Imagine waking up to the sound of a kookaburra bird on your windowsill; you stretch and wonder whether today you are going to head to an Australian Rules football game or go on a mini road trip to Sydney with your mate. The possibilities are endless, and these are the types of decisions you just don’t mind making. This was my life for five months, all because of my decision to study abroad. It could be yours too; LIU Post students can create memories basically anywhere they can imagine. According to Study Abroad Director Patricia Seaman, “Our students have the unique opportunity to study in London, Turkey, Thailand, India, People’s Republic of China, Costa Rica, Australia or Taiwan through our affiliated programs and LIU Global.” I have been home for a little less than three months and every single day since then has still been shaped by my amazing experience abroad.
It was this time last year, as a junior, that I looked into the process of going abroad. I attended the study abroad fair in Hillwood Commons, met with the study abroad advisor and eventually found myself traveling 23 hours to my home away from home — Melbourne, Australia. Thanks to Patricia Seaman, my dream became a reality. Seaman and her staff help guide you in the right direction in choosing the school and city perfect for you, and that’s just the beginning.
Although it is no lie that studying abroad can put a small dent into your wallet, there are many financial aid opportunities for students to take advantage of. Many schools abroad offer scholarships, and if you study with a school that affiliates with Post you may even be entitled to the same scholarship that you receive here. If it comes down to it, even taking out a loan is worth the experience. Seeing Seaman would be a great step in finding out even more information about the financial aspect of going abroad. From loans, applications, visas and much more, the study abroad office is there to help you throughout the whole process.
I’m not the only one who feels that way either. Senior Public Relations major Brittany Scelza, agrees “Patricia Murdock [Seaman] and her staff were EXTREMELY helpful, they led me in the right direction as soon as I had let them know I was interested and took me step by step until I was nearly on the plane!” Once you get to your destination, you will have someone to turn to in the case of any problems as well. As I got settled in Australia, I met friends who truly became my soulmates and traveled to such beautiful places that I had to ask myself “Is this real life?” multiple times…and I mean multiple. So, start now!
You don’t exactly have to go 10,000 miles away from home to experience life abroad. For some students, going to Europe can be a dream come true. Scelza, took on Europe for a semester just last semester. “Apart from seeing some of the most beautiful places there are to offer, I really feel like it was such a life changing experience. I traveled, met some amazing people and saw the most breath-taking places with hardly anything but a backpack on my shoulders,” Scelza said. Now, that’s living.
For me, Australia was a place that was almost a bit of a “fantasy world” for so long. It’s so far that you barely ever meet any Australians here in America and most American families don’t just go on vacation to Sydney. But the few people that you ever do come across who are either Australian or have been there, will leave some kind of an impact on you. The native Australians are so different from most of the Americans I know. Being laid back, funny and easy going is just something that comes naturally to them. It really is the land of ‘no worries’.
I went out on a limb when I decided to spend a semester at La Trobe University in Melbourne, without knowing a single person there before I arrived. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing a study abroad program any other way. I believe that if I had gone with a friend I wouldn’t have had to go out of my way to talk to people and join organizations that interested me just to get to know people. When you go to a place like Australia, making friends really isn’t much of a challenge though.
There are just no words in the English language that are perfect enough to describe the amazing and life changing experience one gets abroad. You participate in activities that may seem so out of the norm to you, but to others are a way of life. (Like having a professor reward the class for a good week of work with drinks at the campus bar, his shout (which means he’s paying, thanks Steinar!)) Classes are sometimes a struggle, but once you find your happy medium even those can be rewarding too. For example, I wasn’t crazy about the amount of group work Australian students were expected to do, but once I accepted it, I was able to meet some really great people in the process.
When you come from another country, people want to know you. They want to know what you’re about and what it’s like where you come from, just as much as you want to know about them. I was lucky enough to be able to work as an editor with an Australian magazine for emerging journalists, which proposed some of the most difficult situations I’ve ever had to deal with, but the experience is one I will never forget. A daily deadline is stressful enough, now mix in Australian English (I almost wrote travelling instead of traveling in this article itself because it’s so imprinted in my head) and an Australian social life and you have the recipe for one hour of sleep a night. But, I wouldn’t change my experience for the world. In fact, I’m looking to go back to the land down under and get an internship after graduation.
Not only was I exposed to Australians and their lifestyle, I also met amazing people from states in America that I can’t wait to visit. Texas, Chicago and California just to name a few. When you are exploring a new city and going on vacations to Thailand (our spring break spot!) with people that you’ve known for a very short amount of time, you can’t help but get to know some amazing people, and get to know yourself better than you thought possible. I now know that I am petrified of heights, for example. After I spent a whole day trying to comfort a friend about doing a ‘tree-top adventure’ in Thailand, I didn’t think about my own phobia. Needless to say I got 500 feet in the air and cried for the next hour as I was zip-lining, tight rope walking and climbing an obstacle course where, trust me, if you fell, no one was coming to save you.
Kangaroos, koalas and the great barrier reef are all breathtaking things to experience, but the fun doesn’t have to be limited to Australia. Scelza wouldn’t trade her European adventure for the world. “I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. I traveled to Rome, Venice, Pisa, Napoli and dozens of islands, I went sky diving over the Swiss Alps, dancing in Barcelona and shopping in France!” And you thought what you did last weekend was cool?
Many students might be hesitant to study abroad; it can be stressful to know you are leaving your loved ones behind for so long. Life as you know it will be turned upside down, but once you come back — they will all still be there, and that is what students need to remember. Scelza is a great inspiration for those of you who don’t want to damage a relationship. She left for the semester even though she is in a serious relationship with her boyfriend, and in the end she says, “it undoubtedly made our relationship stronger!”
If you’re bored of your life or just looking for something fun and adventurous to do while earning school credit, then studying abroad is probably perfect for you. The deadline to study abroad next semester is October 15, so start planning now. “All students in good standing, with the approval of their departmental chair and the LIU Post Campus Director of Study Abroad, are eligible for study abroad after one full-time semester at Post,” says Seaman.
If being away for a semester doesn’t sound like something that you want to do, remember that Post offers many winter and summer sessions abroad as well. Don’t hesitate to go see Seaman at the study abroad office, in the Winnick House, Room 221, and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to the best adventure of your life!