Marta Cholewa from Grand Valley State University in the US studying a Diploma in General Studies at USC Sunshine Coast

IMG_0108Hello! My name is Marta Cholewa and at USC I studied General Studies but at my home university, I major in Exercise Science. My home university is Grand Valley State University which is near Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I am originally from Palatine, Illinois which is close to Chicago. I have been wanting to study abroad ever since I heard all my sister’s study abroad experiences and travel stories.

The decision to study at USC was an easy one because I knew I always wanted to go to Australia and I did not have to stress about not knowing the language. Grand Valley State University helped me throughout my process as there was so many people to talk to if I had questions or concerns. I did a lot of the planning myself since I am a big planner, but I was able to get all my questions answered about my specific country and school by talking to a previous student who studied at USC. There were plenty of meetings to attend that gave advice about safety, adapting to culture, education, and travelling. My school definitely helped me feel prepared for my journey.

All the classes I took fulfilled my general education requirements, and it was really interesting to see how differently they teach subjects that I have taken in high school. The most fascinating class I took and the class I learned the most in was the History of Australia, which consisted of engaging discussions and it opened my eyes to a lot of the topics the country faced that I did not know about. The most creative class I took was Topics of Design. I am not the most artistic person, but that class allowed to get out of my comfort zone just enough to have fun with what I was doing. It was also an opportunity to learn about the popular designs, brands, and advertisements in Australia what may not be well-known in the states. The most thought-provoking class I took was An English Tradition. Not only is English difficult for me in general but trying to write a paper in ways that are very different than how I was taught to write is difficult. Nonetheless, I learned some new ideas and read some great material by new authors.

The most entertaining class I took was Coastal and Marine Ecology because my professor was an engaging individual who liked to crack jokes and tell us about his experiences. This class I took randomly because I thought it would interest me and I was right. Classes are much more hands-on and interpersonal than back at home. The professors genuinely try to get to know you and are very engaging in group work. The building itself made me feel like I was at an outdoor mall and the kangaroos hopping around are something I never got tired of seeing. I was also fortunate enough to travel before school and before quarantine and have seen very beautiful, memorable places. I was able to travel to the north of Australia near Cairns. My friend and I rented a car, which was a thrilling experience getting used to driving on the other side of the road and getting used to new rules, while we drove around the Atherton Tablelands and ended up at the Daintree Rainforest. I have seen stunning waterfalls, cute animals, and even had the chance to snorkel and scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef.

After school started, I was still able to visit the Steve Irwin Zoo and the Gold Coast where I tried surfing. If I had to pick a favourite spot, I would choose the Daintree Rainforest area because I loved the jungle feeling, after I got used to the giant spiders of course. The moment I will never forget is looking up at the stars on the beach because it was the most amazing thing I saw. I could see the whole milky way and it was because the rain forest area has very few lights and service in general, so I was able to live away from my phone. An amazing experience that was cut too short. I strongly recommend and urge everyone to take a trip to Australia because it is a beautiful country filled with amazing nature, people, food, culture, and animals. Hopefully I have the chance to go back one day.

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Brianna Tabit from Grand Valley State University in the US: 10 Things International Students Will Miss After Leaving USC!

G’day Mates! My name is Brianna Tabit and I am from Michigan in the United States. Through a partnership with my home university, Grand Valley State University, I was able to spend the last semester studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). As my time is coming to an end, I have come up with a list of 10 things that international students will miss once they have to say goodbye to the Sunny Coast.

10 things you will miss when you leave USC:

1. Taking photos of the kangaroos on campus The locals will quickly be able to spot international students on campus the minute there is a kangaroo hopping around. Within seconds, you’ll see people pulling out their phones to take photos of the roos for their social media and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Kangaroos
 2. Going to the beach on a school day The best part of the day is being able to go to the beach with your mates before or after class. Beach after uni
3. All of the beaches On that note, you will miss being able to have a variety of beaches to choose from on the Sunshine Coast. All of the Beaches
4. Having the locals make you try Aussie food While free food may be nice, make sure you do your research before you eat what you’re Australian friends give you. Do NOT let anyone feed you a spoonful of Vegemite – not my favourite..  Vegemite
5. Trying to mimic your Australian friends accents It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve asked your friends to repeat their sentences so you can try to accomplish their accent, I promise you it’s not easy. Australian Accent
6. Being surrounded by unique town names Have fun pronouncing these for the first time: Sippy Downs, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Buderim, Currimundi, Diddillibah Town Names
7. Telling people you’re going to the University of the Sunshine Coast Your friends and family may question the legitimacy of the university after you tell them the name of it. While you may spend most of your days laying on the beach in the sunshine, you can reassure them you still have plenty of assessments to work on once the sun goes down. Telling people you go to USC
8. Being so close to the Australia Zoo Being less than 30 minutes away from the Australia Zoo, is the best excuse to relive your childhood memories of watching the Crocodile Hunter. If you’re lucky, you may even get a chance to meet one of the Irwins. Australia Zoo
9. Magpies When most people think of Australia, they think of giant snakes and spiders. However, on the Sunshine Coast we only have to worry about a bird called the Magpie. Don’t let the name fool you though, these tiny birds are much more vicious than they look. While you may not miss the bird, you will miss seeing all of the unique anti-magpie-attack bicycle helmets. Magpie-season-in-Australia-the-fear-is-REAL-1024x667.jpg
10. Thinking twice before turning on the TV When you’re living on the Sunshine Coast, it is impossible to be bored. There are plenty of oceans to surf, cafes to try, mountains to climb, music festivals to go to, and barbeques to attend. Thinking Twice

– Brianna Tabit @sustainablesista

Cassidy Macmillan studying overseas at Grand Valley State University in the US

I left Australia searching for some sort of excitement to continue studying, which brought me to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Specifically to Grand Valley State University. Here I lived on campus with three amazing American roommates, making a heap of friends from around the world, and immersing myself into life as a college student.

The four months I spent at GVSU were wonderful, although not without challenges. The cold was one of the hardest to get through. I’d never been in snow before and suddenly I was having to walk to class through two feet of snow. In saying that, snow was my favourite part of the whole experience, it makes you feel like you’re in a Winter Wonderland.

But my tip for walking on ice is: don’t get cocky. Ice is a lot slipperier then you might assume and you will slip over and break your elbow (or get hurt badly) as one of the British exchange students found.

Throughout this time I was able to travel to Chicago, the Windy City, and up to Charlevoix in northern Michigan. I also spent Thanksgiving in Detroit, getting to see the third largest Thanksgiving parade in the country.

After university finished I stayed to travel more, going to Toronto and Montreal in Canada for Christmas where it got down to negative 20 degrees. New Years was spent in New York City, a night I will remember forever! Next was Washington DC, then Pittsburgh (the City of Bridges), Cincinnati, Nashville and the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and finally ending in New Orleans.

By far this experience has shaped my future, my career, and myself. It’s given me lifelong friends and a second home, making me a Laker For Life.

 

 

Stephanie in the USA

I was lucky enough to be accepted into Grand Valley State University. My time there will be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The campus and the people were beyond any of my expectations and I found myself a place that I consider my second home. This photo was taken at the Allendale campus where I lived.

This photo of me was taken by a friend upon arrival at Times Square in New York. This was my ‘a-ha’ moment, that moment when you finally realise that you’re on the other side of the world, in one of the most famous cities in the world and something you once only dreamed about was actually  happening, right then and there. Being part of the Go Program gave me so many opportunities to travel and experience all the things that make America great. My road trip from Grand Rapids, Michigan to NYC was unforgettable.

This shows some of the members of my GVSU family. While studying abroad you make connections with people that are so unbelievably strong and they become your family, your life, while you’re overseas. Sometimes those ties remain even when you return home. I met so many wonderful people who contributed greatly to my happiness and made the journey something that was beyond my expectations. Events like University football games and watching the Ice Hockey, with these newly found friends, were among some of the highlights of my trip.

-Stephanie Anderson