My experience so far studying abroad through the Study Overseas program has been indescribable, but I will try to paint a picture. After a 36-hour journey, I arrived at Buffalo international airport around 9pm, my fatigue slowly turning back into a bubbling excitement. I had finally made my dreams come true, I was now in America! I waited in line to collect my bags, and waited, and waited, and then I realised I was the last one standing around the luggage collection. My bags had not been put on the plane from my previous connecting flight. This is a perfect example of the student travel experience; something is nearly always bound to go wrong or will be out of your control. But I am grateful for incidents like this, travelling across the world alone has given me so much more experience, interesting stories to tell friends, and has made me a more generally confident and independent person.
It was snowing outside the airport, and I had never seen proper snow before. I took one step outside and then quickly ran back in. Another thing you cannot prepare for; winter in Buffalo. Absolutely freezing! Think negative 20 degrees Celsius freezing! The cold doesn’t stop you from wanting to dive head first into a pile of fresh clean snow though. Once my taxi arrived, I was finally safe and sound in my motel room for my first night in Buffalo, without any pyjamas, toiletries or winter clothing which were in my lost luggage!
The next morning, I was greeted by Katrina and Mary from the State University of New York (SUNY Fredonia) International students office, and they were so welcoming and friendly, and reassured me my bags would be delivered to the university for me. With such a warm greeting I felt instantly cared for and almost ‘at home’. I was introduced to other international students from Korea, Brazil and Russia, and am now really good friends with the Russian exchange student, Maria. The SUNY Fredonia Global Student Ambassadors were so helpful and friendly during my first week at college; I’ve stayed friends with all of them as well.
I’m now halfway through my semester of studying Journalism at SUNY Fredonia, and once you get past the cold and snow, it really is an amazing university with so many student-orientated activities and groups to be a part of. The culture here is certainly different from the Sunshine Coast, but it’s exciting to experience something completely new. Everyone has been so interested to hear about Australia and the major culture differences, especially my teachers! If you would like to read more about my experiences studying abroad, and helpful travel tips, please visit my blog: http://thewanderingwombat.wordpress.com.
And for those of you wondering, yes, my bags did eventually turn up!