As a fourth year college student studying Organizational Communication and Psychology, I had never left the United States. I had never flown on a plane and I was about to fly across the world by myself. I was equally nervous and excited. I didn’t do pre-trip research on the country like I was supposed to. I waited till the last few weeks to buy a plane ticket and apply for my visa, but when the time came to board a plane I was ready. Arriving in sunny Brisbane, I was jetlagged and hungry.
The first few days in Lismore were a whirlwind of activity, getting ready for classes at Southern Cross University and going on one of many trips to Byron Bay. The education system is quite different than in the United States, but the professors are understanding and accommodating. I loved learning about the Australian culture in my classes and in turn hearing about the United States through an Australian perspective.
My favorite part about studying abroad was being able to travel around the country and meet so many new people from other countries. Everyone I met was incredibly nice and I’ve been able to make some great friendships through this experience. Of course I didn’t get to see everything in Australia I wanted to, but the places I was able to travel to were amazing. My top three favorite places to visit were Sydney, Whitsundays, and Byron Bay. The whole experience was a trip of a lifetime. I can now say I’ve walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, swam in the waters off Whitehaven beach, and kayaked with dolphins in Byron Bay.
Christa Pachniak, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Fall 2016 Study Abroad Student