Experiencing Australia through an Exchange Program
“I love traveling and have always had a spirit for adventuring. In addition, I always dreamed of traveling to Australia one day,” Mary Green said when reflecting on her decision to pursue a study abroad opportunity in Australia.
Mary described her four and half months in at Griffith University in Gold Coast, Australia as life-changing. From February through June of 2018, she experienced life as an Australian college student taking four social work courses.
“When I wrote papers, and there were a lot of them, I had to make sure my papers used the Australian version of English,” Mary said, describing several of the challenges she was faced when adjusting to a different country and culture. “The grading system is also completely different than America’s. It was difficult for me to adjust to.”
The fourteen-hour time difference from also posed a challenge when communicating with family and friends, but she made it work. She also noted that when she left the U.S., it was winter, but it was summer in Australia.
Despite all of these challenges, Mary found herself enjoying the excitement and challenges that came with encountering a new culture. She navigated the city of Brisbane with an excellent public transportation system, which made it easy for her to get around to experience the city’s diversity. She enjoying discovering the array of ethnicities and cultures represented in Brisbane, including a large Chinese population and their own Chinatown.
For Mary, the highest point of her trip was the opportunities to explore the many wonders Australia had to offer, including scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and interact with kangaroos and koalas. She was also able to make a trip to nearby New Zealand to explore it’s North Island.
Mary described the application process as not difficult, but one that you have to stay on top of. This process consisted first of meeting with Dr. Neil Abell, the College of Social Work’s director of International Programs, followed by meeting with Dr. Dina Wilke, social work faculty who heads up the exchanges programs for the college with Sweden and Australia. Thanks to helping from Dr. Dina Wilke and Leigh Ann Bauer at the FSU Center for Global Engagement, Mary fulfilled her dream of exploring and experiencing Australia.
“I highly recommend traveling abroad,” Mary exclaimed. “There are plenty of scholarships out there to assist. It was because of them that I was able to go. I’m thankful for the Leaders for Life Fellowship, Gilman Scholarship, and CSW International Program Scholarship.”
She credits her work with the FSU Honors, Scholars and Fellows House (HSF) for connecting her with a variety of additional scholarship opportunities. With the help of HSF staff, she was able to successfully navigate the application process and the required essays.
“I learned that the world is smaller than we think and that human beings are the same everywhere, on every continent, all ethnicities, and languages,” Mary reflected. “I learned that I was capable of a lot more than I thought I was. I also developed some great friendships along the way with people from many different countries and all walks of life.”