I chose this program first and foremost because it has always been my dream to study abroad in Australia. I love the outdoors, animals, and nature, so I wanted a program that provided lots of opportunities for that. I also did not want to go to a program where anyone from Vanderbilt was also going, so I chose a less common program (there are SO many people who go to Sydney). Finally, having grown up outside of New York City, I did not want to be living in a huge city like Sydney! Perth looked like it was a perfect size, and I learned we would be living in a little suburb right on campus, which was absolutely perfect for me.
Megan is a current senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, studying Mathematics, Secondary Education, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She plays soccer on the club team, is a tour guide, and loves hiking / exploring / backpacking with her friends in her free time!
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My university helped me with application questions/deadlines, scholarships, etc., but a lot of it I figured out on my own! I did have to submit my classes for approval to my school, but on my own, I researched different classes and options.
My university provided a rough outline of expected costs for the semester so that my family could have an idea of it, but I created my own breakdown as well. Between my university, CIEE (my program provider), and the advisor from Murdoch University, the process was extremely easy!!!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would highly recommend choosing a program that is not with all of your best friends. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, and look for a program/country that YOU want, regardless of where your friends are going. My program was the best because none of us came into it knowing anyone else, so we very quickly became best friends. They also all shared my love of the outdoors (which was very obvious in the fact that we all chose a less-common program), so we made the most amazing memories.
I would recommend deciding whether you want a program that is more outdoorsy/exploratory, or whether you want something that is more city-oriented!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I specifically chose to have full days of classes on Tuesday-Thursday, freeing myself up for 4 day weekends every weekend! I spent a lot of time going to the beach with my friends because we loved to snorkel and explore. We would typically cook our own food at our houses and eat together, or we would explore Fremantle (this ADORABLE town) to find restaurants/bars. I spent almost every weekend traveling, whether it be renting a camper van and driving up or down the coast of Western Australia, flying across the country to eastern Australia / New Zealand (Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania), or flying to Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore).
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was slightly nervous about making meaningful friendships, because I have such wonderful friends at my home university, but I wanted to meet all the new people so I was also very excited!!
I was hoping that the others in my program would also want to branch out and form new, very intentional friendships -- and wow was I right!!! I made the most amazing friends, who shared a lot of the same values/passions as me, but who also had such wonderful differing opinions I could learn from.
I soon realized that Perth was a program where students didn't typically travel with a friend group, so everyone was looking for new friendships just as I was!
What is the best way to see/do the most for the cheapest?
I would highly recommend saving money when it comes to food, alcohol, and "lavish" living. I was able to stretch my savings and travel SO much because I rarely spent money on things that weren't travel!!
Whenever my friends and I traveled, we either rented a camper van to sleep in, or we rented airbnb's and fit as many of us in it as were allowed! On one trip, my friends and I even slept in our car, because it was such a great price!! We never stayed in hotels / any expensive places, but we were also able to stay at SUPER fancy places in countries like Indonesia and Thailand.
While we were traveling and at home, I always grocery-shopped, with occasionally treating myself to a dinner out! I also NEVER bought alcohol at clubs/bars. If I wanted a nice drink with dinner I would get one, but it is SO expensive to buy drinks out. It is worth it to just buy bulk food/alcohol, so that you can spend all of your money on traveling!!!!