Studying Abroad

For a number of students, studying abroad is something they want to do whaler they are in university or in high school. It is also a good way to immerse yourself into a different culture.

Karen Backes

“It is a chance to see another country and be integrated into living there that you would if you just visited” said Karen Backes, a University of Florida student.

Miss Backes is currently studying at the University of Western Sydney for the semester and said that her “home university really pushed the whole study abroad thing”.

“I was really interested in Australian History and Indigenous history so I figured the best way to learn about it was to actually come here [Australia]” said Miss Backes. Mary Bryne

Mary Byrne, a University of Western Sydney student, is currently studying overseas at the University of New Mexico.

Miss Byrne said she did a student exchange in high school and knew from that experience she wanted to do an exchange whilst at University.

“I spent four months in USA in 2013 working at a special needs summer camp” said Miss Byrne and said she also learnt to love the US during this time and knew she wanted to back there in the future.

For some students, doing a study abroad program or student exchange program is their first time going overseas. This was the case for Miss Backes last year. “I studied in Australia for six weeks last winter…. That was the first time I had ever flown overseas so I started off my overseas experience with literally the longest no stop international flight in the entire world” said Miss Backes.

So far during Miss Byrne’s stay in Mexico, she has found that Spanish is just as common as English and it took her some time to get use to people going between the two.

“New Mexico has a very diverse cultural life, with many people from Mexico, as well as a large number of Native American population” said Miss Byrne.

Miss Backes likes the fact that the degrees are shorter in Australia and that students do not have to take a bunch of unrelated general credits for their degrees.

“I’m not really crazy on the way the grading system works and having your grade based off two or three big assessments” said Miss Backes, as students in the US will get five or six exams and they will drop the lowest score if you underestimate how much you need to study.

Miss Byrne has found that universities in the US are similar to high school in Australia in terms of the way students are graded as well as the structure of the university life.

To some degree, students who study abroad learn to fend for themselves. Whilst Miss Byrne is living in a dorm room on campus with a meal plan she has gotten used to relying on herself for everything but still finds it strange that she just can not get in her car and drive as she would at home.

For those wanting to study abroad, Miss Byrne said to “Make sure you do a lot of research about where you will be studying to make sure you are prepared”.

She also said that the adjustment period is tough but you will come out a stronger person and to get involved with your new environment.

Miss Backes said “I would just say ‘do it’ because it is a unique experience” as well as getting more out of the experience of being in a different country than if you were just citing a country for a week in your forties on a holiday. Whilst studying abroad does have its pros and cons, it is a good experience to do and you are able to make friends from all over the world.