It’s this time of year, when the wind creates an arctic tunnel between Bakeless and the Student Services Center, that we all begin dreaming of warmer weather. Now the cold makes some of us miserable, and unhappy people sometimes make highly impulsive decisions to become happy – for me this decision was to take a hiatus from the painfully cold Bloomsburg campus and study in the exotic heat of New South Wales, Australia.
Best decision of my life.
After a couple months of working with Bloomsburg’s International Education (IE) Office – coordinating my travel needs, financial aid, credit planning, and much more – I was set for departure. July before my senior year I began a thirty-hour journey overseas to the beautiful campus of the University of Newcastle.
Located just above Sydney and a couple hours below the surf infested Gold Coast, I found myself in what felt like a postcard. The time flew. I held a koala, pet kangaroos, saw a hundred creatures and plants that could kill me, and met some funniest and genuine people. It was so real, yet felt like such a dream. I learned to surf, went sky diving from 16,000 feet (over a beach), and indulged in the Australian social life. I drove on the left side of the road (Australians get offended when you call it the ‘wrong’ side of the road), and I even went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I felt like I lived an entire lifetime during the six months I resided in the country. Believe it or not I studied too.
Classes were set up much differently than American classes. You would go to giant lectures for an hour or two and then at a later time you would participate in a lab-type class, which was much smaller and more hands on. The grading system was obscure as well. It was not based on A, B, C, D, F – instead it was graded on High Distinction, Distinction, Credit, Pass, and anything below that couldn’t transfer back to the USA.
Ye,s I missed my family and friends. Yes, it was scary to leave home and head virtually to the other side of the world. Yes the Australian accent is intoxicating in person. And finally, yes I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat. Along with memories, I have even found myself networking with people from German, Britain, and even other American’s who experienced traveling abroad.
If I learned anything from my trip, other than how to avoid being eaten by giant alligators or how to prevent death in case of a poisonous snake bite, it would be that the world is a big place and there is much more to experience then what is right in front of you. I would highly recommend to any student to look into the opportunity while still in school. We are still young and right now we have so many resources at our disposal – especially, with the IE Office here at Bloomsburg.
If you are at all interested in a life changing experience, the IE office will be holding an Information Fair for Study Abroad and Exchange possibilities(March 2nd).
For More info head to the Student Services building. It may be a once in a life-time opportunity to go anywhere in the world, and it could be the best decision of your life.