My Experience As An International Student

My name is Claire and I am an exchange student from the good old US of A. My journey to Australia began when I decided to stop running track for my home institution at the University of Oregon, becoming what we call a NARP (non-athlete-regular-person). My craving for a refreshing start and passion for traveling lead me to my decision to study abroad. To become independently stronger, wiser and culturally well-rounded were just a few of my goals while here in the Land Down Under.

I studied communications at La Trobe, but back home I will be graduating with a degree in advertising as well as product design. During the semester I was the Media and Communications Intern for La Trobe’s Experiential Learning Team. Throughout my internship I was responsible for researching and writing student profiles, website content creation, assisting with presentations, designing surveys, and conducting video interviews to promote La Trobe subjects.

Aside from the valuable skills and experience I acquired through my course and internship, I also have learnt quite a bit about the Australian culture.

7 things I have learned about Australians:

  1. They don’t use stick deodorant. They spray it out of a can. Weird.
  2. “Nor” actually means “no”, their accent just says otherwise.
  3. They like to add “ie” to the end of words. (Ex. breakie, barbie, footie)
  4. They eat their pumpkin in roasts, not in pie.
  5. They don’t have to tip for customer service.
  6. Instead of calling you by your name they will use words like “mate” or “babe.” At the grocery store the checkout lady calls me “love” and it makes me feel so special.
  7. They say “cheers” like Americans say “thanks,” and every time I hear it I instantly have this urge to clink my non existent glass with theirs.

7 things I have learned about Australia:

  1. Melbourne is like Oregon in that you can experience all four seasons in one day.
  2. EVERYTHING IS EXPENSIVE. A tube of what would be $7 mascara in the US costs easily $25 here.
  3. The birds here are amazing. I’ve never seen colorful parrots in the wild before. What’s not amazing, though, are the birds that make terrifying noises after dark and then again as my alarm clock every morning!
  4. Oh, and don’t get me started about the possums. They look all cute and cuddly from afar, but whatever you do don’t get too close. They will find you, and they will kill you. Okay not really, but seriously they aren’t nice.
  5. The portion sizes here are tiny! I ordered a small coffee and it was the worst decision of my life. After finishing it in one sip I then ordered a large and finished that one in 3 sips. On a positive note, Melbourne is famous for its coffee and I can definitely taste why.
  6. No, there aren’t giant snakes and spiders everywhere.
  7. If I could combine the smell of feet and armpit together in one jar I would call it vegemite. Enough said.

I am sad that my time at La Trobe is coming to an end. The past four months flew by and it feels like just yesterday I was boarding my plane to Melbourne. I will spend the next month traveling through Australia and New Zealand before I fly back to Oregon and finish my final semester as an undergraduate student. Studying abroad was not only the refreshing change that I was craving, but it also gave me knowledge and experience that will help me succeed in my future. If you are reading this and are considering studying in another country, stop thinking and start applying! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I highly recommend every college student takes advantage of.