What you get out of your study abroad experience is solely based on your expectations. As Martyn reflects on a semester abroad in Sydney, he encourages students to consider these 2 important points: understanding the pros/cons and doing your research for a great semester abroad.
Studying abroad in Sydney has been an incredibly interesting experience, and one that has gifted me memories I will do well to never forget. I’ve spent the last few months describing my own journey through a semester abroad, and I have really tried my best to get my personal journey across in 500-1000 words. The only thing that I can offer now that I’ve returned home is not personal tales, but advice for the next wave of students considering a study abroad program. As someone who was a little cautious about going abroad, I completely understand the hesitation to make such a commitment. Everyone’s process of deciding to go abroad is different, so I’ve tried to whittle mine down to a few personal thoughts into two broad points.
Here are some thoughts that I’ve grown into throughout this semester.
1. Understand What You’re Going Gain/Lose
I wish I had found the graffitied hallways of the University of Sydney sooner.
This is a point that is the most poignant and one that only really hit me as the days in this semester went on. There’s so much to gain from a semester abroad but you also miss out on a ton of opportunities that you may have had if you stayed home. This could be classes only offered during that semester, research and job opportunities, and other personal or club activities. I know it seems simple but making one giant "Pro and Cons" list will really allow you to put your options into perspective. Studying abroad is an amazing experience undoubtedly, but if it’s going be an ultimate detriment to your college career you may need to just come to the harsh realization that sometimes the timing is not going work out. You’re always gonna find time to travel so it’s not the end of the world if you’re not able to make it work. However, if you are dead set on going and have to put in a little more work the semester after in terms of course load, it is my personal opinion that a semester abroad is worth the one or two added classes.
2. Do Your Research
The Blue Mountains provided one of the best hiking experiences of my life.
If you’re unsure about studying abroad, I’d also recommended trying to get first-hand accounts from people who have recently been abroad themselves. Whether this is through talking with students who have gone abroad or vicariously reading through blogs written by CAPA students named Martyn Megaloudis, if you’re unsure about study abroad, personal experience can go a long way. I’ve talked a lot about how I didn’t look too specifically into Sydney, but I still must advise that you make sure whichever study abroad location you choose will be right for you. While I would have loved to travel to Florence, I am absolutely awful at learning new languages and thus I felt that despite the interest, I wouldn’t be able to survive the semester with any kind of language barrier. Know what you want out of your experience and see if the program and the country that you’re planning on visiting are in line with those wants—that is key to making a semester abroad worthwhile.
The Public Garden in Sydney remained one of my favorite places to go during the semester.
At the end of the day, your experience is going to be solely based on your expectations and what you put into it. If you work hard to find the right location for you, chances are you’ll have a study abroad semester that offers unforgettable and life-changing experiences.
I'm going to miss the bluest blues of Bondi Beach.
Just want to give a short thank you to CAPA for giving me the opportunity to blog during this semester. I had a great time putting my experience down onto paper and had an even better time finding my voice. I hope that some enjoyment was felt from at minimum two of my blog posts (I was going say three but I know when I’m pushing my luck). It’s been a pleasure blogging for CAPA. I can’t wait to see what the next semester of bloggers have in store.
Martyn Megaloudis is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.
See more of Martyn's journey in Sydney.