My study abroad pre-departure story is a little different. I have been in Australia since February, and I chose to study abroad here during this past spring semester of my junior year. I decided to continue my study abroad experience for a second semester. I picked Australia because it was a place I wanted to see since I was young. The only things I knew about Australia were the typical stereotypes we know of, thanks to Steve Irwin and Finding Nemo.

While researching which university I should attend while abroad, one caught my eye right away. The University of Newcastle located in Newcastle, Australia offered courses for my degree in Public Relations and my minor in Computer Science. It is a smaller city located an hour north of Sydney, with scenic beaches everywhere. I wasn’t keen on living in a large city like Sydney or Brisbane. Newcastle sounded like the perfect place to study abroad.

I didn’t set my expectations high because I wasn’t sure what to expect going to a foreign country alone. I was excited to finally be on my way to Australia. After 21 hours of flying, I knew I had arrived in Sydney when I saw the breathtaking view of the Sydney Opera House outside of my airplane window. I was too excited for words that I started jumping up and down on the plane. I couldn’t believe that I was actually in Australia.

Sydney was my first impression of Australia. It was an energetic city filled with people from all over the world. And the Sydney Opera House is a thousand times more stunning in person by the way. I learned how to surf at the famous surf spot at Bondi Beach, only a few hours after landing from my flight. I was actually not that bad even with jet lag! After spending a few days in Sydney for my program orientation, I arrived at my university destination in the middle of an Australian summer. Saying it was hot was an understatement. I definitely wasn’t prepared for this kind of humidity!

I arrived in Newcastle, Australia in February and lived right on campus. This gave me the best opportunity to meet Australians and even people from all over the world. I have friends from Norway, Chile, Brazil and even South Africa. I loved it here so much and didn’t want to go home just yet. Six months of Australia wasn’t enough time. There was still so much more to see.

I registered for a full-time schedule of classes through the University, which is located in the iconic bushlands and only minutes away from the picturesque Australian coastline. The biggest perk of studying abroad was that it was cheaper than a semester at UA because I am an out of state student, so I had great support from my family back at home.

My first semester studying abroad was filled with many traveling adventures across Australia and meeting people from all over the world. I even managed to travel to New Zealand for spring break, which was the most amazing experience filled with bungy jumping and climbing volcanoes. It was a semester I will never be able to forget, but I was ready to continue the incredible experience for another semester. I have lived here for six months so far and I have only managed to travel the east coast of Australia because the country is so big!

University here is so different from the United States, making it a culture shock in the beginning adjusting to their education system. It is an eye-opening experience learning other educational perspectives, and what other countries think of Americans. One of my favorite parts of living in Australia is the accents. They have the most unique vocabulary and talk quite fast! I learn new Australian words and definitions on a daily basis. It was especially shocking on the first day of classes when the professor started talking in an Australian accent. That’s when reality set in that I wasn’t in sweet home Alabama anymore.

I didn’t expect to study abroad in Australia for a second semester, but with the help of my UA study abroad adviser and support from my parents I was able to do so. Studying Abroad changed my life forever and I wish everyone could have the opportunity to study abroad. I have grown greatly as a person and gained so much experience from just one semester abroad. I cannot wait to see what this second semester abroad will have to offer! Newcastle can offer quite the view: