Sara Martin is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A biological sciences major, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester through the custom program at the University of California, Davis.
Although I grew up thinking that my hometown Redding, California, was an average city (being the largest town in the area), I now realize how small it really is after moving away for school. This taste of freedom was part of the reason that I wanted to study abroad. The idea of getting to peek into different cultures all over the world is very exciting. The only traveling outside of the United States that I’ve done has been visiting family with my dad and step-mom in the Philippines when I was younger.
The decision to study abroad was a long process involving endless budgeting so my friends and family weren’t exactly surprised by the time I made my decision, but they were still happy for me. However, I don’t think I would have had the courage to sign up if it wasn’t for my roommate and best friend of three years, Anna Smith. She has bestowed upon me as much travel wisdom as possible and I believe I can at least make it through the airports now. While my parents are a little nervous about me being so far away from home and in such a different environment, they are also very excited about how much I will learn while I am in Sydney.
Photos: Kid’s Kingdom, Redding, CA
I originally wanted to study abroad because I knew that I needed a big change in my life. The knowledge that my fourth year is coming up and I haven’t really focused on anything beside the academic side of school was driving me crazy. I want to explore new cultures because I feel that understanding those with ideals different from one’s own is one of the most important things that one can do to become more open to different ways of life – in turn making for a more peaceful future. I also believe that learning about similarities and differences with others is the best way to truly understanding oneself.
Because I haven’t traveled very much before, the fact that locals in Australia speak English makes studying abroad there much less intimidating. I am worried about fitting in enough, although it is inevitable that I will appear as a tourist. I want the chance to learn about the culture for what it is and why the locals appreciate it… not just for what is a popular attraction. As it says in my bio, I have also always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reefs and understand more about the Australian climate, especially before they die out from coral bleaching (more on this topic later!). Although that does bring up another fear of the box: jellyfish… and the crocodiles… and the stingrays… but it should be okay, right?
Photo: Clear Creek, French Gulch, CA
When I registered to study abroad, I was so intimidated by what I had just done that I didn’t know what to think. There was so much to do and I didn’t know where to start, so I met with my program director for about an hour to go through the important processes of preparing for my excursion. As the months passed by, I began to apply for my visa, make necessary purchases for the different climate, apply for scholarships, and submit questionnaires for CAPA internship opportunities. Every day, I felt like I found more paperwork to fill out and documents to copy for emergency… but now I think I am just about ready for anything.
Not long after applying for and being accepted for this blogger position, I found out that I have also been chosen to intern with the Oasis Crisis Centre when I get to Australia. I had so many feelings: happiness, excitement, intrigue, and pride… I can’t wait to see what I can learn about helping others from my experience as a part the Oasis Youth Support Network. I think it will really help me in the long run when I enter the medical field. On another note, this blogger position is an especially big step for me in a new direction because I am normally very introverted, but I’m ecstatic to see what doors it opens.
Over the summer, I was able to work at a Taco Bell in Redding and temporarily move back with my mom in order to save up as much money as possible. I had a great time working there, reconnecting with family and old friends and making some new friends. I was basically able to work full-time, so it felt like a pretty successful venture. Aside from earnings and help from my family, the CAPA study abroad scholarship, loans, Cal Grant, and Pell Grant have definitely saved me for this year. While my wallet is going to be sad for years to come, the experience of exploring the world is definitely worth the trouble.
Photo: Hopefully all I will need from home in the next few months!
As I began packing my carry-on, I decided to check my travel details one last time. I am so glad I did that because it turns out that the bag I had been planning on using was two inches too large for the luggage restrictions on one of my flights. While many may say that this size difference isn’t a big deal and they might not even notice, I would rather be more careful and leave things behind than end up having to throw them out at an airport halfway across the world.
Sara's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.