Coming into studying abroad I was nervous, but mostly excited. I’ve been wanting to travel to Australia since I was a kid and I finally got my chance. Looking back on all my experiences, I wouldn’t have wanted to study anywhere else besides the Sunshine Coast. I really fit into and enjoy the lifestyle which is very laidback, friendly, and the beach and being outside is a large part of the community here. In the Sunshine Coast there is a large sense of community with local businesses, markets, and festivals which I was happy to participate in. This really helped allowed me to feel like another valued, included member of the community. I could easily call the Sunshine Coast my home for the short four and a half months I got to live here.
I also was able to easily adjust into uni life here at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The campus is teeming with diversity due to its mix of international students and Australian students. You definitely get to learn about different cultures from Europe to Asia, as well as Australia, and get to meet people from all walks of life which is something I don’t get to experience too much back home. My teachers were extremely helpful and available to their students due to the small class sizes which was a welcome change from my university back home. Everyone in my classes were friendly and were just as excited to meet an American as I was to meet Australians. One of the biggest culture shocks was learning that I was the one with an accent.
One of my biggest concerns coming here was wondering if I was going to be able to make friends. After one day of living at Varsity Apartments, I no longer had this concern. Everyone at Varsity is friendly and willing to make friends, and everyone here just wants to have a good time. When random people you don’t know walk up to you and just start having a conversation with you, you know that there won’t be a lack of friends here. Those people usually end up becoming some of your closest friends. Varsity is its own little community within the large community of the Sunshine Coast and is just as diverse as the USC campus. With the pool, volleyball competitions, and the parties you feel like you’re living in a low-budget country club for uni students, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I think that studying abroad is one of the best ways to really see and experience Australia. Being here for an extended period of time made it easy to travel and see so much of such a beautiful country. I was able to travel from Cairns all the way to down to Sydney. I got to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, walk up the steps of the Sydney Opera House, lay out on the most gorgeous beaches in the world, and go on breathtaking hikes along the coast, up mountains and the through the rainforests. Studying abroad was the most positive experience of my life thus far, and if someone asked me if I would do it all over again, I would say yes in a heartbeat.