Kayla is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austrilia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I've always loved to travel and ever since high school I dreamed of studying abroad in college. I wanted a new and exciting experience. After debating between a couple different study abroad programs and meeting with an Australia ambassador, I knew that Australia would be the perfect fit for me. I liked the idea of going to a country that not many people get the opportunity to travel to and to be able to spend an extended amount of time living there, while getting to know and experience the locals and their culture. Plus, I love warm weather and beaches! Academically Australia was a good fit as well, as they offer courses in my major, which is psychology.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One cultural experience that I will never forget is the week we spent in the outback learning about the Aboriginal culture. At first I was nervous about this trip, but it was a very eye-opening experience that I am grateful to have been a part of. We spent about five days and four nights at Morapoi station, sleeping out under the most beautiful stars I've ever seen. We also learned first hand about the Aboriginal culture and performed a traditional dance on our last night there. We even had the opportunity to try kangaroo, iguana, honey ants, and a grub, which I highly encourage everyone to do even though it is optional. It was a great experience to learn about a culture that not many people know of and get a more in depth understanding of it.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience is one that I will never forget! I had the best time of my life and wish I could already go back. Everyone always asks me what my favorite part was and I have such a hard time with this question because I have so many wonderful memories. My time abroad helped me grow as a person and learn a lot about myself. It also gave me so many first time opportunities such as skydiving, scuba diving, surfing, swimming with a whale shark and much, much more. I absolutely loved the weather there and being a two-minute walk away from the beach, plus Australia has some of the coolest wildlife. Also, I really liked how this program allows you to have classes with other Aussies and the Freo campus is so unique. I really enjoyed living there and cannot wait to hopefully go back one day! Fremantle, WA has definitely become my second home.
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?
There are so many benefits of studying abroad. It not only gives you the chance to travel, but to experience another culture in depth for many months. One of my personal goals was to travel as much as possible while abroad. I was able to visit Fiji, New Zealand, and Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef) during my pre-travel, along with Sydney and Bali, Indonesia during my stay in Western Australia. Further, several students in our group did mini trips around WA as well throughout the semester. Through traveling and being on my own for about five months, it helped me grow as a person and become more independent. Academically, studying at Notre Dame was a semester that really pushed me to better my skills in different areas such as writing papers and learning new subjects like maritime archaeology. I found schooling in Australia to be challenging, as it is just different there, but very rewarding. Lastly, studying abroad has helped me professionally through gaining new cultural perspectives, skills, and knowledge.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
If you are debating on whether to study abroad or not, DO IT! It is such a once in a lifetime opportunity that you will always be able to look back on. You will make a bunch of memories that you will forever get to carry with you and want to tell everyone about. And while you're abroad, try to experience as much as you can and take advantage of all the opportunities that cross your path. Lastly, try to get to know the Australian's and/or domestic students. It will be the best four months of your life :)