Amira Eissa from Salve Regina University in the US studying at USC Sunshine Coast

1Amira Eissa, Bachelor degree in Psychology and Marketing, from Westchester, New York

When applying to USC, the application process was simple and straightforward given that my home school, Salve Regina University, is sister schools with USC. After applying and being accepted, Salve began its preparation stage of studying abroad (exchange) by giving me plenty of resources to inform myself about USC and Australia. I was introduced to an older student who had already studied at USC and she helped me navigate the more specific questions I had in regard to how to set up a phone plan, a bank account and transportation. All in all I was so ready to embark on my abroad experience thanks to the easy transition courtesy of USC and Salve.

Although I only had two weeks of in person classes, USC education was better than I could ever imagine. From professors who really showed they cared about students success, to interactive lectures and easy to understand class layouts, it was made clear from the get go that I was going to succeed at USC. Back home I am used to small intimate class sizes and was intimated entering USC knowing it was a bigger school and I’d be attending classes in big lecture halls, something we don’t have at my home institution. On the first day of classes I was relieved when I saw how interactive lectures were and how in a room of 50+ students I still felt heard. Even when classes transitioned to online I still felt as though professors wanted to go above and beyond to make the remark on easy for us. Zoom classes were still interactive, professors took time to ask how we re doing, the blackboard outline was easy to navigate, all in all I felt cared for and eager to continue to strive for success in my classes.

Although my study abroad experience was far from traditional and not according to plan, my friends and I managed to make the most of our time on the Sunshine Coast. Post isolation my friends and I decided that the best way to travel around Queensland and still feel as though we saw as much as we could, was by doing a road trip up the coast. After finals we planned a two week road trip starting in Sippy Downs and ending up north in Cairns. We rented two cars and me and my six friends begun our trip. We started in our college town of Sippy Downs, went to Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Agnes Water, Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays, Bowen, Townsville, Mission Beach, Palm Cove and ended in Cairns. Along the way we stopped and explored what the coast had to offer and I can confidently say that there was never a dull moment. Although our semester was turned astray by covid, we made the most of the time we have left by driving way over 1,000 miles to see what our state of Queensland had in store. Along the way we hiked many trails, saw as many ocean lookouts as possible, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef, walked through the oldest rainforest in the world, cooked a lot of meals, shared a lot of stories, sang a lot of great tunes and made some memories that’ll last a lifetime. This has been my favourite part of my abroad travels and I couldn’t be more grateful for the group of people who were alongside me. Although I didn’t get to do the trips I had planned originally, it all worked out and Australia still managed to steal my heart.

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