Student to Student
Study Abroad in Australia
If You Have the Chance, Take It!
I knew I wanted to leave my comfort zone, meet new people, and travel somewhere I’d never been. That is why I chose Australia. It intrigued me, and I knew I would never have an opportunity to spend five or six months of my life in a place so far from home again. When I was accepted by Boston College’s program at the Univ. of Melbourne, I took it and did not look back.
Getting everything in order took a lot of time, so give yourself at least a couple of months to get plane tickets, immunizations, a passport, and a visa. (Carry multiple photocopies of all your documents in your luggage, your carry-on bag, and one other place. If you lose one, you will still have another copy in a different bag.)
I would be arriving in July, their winter, and I had to pack light. Once there, people loaned me anything that I had forgotten. I got a hair dryer and stereo from someone who was leaving and couldn’t take them home.
I strongly recommend opening a bank account if you are a student so it doesn’t cost you $9 every time you use your ATM card. Take travelers checks and budget yourself. I figured everything was 50 percent off to begin with, so I was getting a bargain no matter what. Consquently, I spent a lot more than I expected and it kept me from traveling as much as I wanted.
You have to be careful, and no matter how safe a place looks, travel with a friend (especially at night). Don’t risk your safety. Respect the country that you’re in, and the people who are in it. Australians I met had the impression that Americans were arrogant, and that it is not a false impression. I met too many Americans who were constantly saying how much better America was compared with Australia.
On September 11th it was 11 p.m. and I was getting ready for bed when my phone rang and an Australian friend told me I had to come over to his room and watch TV—something was happening back home. I was glued to the television with both Americans and Australians for most of the night. Being so far away from home at that time was hard. I knew I was in a safe place, but I wanted to be with my family. The Aussies were very supportive, telling me that if I needed anything, even just a cup of coffee, I could call on them. Everyone was affected, and learning this made me feel better about the world. You can’t get that perspective unless you go abroad.
Being in a country where the motto was “No worries” has rubbed off on me. I am more relaxed in stressful situations and I appreciate the little things about where I live. I was away from home for the longest I have ever been, and it was such a great experience that I am going back for another five months.
When I look back and realize that I almost decided not to go abroad, I can’t believe I might have missed this journey. If you are hesitant, my advice is not to analyze it too much, just go for it. You are in for one of the most incredible experiences of your life.