I always knew that I wanted to study abroad at some point in undergrad, I just didn’t know when, where, or really understand how it worked. When I began looking into studying abroad, I was immediately overwhelmed with all of the program and location options. After researching different aspects of the different programs, anywhere from weather to language to course offerings, I was able to narrow it down to Australia. I found that not many people from the States come here, probably because of the ridiculously long flight, but it made the most sense for my agenda.
The flight definitely is the hardest part about coming here. But, the long flight, oddly enough, helped me solidify my choice in coming to Melbourne. My thought process was something along the lines of “I’ll never have a chance to go to Australia again, and the flight is so long that I would not want to go unless I was there for at least a month”. Another thing that really helped me pick Australia is the diversity of the country. It is such a massive country, similarly sized to the US, that there is an endless list of things for me to see while I’m here. Cost was another big factor in my decision. Australia is definitely a pricier country, but I was able to find a nonprofit program, USAC, that made the numbers a little less intimidating. Tuition here is only a fraction of my tuition at UA, so housing and my flight was definitely one of my bigger costs.
My first few days have been hard. There has not been too crazy of a culture shock yet since America and Australia have a lot of cultural similarities. But, it still has been hard to adjust. Melbourne is 17 hours ahead of Tuscaloosa time, so it has been hard to find a schedule to talk to my friends and family from home. I also came into this knowing absolutely no one in the country, so I have to make a conscious effort to meet people and make friends. Luckily, there are other people in the same boat, and most universities recognise this and hold events that allow you to meet people. Although it has been hard and scary moving 9000 miles away, I know that it will be worth it as a grow to love this country and get to see how other people live. Not only am I meeting Australian students, but also a ton of other international students, especially from Asia.
If you’re debating studying abroad, my only advice is to just go for it. If you spend too much time thinking about the what-ifs, you will just psyche yourself out of it. The only place I have seen in Australia so far is my bedroom, but even then I am happy that I came here and I know it will be worthwhile experience.