Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Mattei

Stephanie Mattei studied abroad in Brisbane, Australia February through June 2013. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio and is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh. While in Australia she was enrolled at the University of Queensland. Stephanie is a Rehabilitation Science major and plans to attend physical therapy school after graduation.

Why did you decide to study abroad with Education Abroad?

Meet Stephanie

Stephanie: When I first decided to go abroad, I went to Pitt’s study abroad office to learn about different opportunities. I knew I wanted to go to Australia and the advisors recommended The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) because they have lots of programs throughout Australia and I would also be able to take health science classes for my major. It was great working with TEAN because they helped me with enrollment at the University of Queensland, arranged housing, assisted with visa processing, and much more. I was not sure how to go about planning everything necessary to go abroad so I was reassured knowing that TEAN would help me make sure everything was in order. I also felt much more comfortable knowing that I would have TEAN contact people in Australia who could help me with any problems or concerns throughout the semester.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home

Stephanie: Living and studying in Australia for five months was an amazing experience and I was able to do and learn things that I never would have been able to do during a semester in the United States. My favorite part was making friends with students from around the world. Between classes and extracurricular activities, I met so many people. I made great friends in the Beach Volleyball Club and study abroad/exchange student organization as well as my Biomechanics practicals. I loved getting to know them and learn about what life is like in other countries. It was great traveling with all these different people and exploring the city together. At school in the U.S. I would never have been able to meet so many diverse people and be exposed to other cultures. As a result of this experience I am more culturally aware and excited to continue traveling and exploring new places.

Stephanie paints a boomerang

What did Education Abroad do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Stephanie: The Education Abroad Network helped me a great deal with planning my study abroad experience. The best thing they assisted with was housing. I did not have to search for apartments or worry about where I would stay during the semester—they did it all for me. Once I arrived in Australia TEAN people met me and the other TEAN students with whom I would be living at the airport and took us to our apartment, which was furnished and very nice. TEAN also worked with my Australian university to process my enrollment, although I registered for classes online on my own. I applied for my visa, which was very easy and I received it within 24 hours. TEAN provided me with information from my Australian university that was necessary to process the paperwork then I did the rest. In addition, TEAN provided free cultural events throughout the semester and organized several excursions from which we could choose. I went on the TEAN trip to New Zealand for mid-semester break and had a fantastic time!

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

Stephanie: My favorite foods that I tried abroad are TimTams and ANZAC biscuits. TimTams are chocolatey goodness—it is two chocolate wafer cookies with a chocolate filling then coated with more chocolate. And there are tons of different flavor varieties! TimTams are great dipped in milk as well and are also popular in Europe. ANZAC biscuits are just as delicious but are not made with chocolate. These biscuits became popular during WWII and were sent to the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in combat. ANZAC biscuits are a crunchy oatmeal and coconut cookie and are delicious dipped in tea. Apart from desserts, I enjoyed eating kangaroo! Australians are encouraged to eat kangaroo because it is lean and healthy and there is an overpopulation of kangaroos throughout the country. It is best cooked medium and tastes similar to steak. You can even buy kangaroo meat in the grocery store!