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A Semester in the Land Down Under
Our Featured Study Abroad Student, Chantelle, tells us what it's really like to study in Australia!
What did you major in while at UMD?
I double majored in International Studies and Communication and graduated in May 2017.
When and where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad through UMD in Perth, Australia at Curtin University during Spring Semester 2016.
What was your most memorable experience abroad?
My most memorable experience was definitely diving the Great Barrier Reef. It was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience to explore one of the natural wonders of the world.
What was the funniest thing that happened to you abroad?
One day when I was trying to navigate through the city transportation by myself I got on the wrong bus and ended up an hour in the wrong direction outside the city. But the train stopped close to a cute little beach area so I sat down in the sand and enjoyed a book until the next train came by to take me home.
What did you do for fun in your free time abroad?
In my free time I did a lot of extra traveling around Australia and to surrounding countries. I also spent time relaxing at the beach, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, reading, and going out with friends.
Did you travel while abroad? If yes, where?
How much did you budget?
For my entire study abroad experience I used a combination of financial aid as well as about an extra 10K for non-program expenses (travel, flights, transportation, food, etc). For individual trips I budgeted anywhere from 1,000-2,000 depending on where I was headed.
How much did you end up spending?
All of it!
Do you have tips or advice regarding budgeting and spending?
Budget more than you think you need, it's better to go over than to be exact.
What was traveling like? (Both within the city and outside of it?)
Very laid back and relaxed - I loved how easy it was to travel everywhere
What did you pack but ended up not needing?
I think I used everything I packed.
What did you need but didn’t pack?
More sweatshirts - it got colder than I thought.
What was the food like?
Similar to the US for the most part but they also had a lot more diversity in restaurants. There were definitely some odd foods like kangaroo burgers and vegemite (a thick, black food spread made from leftover brewers' yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives).
Did you find things that you liked?
Despite how weird I thought it was, I did really like kangaroo burgers. I loved Tim Tams and Indonesian noodles as well. Nando's was probably my favorite restaurant where they served South African Peri-peri chicken.
What foods did you miss from home?
Hot wings, there weren't nearly enough buffalo wing restaurants.
How did the locals dress?
Generally people were much more dressed up for school. It was weird to wear sweatpants or athletic wear to class - people would wonder why you are in PJs or workout clothes.
How did you get the foreign currency?
I exchanged my currency in the airport.
What did you miss from home that you never thought you’d miss?
Not much honestly, primarily I missed my family and a few of my friends.
What was one thing you thought might be a big deal while being away, that wasn’t so much of a big deal when you were actually living there?
I thought I would be a lot lonelier than I was, in fact I made some incredible friends while I was there which made being so far away from home not so scary.
What advice would you give on how to adjust to living in a new culture?
Have an open mind.
Would you recommend studying abroad to another student? If so, why?
Absolutely, studying abroad provides an experience you really can't get any other way. You are able to broaden your own horizons and experience new perspectives and cultures all while furthering your education and career aspirations.
Chantelle is currently doing research and participating in the University of Minnesota SPAN program (Student Project for Amity among Nations) in Morocco. This program is led by UMD Faculty Ryan Goei, Ph.D., and Dana Lindaman, Ph.D.