By Courtney Magann
I went on a study abroad trip and I came home with so much more. How do you encapsulate all of the memories you’ve made and the friendships that you’ve gained and the things you’ve learned and experienced in a few paragraphs? The short answer – you can’t; you’ll just have to experience it yourself to understand.
I came back from Europe in 2015 with itchy feet. I wanted to get on the next plane out of Sydney and explore somewhere new! But the real world doesn’t stop spinning while you’re gallivanting about and who really has the money to do that anyway. I cleared customs that day already planning my next adventure – America. Back to UON I went and back to ‘normal’ life, until amongst those constant Blackboard notifications did one appear about studying abroad; and once that little thought was in my head, it never left.
In conjunction to the phenomenal sights, people and travel in the US of A, I spent the last 3 weeks of my trip at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Sourced through AIM Overseas I participated in the Social Media for Business and Digital Marketing intensive course as part of the American Semester Program, in July of this year. I do a Bachelor of Communication so this was perfect for me – think of it as about a semester’s worth of work literally compressed into 3 weeks. It was a lot of work I won’t lie, but some of my favourite memories of the entire experience came out of those late night study sessions – and you soon discover that being able to order pizza at midnight through an app, and have it delivered to your dorm is truly one of the most amazing developments of mankind.
American college is an experience in itself. MSU’s campus is huge – almost a mini town. Yes, you live in a dorm and yes you eat at a cafeteria and yes, Spartan pride is everywhere. Think of any item – I’m not joking, think wooden spoons to bar blades and everything in between – and you’ll probably be able to find it with MSU or Spartan branding, and trust me; you’ll want to buy it all. We went to Chicago and to Niagara Falls, celebrated the Fourth of July at a baseball game, frequented Harper’s (a groovy bar with a very happy, happy hour and an even happier deck area); tried MSU made ice-cream at their dairy store (they make their own cheese too!), made American friends and went to American house parties where red solo cups and beer pong is a very real thing. We had a mini graduation and we toured Spartan Stadium, experienced a County Fair and somehow still managed to get all our homework done.
Everything that made up my time at MSU was beyond what I could have hoped for: the cultural activities, the city visits, the classes – all unforgettable. It’s funny though because some of the things that make me smile the most aren’t about the classes or the things we saw but rather the small things. Knocking on each other’s doors after a big night to make sure we were awake and wouldn’t miss class, the message to the group chat every morning; “who’s keen for breakfast?”, the unashamedly bad dancing and singing that always managed to be caught on Snapchat or the unspoken agreement that napping came before anything else after class.
Studying abroad is a whole experience – each little thing makes it what it is and it’s only at the end that you truly appreciate what you’ve just done and the people you’ve shared it with. Its only when you reflect on it like this and when you look back at the photos and the Snaps, and the videos that knit the whole thing together that you really realise what an incredible, rewarding and lasting opportunity you’ve had. Studying abroad is whatever experience you make it, but don’t take my word for it – go find out for yourself!
Courtney is studying a Bachelor of Communication. She likes words, flowers and extra guac with her nachos.