The following is an interview with Catie Stroup, from Bedford Pa., who studied abroad in Australia for the fall semester 2009.
Where and for how long did you study abroad?
New Castle, Australia for about 5 months.
How did you decide on a destination?
Originally, I was elementary education, and I was deciding between studying in Greece, England, or Australia. Jarmilla Polte (the study abroad advisor at the time) told me not to go to Greece – that England was perfect for education, but if I wanted, I could go to Australia for education too. So maybe in spite of her advice or maybe just because of the ocean, I decided upon the land down under, if you will.
What was the environment and culture like?
The environment was nice, and the weather was really great for the most part. I arrived in early July – basically in the dead of winter – but by early September, we were spending afternoons and weekends sun bathing on the beach. The culture wasn’t what I expected. I expected something like you see in the movies, real laid back, surfers everywhere, billabong-esque clothes. Maybe what I would assume Hawaii would be like. But what I came to find was a more urban area, immersed in high fashion that is up on the times in general. Hipster-like kids. Though, I do have to admit, I enjoyed seeing guys dress nicely, not just in sweat pants, or jeans and tennis shoes for “looking nice.”
What was your favorite experience you had while there?
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef! – Or seeing octopus ink on Fraser Island, or almost being attacked by dingos.
What was the most profound thing you learned?
To live in the present and not in the past, because before you know it, you’re present will become your past.
Do you have any advice for those considering a trip abroad?
Do some research before you go, bring as much money as you can, and enjoy every second of it. If you’re still up in the air of whether or not you should take the opportunity, don’t keep thinking about it – go for it. It really is, as cliché as it is to say it, “an experience of a lifetime.”
-Samantha Stroup ’12, Juniata Online Journalist