantle, Western Australia. I consider it a second home now and I cannot wait to go back some day! Studying abroad in Australia helped me become much more independent. I had to navigate around new places, a new culture, and new experiences. The entire experience helped me grow up so much more than if I were to have just gone to school in Saint Joseph for all four years. I was challenged academically. I had to get used to a whole new grading system and classroom system. I had different assignments and different expectations. I feel more confident coming back to CSB/SJU and finishing my education. Professionally, I feel as though I will be more willing to step outside of my comfort zone and go for opportunities. I was not a huge fan of leaving my comfort zone before going to Australia, but now I know it does not hurt me in any way. I have a better mindset (the sky is the limit) heading into the job search and my future career.

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

My biggest advice is to let go of the uncertainties and go for it. You will find your way while in the destination you choose. It may take some getting used to but it will work out and you will leave with a million new experiences and memories. Another piece of advice is to travel around whether that be pre-travel, post-travel, or just smaller trips on the weekends. Take advantage of being in a new place and just explore! You won't regret it.