Hello! My name is Marta Cholewa and at USC I studied General Studies but at my home university, I major in Exercise Science. My home university is Grand Valley State University which is near Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I am originally from Palatine, Illinois which is close to Chicago. I have been wanting to study abroad ever since I heard all my sister’s study abroad experiences and travel stories.
The decision to study at USC was an easy one because I knew I always wanted to go to Australia and I did not have to stress about not knowing the language. Grand Valley State University helped me throughout my process as there was so many people to talk to if I had questions or concerns. I did a lot of the planning myself since I am a big planner, but I was able to get all my questions answered about my specific country and school by talking to a previous student who studied at USC. There were plenty of meetings to attend that gave advice about safety, adapting to culture, education, and travelling. My school definitely helped me feel prepared for my journey.
All the classes I took fulfilled my general education requirements, and it was really interesting to see how differently they teach subjects that I have taken in high school. The most fascinating class I took and the class I learned the most in was the History of Australia, which consisted of engaging discussions and it opened my eyes to a lot of the topics the country faced that I did not know about. The most creative class I took was Topics of Design. I am not the most artistic person, but that class allowed to get out of my comfort zone just enough to have fun with what I was doing. It was also an opportunity to learn about the popular designs, brands, and advertisements in Australia what may not be well-known in the states. The most thought-provoking class I took was An English Tradition. Not only is English difficult for me in general but trying to write a paper in ways that are very different than how I was taught to write is difficult. Nonetheless, I learned some new ideas and read some great material by new authors.
The most entertaining class I took was Coastal and Marine Ecology because my professor was an engaging individual who liked to crack jokes and tell us about his experiences. This class I took randomly because I thought it would interest me and I was right. Classes are much more hands-on and interpersonal than back at home. The professors genuinely try to get to know you and are very engaging in group work. The building itself made me feel like I was at an outdoor mall and the kangaroos hopping around are something I never got tired of seeing. I was also fortunate enough to travel before school and before quarantine and have seen very beautiful, memorable places. I was able to travel to the north of Australia near Cairns. My friend and I rented a car, which was a thrilling experience getting used to driving on the other side of the road and getting used to new rules, while we drove around the Atherton Tablelands and ended up at the Daintree Rainforest. I have seen stunning waterfalls, cute animals, and even had the chance to snorkel and scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef.
After school started, I was still able to visit the Steve Irwin Zoo and the Gold Coast where I tried surfing. If I had to pick a favourite spot, I would choose the Daintree Rainforest area because I loved the jungle feeling, after I got used to the giant spiders of course. The moment I will never forget is looking up at the stars on the beach because it was the most amazing thing I saw. I could see the whole milky way and it was because the rain forest area has very few lights and service in general, so I was able to live away from my phone. An amazing experience that was cut too short. I strongly recommend and urge everyone to take a trip to Australia because it is a beautiful country filled with amazing nature, people, food, culture, and animals. Hopefully I have the chance to go back one day.