Alumni Spotlight: Isabel Hansen

Isabel is currently a senior at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. She studied abroad during the spring semester of her junior year, and has a huge passion for travel!

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose to go through AIFS for a couple of reasons. I talked to a lot of people at my college who had previously studied abroad, and they all went through/recommended AIFS to me. After doing some research, I also realized that AIFS offered one of the best all-inclusive deals for studying abroad in Australia compared to other programs.

Once I realized I definitely wanted to study abroad in Australia, AIFS was also a great option because they offered two locations in Australia to study abroad in (on opposite coasts). It was a tough decision because both coasts sounded amazing, but I ultimately chose AIFS's Perth Program at Murdoch University, and I couldn't have been happier with my decision.

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

As I have previously mentioned, one of the reasons why AIFS is so amazing is that they offer an all-inclusive package. My package for Perth included the cost of my tuition, housing, meal allowance, allowance for public transportation, health insurance, and even additional excursions/trips around Perth. While I chose not to do this, AIFS also offers the opportunity to go to Fiji for a week before coming to Perth, and optional add-on flight packages to/from the US as well.

Since AIFS takes care of so much, I only had to pay for a few minor things myself such as wifi connection, laundry, and personal items for housing such as bedding, kitchen equipment, etc. AIFS, however, took care of everything else housing-related. This was great because I didn't have to worry about registering myself for housing, or remember to pay rent every two weeks like some of my other friends who lived in the Village had to!

I also had to register for my classes in Australia myself, but the process was very simple. And while AIFS hosted some little trips around Perth, all other traveling was organized by myself, or through Murdoch University's international program.

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

I would say to make sure you take advantage of as many opportunities as possible! See and do as much as you can, and make the most out of your time abroad. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and try some new things.

Definitely take advantage of all the outings AIFS plans for you because not only are they included in the cost, but they are also really fun! A couple of my favorite things I did with AIFS were the Fremantle Underground Prison Tunnel Tour and the All You Can Eat Brazilian BBQ lunch.

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

My days/weeks varied constantly, but I mainly had classes three days a week. What was nice about Murdoch, however, was that you could also watch some of your lectures online. I would therefore only have to go to school once or twice a week instead.

Each week, my friend and I also planned at least one fun activity to do such as going to the beach, paddle-boarding, or swimming with wild dolphins. I was also constantly in Fremantle (located about 20 minutes from Murdoch) at the indoor market on the weekends, trying new restaurants, or doing some shopping.

I was also in downtown Perth quite frequently because Perth has a great nightlife, and a lot of cool places to see. Lastly, I also did a decent amount of traveling abroad whether it be road trips on the weekend, flying to the opposite coast, or heading to Asia during a break. A lot of time was therefore spent planning for those trips, and of course actually going on these trips as well!

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 was that it would be hard to make friends. I was lucky, however, because my friend from high school studied abroad the same time/place as me, so I always had someone right from the start (but we wanted to make other friends too!).

One of the best decisions my friend and I made was to go on the 10-day Northwest trip offered by the international program at Murdoch. We got to meet other international students, and quickly found our group of friends who we hung out with every day after the trip ended.

Looking back, I overcame this fear by just taking advantage of as many activities, trips, and events that I could. Not only did they provide a fantastic opportunity to see/learn as much about Australia as possible, but they also allowed me to meet lots of new people in the process!

As mentioned earlier, going on those smaller AIFS trips were also a great way to make friends, as well as the events hosted by the Murdoch Village. It definitely wasn't hard to make friends once I took advantage of all these opportunities!

Do you have any packing tips/suggestions for students planning to study abroad in Perth, Australia?

Make sure to pack enough clothes for both cold and hot weather! I arrived in Perth in February when it was their summer, and left in June when it was their winter. I therefore experienced multiple seasons, and temperatures that ranged from 50-100 Degrees Fahrenheit. One of my biggest regrets was not packing more clothes for cooler weather such as light jackets, sweatshirts, boots, etc.

Another suggestion would be to pack some sheets if you have extra space in your suitcase! Depending on what time/day you arrive, there may not be any nearby stores open. You may also be extremely jet-lagged, and will want to go to bed instantly, so having sheets right in your suitcase can be very convenient.