I believe that every single thing happens for a reason and for me, studying abroad was just what I needed in the chapter of life that I am currently in. This experience not only changed my life, but also helped fuel my passion for traveling and setting more defined career goals. This experience was amazing, and although it got cut very short due to Covid-19, I can’t help but reflect and be appreciative for the moments that I did get to experience during my time in Australia.
I had been wanting to study abroad for a while, ever since I was in high school. I had made it a dream of mine that I was determined to fulfill during my college years and would do whatever I needed to be able to make it happen. My journey getting to Australia was not simple though. I had to find a university that offered classes to study abroad students that would also count for my major, but thanks to the Study Abroad department at UTC and specifically Laura Livermore, who did everything in her power to turn this dream into a reality, this process became much smoother than I originally anticipated. I worked many long hours and had multiple jobs to be able to save up to get there, which was a sacrifice for the time being, but overall 100% worth it. I remember all the thoughts swirling through my head when I got on the last leg of my flight, which was a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles to Australia, and thinking how excited I was that I was finally making my dreams into a reality, and how proud I felt for the self-discipline that I had to get myself there. Going to a new country can be scary but is also so rewarding and a huge step out of my comfort zone that I was so willing to take.
Although I was supposed to study in Australia for the entire Spring 2020 semester, I ended up only having 6 weeks there. It was heartbreaking when I found out that my 5-month adventure got cut so short, but it allowed me to reflect on the incredible opportunities that I had experienced and immersing myself into a new cultural perspective. I met so many people from all over the world in the time that I was there which allowed me to appreciate other cultures and sparked my interest for further global travel. It also taught me how to get through culture shock and adapt to my new home. Learning public transportation routes (I did get lost a couple of times), crossing the street on the opposite side of the road, and navigating a big city was intimidating at first, but quickly became skills that I easily adapted to.
I went to school in Melbourne, Australia at La Trobe University. Although I only attended classes for two weeks, I quickly learned the differences between the Aussie school system and American school. For example, most learning is independent, and tutorials/lectures are a brief recap of what I was expected to read on my own prior to coming to class. This allows for a lot more free time to travel and have time to myself, but also is important in learning time-management and being intentional in focusing on schoolwork, which is something I had to adapt to quickly in order to make the most out of my time.
I chose to arrive in Australia a week before my program started, which allowed me to get acclimated to my surroundings and do some independent exploring before we started orientation and moved into our apartments. There is so much power in doing some independent travel; having the opportunity to discover things on your own creates a lot of growth and personal exploration which is so rewarding. I believe that everyone should have a chance to go across the world all alone and find themselves; you’ll never anticipate the amazing things that can happen or the growth that comes as a result.
Some of my favorite memories that I had when I was in Australia were scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, taking a day trip to the Great Ocean Road, appreciating the daily wake-up calls by the kookaburras that lived in the trees outside my windows, skydiving over the Yarra Valley, and enjoying many fish and chip meals along Australia’s stunning beaches with some new friends that I made from Germany, Hong Kong, and France. I look back on this trip and am so thankful for everything that I was able to experience, for the people I met that have turned into lifelong friends, and the incredible moments that I was able to mentally hold onto forever. While this isn’t the end of my abroad experience, I was able to get a glimpse into another side of the world which allows me to say that it is just a “pause” in my adventure chapter of life. My passion for traveling overseas has allowed me to refine my career path in incorporating overseas travel, and I think about the love I have for this place every single day. Australia has a special place in my heart, and I am truly so appreciative for the time that I had there, the friends that I made and the places that I went, and this incredible experience that I will never forget.
Sierra Davis is majoring in Exercise Science and spent part of Spring 2020 studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia through CIS abroad. Sierra had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying abroad taught me how to maximize every moment and be truly present in every situation that I was in. You never know what life is going to throw at you, so take time to truly appreciate the little things and focus on the positive things in every situation.”
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