By Samantha Savage, Foster Undergraduate who is participating in an exchange at the University of Sydney.
When I first told people I was studying abroad in Australia, the usual response was why did you choose a place so far? The answer I usually gave was that I probably would go to Europe and Asia but I probably would not go to Australia. After living here a couple weeks and seeing the city, I can say with the utmost assurance I will be back to this country.
At first, I expected to be only meeting Aussies and learning just about their culture; however, instead (to my happy surprise) I had the chance to meet people from around the world and learn about their customs and backgrounds. On the first day of my education in the outdoors class, I was amazed that so many hands were raised for different countries all around the world. I was nervous and excited for this reason but even more confident in my decision in going to the University of Sydney.
Kathleen, you were right, It’s one thing to read about a country and culture but a completely different thing to experience it. Living in America my whole life, my experience so far in Sydney has shown me you learn and grow so much more when pushed out of your comfort zone. But you need to take the first step. In my case, that started with diving at the great barrier reef and swimming with sharks (no worries they were too small to have an interest in me). Now a couple months in the quarter, I am already more comfortable and confident in taking risks such as betting on which crab is going to win (this is huge here), bungee jumping (definitely have to do this in New Zealand), or even traveling alone.
But I think the largest impact on my experience has been the people I have met. Developing friendships with people from around the world, I have learned where to ski in Switzerland, the politics in Sweden, what to eat in Brazil, how to do a proper Mexican blessing, coffee is pretty much a food group here, or even how much better Britain is than America (not my opinion).
My favorite part about this experience has been discovering my passion for traveling and exploring new places. I am not even back home yet and I already planning my next adventure. There is so much beauty in the world, places to see, and people to meet. Choosing to study in Australia was the best decision I made because it has shown me there is so much I haven’t seen or learned about the world, but now I can add Australia to my list and hopefully continue growing it.