My name is Michaela, and I studied abroad this semester at the University of the Sunshine Coast. I am originally from the East Coast of the United States, and had never left the continent before coming here. I was nervous, excited, and totally in awe at this opportunity. Reflecting back, having the chance to explore has been the most amazing aspect of this experience.
Hiking through the Sunshine Coast introduced me to familiar yet foreign plants and animals. I was also able to travel down the coast, visiting Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Brisbane and the Gold Coast were a lot of fun, but have more city vibes than I am usually after. Byron Bay was more my style as it is a funky little town right by the ocean. While I was there I went skydiving for the first time, and it took my breath away—literally. I fell so in love with the thrill that I went again just a week later when my mom came to visit! After my second time I’m certain that I want to get certified to go on my own and maybe even become an instructor someday.
Toward the end of the semester I had more time to go on some longer trips. I spent a long weekend in Sydney and stayed with some family friends at Bondi Beach. Bondi is beautiful and has a more relaxed feel from the city itself. I was lucky enough to visit during Vivid, the annual light show, which puts on different displays and programs throughout the city. Sydney felt much bigger and busier than Brisbane, but also held a lot of history. From the Opera House to the Maritime Museum I got a sense that the city had a big influence on the formation of Australia as we know it today.
The biggest adventure of all was when I recently went to Bali. This felt significant for me because I haven’t done much traveling, and would no longer be in an English speaking country. I was a bit concerned about how I would navigate an even more foreign place than the one I had already been living in, but it ended up being no problem at all. At first the exchange rate and the high price tags were hard to wrap my mind around, but with technology it’s easy to figure out how much everything will cost. I ride a motor scooter back home, and realised that this was a big thing in Bali as well. They drive somewhat on the left side of the road, however the traffic laws are very lenient. It’s pretty much every vehicle for themselves, and if a scooter can get in between car, down a small ally, or around traffic by driving on the right side, then that’s what will happen. I fell in love with the erratic but functional nature of this place. We tried to eat in lots of local family owned restaurants and everything I tried was delicious.
I would definitely recommend travelling and going as far out of your comfort zone as possible while you’re here. These felt like once in a lifetime opportunities and have encouraged me to prioritise more travelling in my future!
Codi Johns, Spring 2015,
I had always wanted to study abroad and growing up in the Minnesota, North Dakota area really drove me to choose a warm, sunny country to study in. When I first arrived at the Sunshine Coast I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to think. Thankfully, everybody in the International Office and throughout the University were very helpful and welcoming. Not only them, but all of the Australian and other international students as well.
USC is a well-known school for international students which gave me the opportunity to connect and build friendships with many students of other nationalities. I made many lifelong friends and memories I will never forget while studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Studying abroad really helped to expand my comfort zone, educate me in multiple ways and change the way I view the world. I am very thankful I had the opportunity to study abroad and even more thankful I got to spend an amazing semester traveling and exploring Australia and getting a great education at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Choosing to study abroad in Australia was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I knew even before going to college that I wanted to visit Australia, and the program here at USC has been absolutely perfect. At home in America I live up north where it is very chilly and we have completely opposite seasons, so coming to a place where I could spend any day on the beach sounded like a dream come true.
Right away I was thrown into a different lifestyle than I’m used to when I learned that two of my roommates would be boys! The opportunity to live with people from all around the world is something I would have never expected here, but turned out to be such a great way to meet different types of people.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel a bunch around Australia. I’ve done weekend trips to Brisbane, Sydney and the Gold Coast, as well as a week in the Whitsundays and I just returned from a week traveling through the outback from Ayers Rock to Darwin. Who knew I would get to travel to so many unique and different places here! I have found in traveling that everyone here in Australia is so friendly, but especially everyone I have met at USC. People in nearby apartments always say “hey” as they walk by or wave in the gym and on campus. My teachers are friendly and approachable, which I didn’t expect from my first time ever being in a lecture-style class of 300 plus people.
While I do miss my friends and family back home, and I am excited to see them in a few weeks, overpowering all those emotions is the sadness I have that I am leaving this gorgeous place! I’m really going to miss the days on the beach tanning and having ice cream, and the hundreds of opportunities I’ve had to take selfies with kangaroos! This country has gone well above my expectations, the University of the Sunshine Coast couldn’t have been more welcoming, and I am extremely grateful and lucky that I had the chance to make some of the best memories of my life here in Australia!