Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder
It’s now been a full two weeks since I was last in Australia. Having some time at home has allowed me to reflect on all the awesome adventures I got to go on, and how much I learned and grew as a person while abroad. Obviously the weather transition has probably been the most difficult thing about coming back to Washington. My last week in Sydney saw back to back days of 100 degree weather (Fahrenheit of course), and since returning home it has either been freezing cold, or pouring down enough rain to flood the valley’s near my house. But how can I complain? Even though I’m back home, I’ve still been frequently talking with a lot of the friends I made while abroad who live all across the world. All of those friendships seem so strong that it’s crazy to think I didn’t know those people a few months ago, and that I would never have had the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people had I not had the opportunity to study abroad.
Tangible things like friendships aren’t the only great things I gained in Sydney. I have a real understanding of Australian life and culture, but also learned a lot about Europe from all of the European exchange students I met. I feel like I understand the world so much better after interacting with people from all over, and never realized how important gaining a global perspective was before this experience. Meeting people from all over the world with different cultures, customs, and ways of life, has made me a lot more open minded to certain things, and I’m now inspired to learn even more about other people in the future. It was so interesting to see the differences between life in Australia and life here in the states, and I really loved seeing how other cultures view the American lifestyle.
Finally, I am extremely thankful for all of the hiking, backpacking, and exploring I got to do during my time abroad. Growing up in the northwest, hiking has always been a passion of mine and was something I hoped to do from the beginning in Australia. I could never have imagined just how beautiful the different landscapes I got to explore were. Australia (and New Zealand where I spent a week during our spring break) had such stunning and diverse landscapes. And hiking, or bushwalking as it is called down under, was an excellent way to meet like-minded people who I shared some unforgettable experiences with. Study abroad truly was the experience of a lifetime, and while I already wish I could go back, I know I’ll have memories to last me a lifetime. To anyone considering study abroad, I would say that while it is a big commitment it’s something that you will absolutely thank yourself for doing if you find a way to fit it into your graduation plan while here at UW.