Laura O'Brien, Deakin Business and Law student
Clemson University, USA
I was lost and now I'm found...
After two years at Deakin, dropping subjects and switching courses, the opportunity to go on an exchange seemed an unpredictable move for someone with no defined career goals. But when I got the email about the UMAP subsidy I just thought 'What have I got to lose?'
I am yet to think of a word in the dictionary to describe my exchange experience. Going on an exchange is no doubt the BEST decision I have ever made. This opportunity has broadened my horizons limitlessly. I have learnt more about life in the global context than anyone can learn from books or the internet.
Living life and looking at a new world from the dorm room of a foreign university has given me a whole new perspective. I met exchange students from all over the world - Chile, Argentina, France, Belgium and Sweden...I have made so many international friends. I now have friends and contacts all across the globe, and I will have a place to stay almost anywhere I choose to travel in the future!
I'll admit, when embarking on this massive adventure I was absolutely terrified. I had all the usual apprehensions. Would I fit in? Would I feel safe? Would I get homesick? Would I be able to pass subjects while studying in another country? Would I make any friends? But from the very first day abroad all my fears were put to rest. I had strong reliable contacts at Deakin University whom I knew would be there to support me every step of the way. There was also the Education Abroad Department at my host institution who offered numerous services to international students. But more importantly, there were so many other students who were in the exact same position I was. I soon realised that despite coming from entirely different cultures and backgrounds, we all held the same fears and aspirations, likes and dislikes. My exchange has reinforced to me how important it is to accept other people for who they are, not for the country they live in or the government that represents them.
I feel I have truly made the most of my tertiary education through my exchange! I just wish I'd chosen to stay a whole year and not just one semester! No one should pass up this amazing opportunity. Going on exchange is the best thing you can do, not just for your career, but for your well-being and development as a person.