I chose this program for a number of reasons. Australia has always been number one on my list of places I'd love to visit, and actually being able to check that off was a huge factor. Wollongong is close enough to Sydney to get a feel for the city, but you're able to reel it back and experience a smaller, less hectic atmosphere as well. And, of course, UoW is excellent academically, so that played a large role.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My program provider assisted with a lot of the hard work, from helping me get my classes settled (because the system is so very different from home) to working to make the transition as easy as possible. Once on campus most of what I dealt with was organized by me, with the exception of program-related things, so it was a healthy balance of receiving help and doing it on my own.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would tell anyone going on this program, or any program, to make the most of it.
It's truly a beautiful place, and university, so make every minute count. Don't waste any of your time there, because you'll miss it the second you get back home!
Take every opportunity you can and put yourself out there, make friends, explore.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The day to day depends on the class schedule you have, but I'd say each week is a mix of getting your work done, going out with your new friends, heading into Sydney on a weekend, and going to one of the many stunning beaches you're offered. Some days/weeks will be slower or more busy than others, but there's definitely not a dull moment.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear going abroad, without a doubt, was being away from home for such an extended period of time. Before this I'd never spent longer than a month or so away, so to jump to five, especially all the way in a new country, was huge. I wouldn't say I overcame the homesickness, but rather I made such incredible friends straight away that I didn't have to worry about it becoming a problem. They made it feel like a second home, like I'd known them my whole life, and so it was easy to forget I was so far away.
Do you have a favorite story you'd like to share?
I was fortunate enough to experience a bunch of incredible things during my time abroad, but my favorite would have to be snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.
A few friends and I flew up to Cairns during the semester break (getting no sleep and taking a 5am flight has never been more worth it) to do one of the boat tours. The anticipation on the boat ride to first diving site is nothing like I've ever experienced, but in the best way.
Once we got out there, we were able to look out at the water, and you realize just how blue it is. I'm not sure I can even describe how amazing it is when you first get the hang of snorkeling and you see all of it right in front of you: the fish, the coral, the reef sharks, and if you're lucky, Nemo and some sea turtles, too.
There's nothing quite like the realization that you're in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by nothing but water and sea-life, and it's truly beautiful. If anyone has the opportunity to do so, I'd say to 100% take it!