Arts & Life

Column: More than just a semester abroad

Wollongong is a beautiful city.

Stretching along the East coast of Australia, just south of Sydney, it has amazing beaches, nightlife, café culture and a thriving local art and music scene. I go to school at Wollongong University and am in my third year studying marketing. I am currently studying one semester here at Long Beach State.

One of the reasons why I came to LBSU for my study abroad experience was that students from all over America come to Wollongong to study and without fail, they say it’s the best decision they have ever made. Hearing this, I knew that I had to study abroad too. I am halfway through my semester abroad at LBSU, and I can say that it’s the best decision I have ever made, too.

Studying abroad is more than just studying in another country. It is an opportunity to travel the world and meet new and incredible people. On my way to LBSU, I took the opportunity to do some travel of my own on the way and spent three weeks in Europe.

In this time, I visited eight countries including England, France, Italy, Germany and Holland. This is something I only did as a direct result  of being involved in study abroad.

I also have plans to visit Canada and Mexico and have already travelled through much of California.

This shows that you can make the most of your study abroad experience. It’s not only about school, but about doing as much extra traveling as you can to see the world.

From visiting different countries and much of California, I have learned so much. Traveling doesn’t just enrich you personally, it teaches you. In Europe, I learned about world history, politics and technology. I gained new knowledge about Queen Margarita who the margarita pizza was named after.

I learned how the French protect their language by making English words like hashtag illegal.

I have been able to gain so much knowledge about Canada simply by meeting Canadians and talking to them in my travels.

As for my time in America, I have learned about social and political issues, such as gun control, migration issues and how events of the past are affecting people today. In many ways I can see similarities between American and Australian issues, one of the main differences being how Americans talk about these issues much more openly.

The crazy thing about everything I have learned is that none of it was learned in a classroom. I got this understanding of the American culture by exploring, talking to new people and by living in it. There isn’t an exam to make sure I remember and apply this knowledge, but I know the things I have learned are invaluable.

As travel writer Arthur Frommer once said, “At its best, travel should challenge our preconceptions and most cherished views, cause us to rethink our assumptions, shake us a bit, make us broader minded and more understanding.”

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