The time has now come and gone in the blink of an eye. For what felt like forever, I was dreaming of my study abroad here in Australia. It seems like just yesterday I was in PA packing my bags for my big adventure. Here I am now, packing up my room at UniCentral to wrap up my five month Aussie experience. To be honest, I was nervous, scared, but most of all EXCITED for what this upcoming semester abroad at the University of the Sunshine Coast was going to hold.
My name is Karina Russell and I am a Senior at Millersville University of Pennsylvania dual majoring in Early Childhood and Special Education. Some may ask why I decided to study abroad in Australia, but the real question is “why not”? There are kangaroos, koalas, beaches, and sunshine almost everywhere you look. These past five months have been nothing more than breathtaking, stretching, and memorable for me. I left my family, my fiancé, my dog and everything I knew and flew 22 hours to the other side of the world just to have this study abroad experience. It was so worth it. There is not one thing I would have done differently.
As I sit here in my dorm and I am starting to pack up all my belongings, I think back to some of my favourite memories I have made in these last five months. During my time here not only have I had the opportunity to adventure around Australia, but I also had the opportunity to visit Queenstown, New Zealand and Bali, Indonesia over my semester breaks. Traveling within Australia is super convenient. You can easily jump on a bus, train, or plane and go somewhere for a weekend or even a day trip. Some of my weekend trips within Australia consisted of Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Uluru, Melbourne and Fraser Island. Some of my favorite day trips were visiting the Sunshine Plaza, SeaLife, visiting Alexandra Headlands, going to Mooloolaba Beach, and my absolute favourite was visiting the Steve Irwin Australia Zoo.
Looking back on my experiences, I did things that I never would have thought of before leaving the states. To name a few of my favourites, I had the opportunity to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, take surfing lessons in Byron Bay, ride a camel into sunset in Uluru, see penguins in Melbourne, learn to stand up paddle board in New Zealand, take a mud bath with elephants in Bali, snorkel with sea turtles in Gili T, and even go to the Australia Zoo fifteen times! As you can see, I liked to keep myself busy with adventure.
My time in Australia was absolutely amazing! Not only did I make unforgettable memories, but I also made many life long friendships. If you are considering studying abroad, whether it is to USC of not, my best advice is to follow your dreams. If studying abroad is something you have been dreaming of then don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. I promise, you will not regret it! Save up beforehand, plan ahead, get involved, and enjoy your adventure!