Personal Growth 10,000 Miles from Home February 28, 2019

By (Susquehanna University) - abroad from 07/01/2018 to 10/21/2019 with

IFSA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Griffith University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad changed me forever. I gained personal growth, independence, interpersonal skills, and confidence in myself I did not know I was capable of. I was introduced to a new way of life, new music, new food, new everything- and I loved every second of it. I was so homesick and anxious when I arrived, but I grew through my uncomfortable situation into someone I never knew I was capable of becoming

Review Photos

IFSA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Griffith University Photo IFSA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Griffith University Photo IFSA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Griffith University Photo IFSA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Griffith University Photo IFSA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Griffith University Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Griffith University gave me an amazing educational experience abroad. The coursework was reasonable. My professors were very rational, friendly, and cared about me as a student. They were interested in my cultural background as an American student studying in Australia. The students on campus welcomed me with open arms and I made friends at Griffith that I still keep in touch with. The experience at Griffith overall was the best semester I have experienced thus far. The campus is beautiful, bright and open. It is a little community within itself and everything on campus is very modern.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My leaders at IFSA were a huge help to me when I arrived to Australia. At first when I landed, I was homesick, sad, and uncomfortable leaving home (my safety net and comfort zone). My administration made me feel at home, checked on me frequently and were always there when I needed them! When it came to the end of my program, I did not want to leave Australia- I grew so much as a person while I was abroad and I could not have done it if it were not for the support I received.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Surfer's Century Apartments. The apartment was breathtaking with a perfect view of the ocean and the Q1 building. The staff was incredible, there's a sauna, a big pool, hot tub, tennis courts- and I was only a 30 second walk to the beach! Surfers Century is within walking distance from Cavill Avenue- the place with all of the grocery stores, shops, restaurants and bars and clubs. The location was ideal. I loved living in Surfers Century because it gave me a lot of freedom and it's only a 20 minute tram ride from Griffith University. I only had uni about 3 days a week- so this was not a hassle whatsoever! The tram is so easy to figure out in the Gold Coast too, which is another major perk.

* Food:

Acai bowls, coffee, and kangaroo burgers with garlic aoli sauce were some of my favorite things about Australian food- not to mention tim tams! (caramel ones are the best). Vegemite is a must try item while abroad in Australia, I loved it on toast with a little butter and a scrambled egg on top! So good! Food is a major piece of culture and Australian food is so good. The candy (lollies) at the store are different than here in America as well- I loved them!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I made amazing friends in the Gold Coast. I made a friend at the end of my program who allowed me to live with them and their family for three weeks after my program! They took me surfing every day and took me to the airport when I went to New Zealand. I made friendships abroad that will truly last a lifetime- everyone is so welcoming and willing to introduce you to their culture. The locals are great. A place where I really loved to meet locals was Burleigh Hill on a Sunday afternoon (arvo) for a sunset. It is a perfect social scene! The local culture was something I molded into easily with the beach lifestyle, ocean and surf culture and the laid back nature of the Gold Coast.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I am a type one diabetic and I got a bit of a cold when I arrived in the Gold Coast. I went to the doctor and they listened to me and genuinely wanted the best outcome for me. I had an incident as well in NZ where my backpack was taken by accident in my hostel room and I went to the doctor in Gold Coast when I got back home because some of my diabetic medication was in the bag I lost and they had no problem prescribing me new medications because they knew the importance of the issue. They were very understanding and listened to what I wanted as the patient.

* Safety:

There was not an instance where I felt unsafe in the Gold Coast. My only advice would be to make sure you control yourself when consuming alcohol since the drinking age is 18 there, pace yourself and go out with friends who will take care of you! Even at the nightclubs and bars though- the environment is very safe and people have your best interest in mind. Be mindful and smart just as you would anywhere!

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I would do this program over and over again on repeat if I could. This experience has molded me into the person I am today and I cannot wait to go back to Australia. I am so excited for what the future holds. This opportunity changed my life for the better and I can truly say I am a better person because of it.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The conversion rate was in my favor as an American student. I did not live beyond my means. My weekly grocery cost was about $40 or so (Australian) and I saved a lot of my shopping for the end of my program. I saved a lot so I could travel to Cairns, New Zealand and Melbourne.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $65
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Only buy what you need, chip in on groceries with housemates!

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The culture
  • The people
  • The location
* What could be improved?
  • absolutely nothing.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew to pack more sweatshirts because Sydney and Melbourne can be quite cold!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.