Brenna is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program? Australia was the perfect fit for me. I wanted a place away from major cities and a place I can explore for myself without being in a crowded place. Fremantle Australia is just that. It is a small port town where I didn't need to have a car to get anywhere because if I could not walk somewhere there was a great transportation system. Australia is an easy going place and I wanted a location I could be relaxed in to allow myself to grow as an individual and be more open to learning about a culture. Australia was a dream come true.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While on our excursion to Shark Bay we met with a couple Aboriginal brothers who told us their experience of their culture. They were raised forced into the White Australian ways and their parents would be sent to prison if they were taught anything about their culture. Now that Australia has apologized for their mistakes and continues to rebuild their relationship with the Aborigines I was inspired to learn more about the Native American culture and U.S. History in general. I have developed a desire to learn more about the cultures in the world but I believe I need to have a more firm understanding of my own before I can even begin to understand more deeply other cultures. Australia's Aboriginal culture came close to my heart and I started to feel deep with passion for the Aboriginals in the community and the effect the Stolen Generations and the cultural genocide that occurred on their communities.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad changed my life. It changed my perspectives, my cultural competence, and expanded my world view. The support I received from the Notre Dame Fremantle campus is spectacular. The study abroad department ensured we not only had a safe place to stay while studying in Australia, but also ensured our time in Australia was focused on more than the education. A lot of what I learned in Australia I learned through the daily encounters with Australian students and the excursions to parts of Australia a typical tourist would not experience. The small town feel of Fremantle made the experience in Australia an experience where I began to feel part of the culture after 5 months instead of someone looking in through a sheet of glass.
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?
I continue to notice differences and growths I made while I was abroad. I have become a more independent and strong individual who does not need to rely on my parents as much as I thought I needed to. I grew up to a point where I feel more ready to live on my own and start the 'real world.' I also believe I have developed a stronger sense of passion for what I believe is right and wrong and I am willing to stand up for what I believe. When learning about the Stolen Generations I developed a stronger passion and was amazed by the things that slipped by in Australia. Academically, I have a stronger desire to learn. I want to learn more about my own culture but also continue my learning in other countries. I learned a lot about Australia to a point where I question if I know more about Australian History than I do of my own. I am inspired to continue learning, even when I am no longer in school.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do it. Studying abroad changes you as a person. It isn't something to hesitate over, it is something you just need to do. Don't worry about the expenses, don't worry about missing your family, and don't worry about missing anything on campus. Everyone and everything will be waiting for you when you get back but I can promise you everyone in your life wants you to have the time of your life and wants you to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. I can't begin to describe that changes I went through while I was abroad, but I can describe the many regrets I would have if I didn't go.