STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I knew coming into university that I wanted to study abroad. I had the opportunity to go abroad in high school and found that I enjoyed international travel and the growth I experienced from it.
Tell us about the program you went on
I studied abroad in Adelaide, Australia for six weeks during the summer of 2015 as part of a program run through The College of William & Mary. There were nine other participants and a professor on the program. We lived in apartments, four girls to an apartment and the two boys shared an apartment. We attended the University of Adelaide for our two classes; Topics in Environmental Sustainability and Cross-Cultural Psychology. The psych course was taught by our William & Mary professor and included a group research project. Our environmental course was broken up into six topics and each topic was taught by a different professor from the University of Adelaide
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
How quickly the time passes! Especially on a shorter program, I found it hard to fit everything I wanted to while I was in Australia. It is hard to plan when going somewhere new but I would definitely advise getting as much planning as possible done ahead of time so that you can really enjoy the experience.
Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?
I didn't experience any discrimination.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
I learned a lot about how to live on my own in a new place and be comfortable in my abilities in an uncomfortable situation. I am more able now to take into account how other people's perspective will influence their experience. It was beyond the whole stepping out of my comfort zone that I experienced leaving home for college and it is something I am forever grateful for. Academically, this was a major research opportunity for me, but I was also able to take classes outside of my major and minor which was really great to expose me to topics I have interest in.
What was the most memorable moment of studying abroad?
We took a weekend trip to Kangaroo Island and stayed the night on a farm with our translator and after dinner we built a fire and all sat around just enjoying each others' company. I am not a naturally social person, so for to head off across the world with 10 strangers and really make a connection was incredibly special for me.
How was the entertainment and nightlife?
We had so much fun as a group going out and finding things to do! We lived right near the main mall so lots of shops and restaurants to check out. And our professor actually grew up in Adelaide and was able to offer us recommendations for pubs and nightclubs. We even got to see a couple music performances and Australian football games! Because it is one of Australia's bigger cities it was easy to find things to do no matter what someone in the group liked or disliked.
In what way do you feel your experience abroad has prepared you for your future career? (Think both tangible things like language acquisition and intangible like learning to work with people who are very different from you)
Number one working with many and different people will definitely help me in my future. I was super fortunate to be connected with The Wilderness Society from one of my Australian professors and I ended up working with them for a few weeks. I was able to help plan for a major sustainability conference and I was welcomed in and trusted with things from housing to sponsors to social media. As someone who intends to work abroad in the future, it was great to get that experience of navigating through how are managed differently.
Would you recommend the program you went on, if so why??
100%! It was a great program that incorporated tons of information regarding the subjects and incorporated field trips and real world experience that just would not have been the same if I tried the same things at my home institution.
What advice do you have for students thinking about study abroad?
JUST DO IT! There are so many programs and ways to manage cost and credits that there isn't a reason not to! If you are scared or unsure, why not take that chance? Ask yourself what you are afraid, what is holding you back from doing something so life changing? College is a unique time where we have so many opportunities and so many resources to help us take advantage of those opportunities. Take the time to plan out what kind of program you are looking for and go to your study abroad office to get help.
Authored by: Arielle Hankerson