Alumni Spotlight: Karina Hunstein

I'm currently involved in the 5-year Cooperative Education program at Stevens Institute of Technology. I am in the process of obtaining my B.E. in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Energy and Sustainability. After finishing my Undergraduate career, I aspire to obtain my Masters in Engineering Management.

Karina is a sophomore involved in the 5-year Cooperative Education Program at Stevens Institute of Technology. She is in the process of obtaining her B.E. in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Energy and Sustainability.

Why did you choose this program?

Sydney Australia

I chose this program for two main reasons. The first reason was due to the focus of the course: Energy and Sustainability. I knew I had an interest in the topic and hoped to find out if I would like to pursue a career relating to it. The second reason was that it provided me with the chance to explore Australia.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I went abroad with The Education Abroad Network (TEAN). They provided me sufficient information before the trip pertaining to the itinerary, preparedness, and assimilation. In addition, they suggested I book my flights through STA, which I did.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would tell them to research more about each city before getting there. One thing that I loved about my trip was the fact that it encompassed a lot of traveling. I saw a lot of Australia which I was thankful for.

However, I do wish I would have found more information about places to see and activities to do that were not in the itinerary. In short, it's easier to research before you leave rather than when you're already there.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An amazing thing about the Energy Tomorrow trip was exploring five different cities. Due to this, each day was different depending on where I was located.

It's very difficult to describe an "average" day while every day was extraordinary and provided me with a different kind of knowledge.

For instance, in Sydney, I would spend each day at a lecture at the University of New South Wales. Here is where I learned the most about renewable energy and technology. On the other hand, in Kakadu, I was able to learn more about the Aboriginals and Australian culture.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going into this trip was getting homesick. It's difficult to think that your family and friends are all the way on the other side of the world. I was anxious that something would happen and I wouldn't be able to contact them. I obviously got over this fear.

I realized that almost everyone was in the same position as me. Additionally, the program involved so many activities and trips that helped me to get close to the TEAN advisers and my peers. I couldn't even think of being homesick with so many incredible people and things around me. It's obvious that the best way to combat being homesick is by keeping busy.

What element of the trip did you benefit most from?

The biggest positive I got out of this trip was life-long friends. I have made connections that I will keep forever. I have also grown so much as an individual and feel the need to explore other countries and go abroad once more.