Michael is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to know what life was like in another country and understand its culture, so I can find the similarities and differences to my home country. It was a way to push my boundaries and discover a new sense of myself that would make me a stronger person in life.
I decided to study in Australia because I wanted to be the first in my family to be in Australia and I was really interested in learning about its culture. As an Environmental Studies major, one aspect I wanted to study was their environmental issues and how they get through natural resource and sustainability dilemmas. However, I found so much more that enhanced me as a person because I decided to take a chance and dive into the culture. The result was the best four plus months abroad and I would do it again.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The cultural experience I had that made a lasting impression was our excursion to Shark Bay. One specific moment that made a lasting impression on me was when we stopped at Eagle Bluff. It was one of the most sublime images that I ever saw: a contrast of the Ocean with the Outback. In addition, I saw many animals, such as dolphins, rays, sharks, and my favorite of all, an Eagle (hence the name Eagle Bluff). It reminded me why I was an Environmental Studies major: to learn about environmental issues and to help find solutions to conserve all life in an ever-evolving world.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Overall, it was a life-changing experience that I would do again, especially in another country. It sometimes is hard to explain because each and every experience was unique to the individual. I got to do things that I have never done before, learned things that I never learned before, and things that I never thought I would do. From Jackaroo (ranch-handling) school in New South Wales, to scuba diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier and Ningaloo reefs (with Whale Sharks) respectively, to celebrating ANZAC Day, to holding a sea turtle, to watching Australian Football, etc.; the lessons, new skills, and experiences that I have encountered have made me the person that I am today because I took my life and examined it in another country. More surprisingly to me, I broke barriers that I never thought I could break and I made lifelong friendships with my group. It was an experience where you both learn about as well as rediscover yourself. It is a worthwhile experience that people should consider taking. No matter what program you choose, you are forced to "Break Barriers" and discover new things that support you as you go through life.
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?
1) You see the world through a different lens. You find similarities and differences between the two countries, as well as new things that are unique to the country you visit. As a result, your view of the world is enhanced.
2) You learn more about yourself (Through new friendships you forge, new feats and skills you partake in, new interests you carry with you, etc.). For example, I learned to appreciate Australian Aboriginal art and the Didgeridoo. I never would have thought that I would develop an appreciation for Aboriginal artwork because it was a way to preserve the various Aboriginal groups' way of life.
3) Being abroad on my own in a new place has shown me that I can adapt to new academic, personal, and professional settings. It is not always easy, but I did not give up. Being abroad enhanced my personal growth, as well as shown me that I can do anything if I put the time and effort into it.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice to those considering or planning to study abroad is to 1) make yourself presentable during your interview; show that you care about the experience of studying in another country as well as representing your home institution and your country with the highest integrity and safety. 2) Know something about the country or its region that the program is located; this will show that you care about being accepted into the program. 3) If you are accepted, make the best of it; DO NOT sit around watching TV, YouTube, or playing video games, because you will miss amazing experiences and new discoveries about yourself.
To those that are accepted, if you do run into cultural bumps that can deter you, please remember what Lester told my group in New Norcia, "You have to go through the bad in order to become good." This quote means that just because you are going through rough patches in whatever you do, you should not stop and give up, keep pushing through it. Keep calm, stay open minded, and appreciate every moment there: from the things you see, the bonds you make with your friends, the new lessons that come to you every day because time will go fast and you will want it back if it goes to waste. More importantly, you are not alone because there are others who will go through this experience and it makes the effort worthwhile if you go through it together. By doing all that I mentioned, the reward can be something that not only leaves great memories, but it can leave a positive impression in your life development.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Australia? Email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org