Note: This story also appears in the December/January issue of the Sho'men Club Newsletter. To become a member of the Sho'men Club, click here.
Women's swimmer Mary Stroman spent the fall semester in Australia and writes about her experience in the Land Down Under. Here is her experience.
Studying abroad in Australia has been the best opportunity I've ever taken advantage of, period. I was back and forth on whether I wanted to apply or not because, thanks to being indecisive about my major, it would set me back a little bit with my classes. Once I started looking into Bond University's program, I was sold right away. I remember coming back from my first study abroad meeting and telling my roommates that I had to go there, there was no question about it. Being here has lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing people I would meet and things I would experience while being halfway around the world from home. My classes here have been difficult but the hardest part was finding a balance between enough study time and enough beach time. Australians are just so laid back about everything; I love the way people are here!
I knew coming in to this that I would have a much different experience from my other friends also studying abroad. Europe is more known for its amazing history and diverse cultures, while Australia is more about the geography. I came here for the sun, the beach, and the mountains. The only things blocking the view out my bedroom window of the ocean in the distance are a few trees and a small bridge. There is a beautiful outdoor pool right outside my window, which only means I can't escape swimming even if I tried – and I have definitely been taking advantage of it! Swimming outside is like a whole different sport from indoors, and I just love the feeling of the warm sun on your back while you're doing your workout. The weather here has been spectacular, although it's been a little too hot lately. Believe it or not I'm actually starting to miss the cold weather! They aren't kidding when they talk about the lack of an ozone layer here – the sun really is strong enough to get a sunburn in just a half hour of eating lunch outside.
This has been my endless summer and I can't believe I have to go home in less than three weeks now. I've gone sailing and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, learned how to surf, walked the Sydney Harbour Bridge, been to the top of the highest building in the southern hemisphere, seen some of the most gorgeous coastlines, drove on the other side of the road, held a koala and fed kangaroos, and in a few days I'll be heading off to Thailand for something totally new. I have done so many new things since being here that I can now cross off my bucket list. I've tried to adopt the philosophy of 'try everything once' – including eating kangaroo meat, which is delicious!
Although everyone had told me that it'd be a great experience, I really didn't expect to learn so much about myself as I have since being here. I've learned that I am a much more easygoing traveler than some of my peers here, I am not as picky of an eater as I thought I was (or that my mom insists I am), and that I can really get along fine in just about any situation. I do miss home and WAC a lot but I have had the time of my life here. Studying abroad in Australia was the best decision I've made in a long time, and I could not be happier with my experience. This feels like another place I can call home now, just as Chestertown grew to feel too. My time here has opened up my eyes to so much more than just schoolwork and future career plans – the world is a beautiful place and has so much to offer, and I can't wait to come back here and see even more.