Before, I thought the extent of my educational career would be a bachelor's degree that hopefully would result in a decent paying job, but now all that has changed. Studying abroad made me fall in love with learning again, a sensation that I never thought I would feel again since first entering college.
Our time spent in Queensland was definitely the highlight of the program for me. That was where we were able to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef and explore the Daintree Rainforest. Being able to see the Great Barrier Reef first hand was truly amazing.
I walked around Sydney looking at Architecture of tall buildings, the Anzac War Memorial, old town hall, and the fancy hotels… I enjoyed the park where exotic birds would feed off old bread, I had a haircut at a Chinese salon, and I enjoyed the harbors water, as the wind would blow me away. I did this almost every day.
Our group abroad was incredibly fortunate to have professors that were extremely well connected in the countries we found ourselves in. We were able to tour all of the major government buildings in both countries, pet wild kangaroos, and even go to dinner with the Australian Secretary of Defense.
Having a program that provides a comparative look at different systems is an excellent way of educating. This was the most beneficial aspect to my studies. My eyes were opened to how our own system works in a way that never would have been possible before the trip.
The symposium to name a few events included a tour of the Australian Parliament House, a briefing with U.S Diplomats at the embassy, a dinner and briefing with the High Commissioner of Pakistan, a private tour of the Australian National Zoo... amongst other events.
We also looked at the marketing side and how the Olympic venues and park itself are being used and maintained today. Studying the Olympics in Australia was a completely different experience than studying in a classroom at MSU. Our lectures were actually held in Sydney Olympic Park.
My new friend, Shaloh of the Maori culture, took us to Ohinemutu village and introduced me to his language, religion, family, values, and traditions. While there, we were able to see and smell the natural hot springs and sulfuric gas release from the ground. My group was required to sing him a song before being welcomed into the village, and he taught us the traditional Haka dance. I gained a lifelong friend and respect for other cultures.
After settling in for a few days I started my internship at Cromehurst special education school that Monday. My internship challenged me and gave me a new perspective on life. I spent my days interacting with and assisting special needs children.
While in New Zealand we had activities planned for us everyday. This is an aspect of the course that makes this program unique. There is never a dull moment!
I traveled almost as far away from America as I could, emerged myself in the unique culture and made lifetime friends out of complete strangers from all around the world.
Some of the activities we got to experience were sports training weekly with Australians (my sport was surfing), we got to see a symphony at the famous Sydney Opera House, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, toured an Aboriginal National Park, hiked through the Blue Mountains, visit the zoo, and also went wine tasting.
Though I had great experiences academically, the best aspect of my experience was the people. The professors were wonderful at helping me adjust to an unfamiliar system and feel comfortable.
To make a long story short, I got lost, had an old lady get mad at me and then fall asleep on my shoulder, had a lady flirt with me as I was asking for directions, and finally I ended up running about two miles to get to the beach, but even still I arrived just in time to meet my whole group and hit the surf with them!
Seeing these animals in the flesh gave new meaning to my career in environmentalism and the way I consider ecosystems altogether.
The month-long program was unlike anything I had ever experienced, in terms of the academics; the travelling; the landscape; the people; the wildlife; the culture; and the thought-provoking impressions left upon me.
As a first generation college student that comes from a low income family I never in my wild dreams pictured being on the other side of the world studying another culture so foreign to my own.
My education will never end, because my study abroad experience taught me that there is a world full of things that I don't know yet, and a world full of experiences awaiting me.
Bridget in Australia: I also gained independence from living in another country on the other side of the world; this whole trip changed my life and I grew as a person as a result.
Being able to just wake up and walk to the beach was a gift itself. Living in Australia has strengthened the idea to travel the world and see even new things.
There were wild kangaroos that lived in our backyard that would let us pet them and one even hopped in our cottage and was hanging out in our living room.
While it would have been amazing enough to go to Australia’s capital and just see the inside of the federal government’s court house, our program was lucky enough to meet their Chief Justice of the high court, Robert French, and witness a trial in action.
The underwater biological community was like looking at a sprawling metropolis of exotic sea life in the clearest blue water one can ever imagine. Seeing the interaction of the different types of fish and other marine life in the Great Barrier Reef has created memories that will last a lifetime.
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef really enhanced my learning experience because I was able to see first-hand some of the principles of sustainability and conservation that had been discussed in my study abroad courses and readings as well as courses I had previously taken.
The five months I spent in Australia have been the most treasured experience of my entire life. I feel truly blessed and appreciate getting this opportunity to grow not only on a worldly level but a personal level as well.
It's one thing reading about the Aboriginals in history books, but it's a completely different story being able to meet an actual Aboriginal and having the opportunity to interact with them personally and get a first-hand account on how they view themselves in Australian society.
In addition to the regular classes held while in Sydney, our group supplemented field trips for classroom time on occasion. Having the opportunity to get out of the classroom and learn hands-on about the Australian government and justice system was vital to this program.
Most importantly, many of our guides were Aborigine, which made a huge difference in the material that we were presented. The professors in my wildlife class tended to focus on the scientific aspects of the flora, fauna, and geological formations we studied, whereas our Aboriginal guides described their historical, cultural, and artistic importance.
I went to Sydney in pursuit of learning about another country’s culture along with teaching methods and that is exactly what I found.
Looking back, I laugh when I think that I was afraid of the things I would miss at home, and not afraid of the experiences I would miss if I stayed. I would have never surfed at Manly Beach, I would have never seen a professional Rugby match, and most importantly, I probably would have never met the 18 other MSU students, whom I was lucky enough to have as my family for a month.
I would have to say that I am so glad that I chose this particular program because I also got the chance to live with a host family during my time abroad. The host family experience to me because I had never been hosted and my host family hadn’t ever hosted a student either.
I have often dreamt of pursuing a career in renewable energy resources such as wind and wave energy, and in Sydney I was able to convert that dream into reality. After studying various forms of renewable energy at my host institution and being pulverized by giant Tasman waves on a daily basis, I decided that a career in wave/tidal energy was in my greatest interest and I began researching. As my interest in the field expanded, I deci
In life as we grow we encounter experiences, which leave our insides yearning for more. It may not be until these experiences are over, that we realize how important and meaningful they really are. Studying abroad in Sydney, Australia was one of those experiences. I applied for this study abroad program not only because it pertains to my major but because it allowed me to escape the torturous winter in Michigan.
Soon after my family dropped me off at the airport for my study abroad program, I was overwhelmed with feelings of excitement, wonder and panic. I was about to leave the country for longer than I had ever been away from home without knowing a single person going with me, not being able to come home anytime I felt like it, and unsure how often I would be able to talk to family or friends.
During my time in Sydney, we were able to attend a State of Origin rugby game, which is comparable to the Pro Bowl for American football, except that the State of Origin game is taken way more seriously than the Pro Bowl is in the United States. The game is played in ANZ stadium (the stadium that housed the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney) and is a HUGE rivalry between New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.
I cannot be more grateful for this experience that Michigan State has given me. It has opened so many doors and opened my eyes to a world I had never seen. This was my first trip abroad and I cannot wait to make many more and hopefully work with and help children from around the world. I cannot give enough thanks for this opportunity and the life experiences have been priceless.