Why did you choose this program? I chose this program for two main reasons. I wanted to visit an English speaking country and a university that offered a great science program. The University of Wollongong in Australia offered both of these plus so much more. In addition, I also chose this program because of the diverse culture throughout the country.
Describe your favorite classes abroad. My favorite classes were my Indigenous studies and Genetics classes. The Indigenous class provided me with a deeper insight into the cultures of not only the Indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand but also those of Europe and the Americas. I learned so much more about the country I was visiting and had a greater appreciation for it. My Genetics class was also a favorite due to my interest in genetics overall and I could experience the different environment and proceedings of a laboratory, compared to those in Indiana I'd worked in.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in Campus East in Fairy Meadow. I loved it! It was close to the beach, had a bus system that went to my university and the city, and offered a great setting to meet other international and Australian students. I lived in flat similar to a dorm with two roommates, who I shared a bathroom with. We had a dining court as well as a community kitchen, game room, and laundry facilities.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Travel as much as you can so you can experience all that Australia has to offer. There was still so much I had yet to see and visit while I studied there. I would also advise flying with another student, especially if it's your first time flying.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My two favorite memories were attending the Final Formal with all my friends hosted by Campus East and visiting Melbourne.
What was your biggest surprise? My biggest surprise was the difficulty level of the classes when compared to IU's classes. I was also still shocked by vehicles driving the opposite ways on streets.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Culture shock didn't really set in until week 2 for me as I was more interested in experiencing everything. Once I truly realized the cultural differences, I was hesitant to change or accept them; but, I did end up incorporating these differences into my own life. I struggled more with the reverse culture shock when I returned home. I loved several different aspects of the Australian culture that I wished were present in America. My parents and friends were confused many times by things I said or did since they weren't very American such as calling McDonald's the Australian name of Maccas.
If I could do it over I would: I would have arrived earlier or stayed longer after my semester to travel more. I also wished I would have packed a bit differently.
What do you know now that you didn't know before you went abroad? I now know that I am very comfortable traveling to new places and even living there for extended periods of time. Before, I couldn't even think of moving states for a job and leaving my family. Now, I am looking specifically for jobs away from home to find a career I love. I definitely found my comfort zone and how to step outside of it.
What fact about your host country would other people be surprised to learn? In my experience, the magpies were more dangerous than the spiders, snakes, and sharks.