Hi! My name is Francesca Iannacone, and I am a New Yorker who studies Psychology at Elon University in North Carolina. I am currently studying abroad at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC Sunshine Coast).
I want to share some helpful tips I have for anyone who is considering studying abroad at USC Sunshine Coast for a semester or longer;
- Be flexible in your normal routine: If you are studying abroad at USC or have never attended university before get ready to switch up your normal routine. The really cool part about studying in a new environment is all the new people and places you are exposed to. Mentally prepare for spending your time in new ways. Personally, I use journaling and exercise to give myself structured time to gear up for and reflect on the new ways my time and energy is being spent.
- Leave your phone at home: I recently dropped my phone in the water while I was untying a boat from a dock in Mooloolaba and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I fortunately had an insurance policy on the phone so I have been able to truly enjoy this past week without a phone. I did not fully realise how my phone removes me from the present moment until I let myself have a few days without it. If this intimidates you, remember that you are not alone in that feeling, but know that it could be just the thing you need to get the most out of your Australia experience while studying at USC. I have started emailing my family and friends when I need to reach them. I honestly may never go back to using my phone the way I used to (also known as scrolling through Instagram and Snapchatting every free moment I have)
- Give yourself the chance to meet new people: Whether you are coming with a friend to USC or not, I suggest opening up to the idea of making new friends. Personally, I came to USC with my best friend who I also live with, but we make conscious decisions to branch off and make new friends both together and separately. It is easy to stay in your comfort zone, but is it satisfying? If the answer is no, then use that as motivation to start meeting new people who can help expand your social circle.
- Take advantage of the outdoors: This morning I realised I have had almost every single one of my meals at USC outside. I live in the student housing and will always have meals I make at home on my porch. The Sunshine Coast has beautiful weather year round and I try to soak it up as much as I can. I have found that spending my time outside has helped improve my mood overall. Being in good spirits while at school is vital to your studies and will help make classes less burdensome and more enjoyable.
- Open up weekends for travel: I scheduled my classes so that my weekend begins on Thursday. Everyone has different options when it comes to class times, but I highly recommend creating space in your schedule to take long weekend trips. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Byron Bay, and soon Bali. None of these trips would have been possible if I had classes every day of the week. You are at USC to study and as a study abroad student, consider travel as a part of your education. I have learned so much on my excursions outside of the Sunshine Coast both about myself and Australia. I encourage everyone to have these experiences.
USC is a truly inspiring place to study and I hope these tips help any reader optimise their experience while here!
– Francesca Iannacone