Marissa Eckrich

­­­­Marissa is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia

Major: Nutrition

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

I always wanted to study abroad, but wasn't sure how I could make it work with my major. I was drawn to the Australian program because at UNDA I could take any class I wanted to. Unlike many of the study abroad programs, you directly enroll and attend classes with Australian students. Aside from academics, I have always wanted to travel to Australia and live in a different country for an extended amount of time. Australia has so much to offer and I was excited to explore the country and immerse myself in their culture.

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

While in Australia, we had the opportunity to travel to the outback and spend a week with an Aboriginal family. I learned so much about their history and culture as we walked and camped on their sacred land. We ate kangaroo, honey ants, and witchetty grubs, which they were eager to share with us. We had learned about the Aboriginal culture in class, but actually experiencing their way of life was something I will cherish for the rest of my life. They were all so welcoming and this experience was a highlight of my time abroad.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My time in Australia was my favorite semester of college. I met people from all over the world and made so many lasting friendships. The county was so diverse and I loved traveling and exploring new places. I loved living two blocks from the ocean surrounded by coffee shops and cafes. I enjoyed the classes I took, and they challenged me to think creatively. Living in student residences with other international and domestic students was such a neat experience. I made so many Australian friends and learned so much about the county through them. I loved getting to know them as we took part in community meals and activities. The community feel of the residence halls and campus in Australia was similar to CSB/SJU and I loved being a part of it. I would recommend the Australia study abroad program to anyone and can't wait to go back!

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?

Studying abroad opened my eyes to a different way of life and culture. Australia is very similar to America, but living on my own away from the comforts of home forced me outside of my comfort zone. I met people from all over the world and experienced a new way of life for four months. My study abroad experience has given me more confidence to share my ideas and opinions. I have become more aware of world issues and their impact on other nations. I have developed a love for travel and am excited to return to Australia!

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

Go outside of your comfort zone; whether that's taking a class outside your major or camping in the bush of Australia. Do something that challenges you because that's what study abroad is all about!