What I Learned From My Eventful Spring Semester Abroad

May 19, 2020 9:31:00 AM / by Emma Estabrook

Emma reflects on what she learned during her time studying abroad in Sydney and shares her advice on how to make the most of your time abroad. She also shares advice for learning and working remotely!

The cliché is true in my case, studying abroad was one of the best decisions of my life. I made memories, friends, and learned so many new things that will change my perspective for the rest of my life.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_OperaHouseMe and my two friends spending our last night in Sydney getting dinner and hanging around the Opera House!

Most importantly I learned the value in saying “yes” to everything you can while studying abroad. At first glance, studying abroad for four months may seem like plenty of time, but as I learned firsthand, things can change very quickly! While hopefully no one ever has to be sent home early from abroad like I did again, I still think that it is important to be spontaneous as well as plan out as many things as you can while abroad. What I did was first make a list of everything I could possibly dream of doing while in Australia. Snorkeling, going to the beach, hiking, trying new foods, and so much more. Then, I left room for other things that I would learn about doing while I was in-country! Lastly, saying yes to everything I could. Even if I didn’t think that I would enjoy something like going to the Sydney Observatory to learn about space, I would do it! I never once regretted saying yes to doing something new and I think it is more important than ever to do this while studying abroad.

capastudyabroad_sydney_spring 2020_emma estabrook_umbrellasI said YES to visiting a Temple in Bali in the pouring rain and had so much from learning about Indonesian cultural and religion.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_SunriseI said YES to getting up at 4:30am to see the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen in my life on my last day in Australia.

Having to deal with the difficult transition from in class learning in Australia to virtual learning at home in the United States taught me new skills that I will be able to take with me to my now virtual internship this upcoming summer. The most important thing I learned personally was the importance of having a workspace. At the beginning of virtual classes I would attempt to do chunks of work in bed, while watching TV, or lounging on the couch. In order to optimize my time, I quickly found out how much more effective having a workspace is! I ended up turning a small corner of my room into a workspace with a table I found in my basement. It doesn’t have to be perfect but having a space where you go to get work done and nothing else will help you get into the right mindset to put your best self forward.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_GiraffeWe had a field trip and sleepover at the Taronga Zoo where I got to see and feed a giraffe up close. This was one of the most special things I got to do with CAPA!

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in a new place in the world with students the same age as you. Yes, you can travel in the future, but can you do it with one hundred other people your age that all live in the same apartment complex as you? I wish! Studying abroad is like starting back at freshman year again. The excitement and nervousness of meeting your suitemates from different parts of the world, leaving everything that is familiar to you back in the states, and having a fresh start. It is crazy how a place so far from where you came from can feel like home to you after a few months. Leaving Sydney early was one of the hardest goodbyes I have had with a place so far. On the bright side it gives me a reason to go back and do everything that was left unfinished!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_SwingsSwinging over the Indonesian Ocean.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_BoatMe and the friends I met while abroad celebrated our time in Sydney by chartering a boat in the harbor during our last week!


Thanks, Emma!

Minh Ta


Emma Estabrook is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Finance and Business Information Systems major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Emma's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Why Study Abroad