Outback offers new opportunities

It is a fabulous experience to study abroad, experience a new culture, meet diverse groups of people and become familiar with a new way of life. It was her first trip out of the United States, but junior Lori Phillips fell in love with the Australian people and their culture through a study abroad program Down Under.

Phillips left July 15th, 2008, spent four months in Sydney and also took a short trip to New Zealand. While in Australia, she took two required classes, View from Australia and Indigenous Culture. She also took a few elective classes: a theology course, photography and Pilates. Some classes broadened her understanding while others were for pure fun and enjoyment.

Phillips decided to study abroad as a growing experience, to look outside of her worldview and rely on God in a new way.

“I wanted to step outside of my life and do something that would force me to grow,” Phillips said. “This was the perfect opportunity.”

It was hard to be away from family, friends and the things that she was accustomed to, but Phillips hardly felt homesick or lonely because she met people who welcomed her and treated her like family. She met a nice host family and friends with whom she plans to keep in touch with.

Despite her great experience, she had some struggles with small things, such as getting sick and having her bank freeze her debit card. However, those things were not a big deal in comparison to her rich experiences.

It was not too difficult for Phillips to adjust to a new style of life in Australia because she was ready to learn about a new world with an open mind. Although she did not experience a lot of culture shock, she still found some cultural differences in Australia.

The first thing she noticed was the difference in daily lingo used in Australia, such as mate for a male friend, toilet for bathroom and rock melon for cantaloupe.

Another thing she adjusted to was the relaxed lifestyle and more free time in Australia, which directly contrasts to the bustling and busy American lifestyle. In addition to these Australian cultural elements, she saw aboriginal cultures that were similar to those of Native Americans.

Her favorite experience was her spring break trip to Magnetic Island with nine other American girls.

“My favorite part of this trip was snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef,” Phillips said in an email interview. “This was on my list of things to do before I die, and it was just as great as I had imagined.”

Studying aboard in Australia opened Phillips’ eyes to the world. She appreciated the experiences that challenged her but also gave her opportunities to further develop her worldview. When she left Australia, she was excited to go back home to see her family and friends but also found it hard to say good-bye to the people who had become part of her life.

“I could write and write about my experience, but really what I write cannot possibly amount to what I have learned, what I have gained and what I have experienced through this opportunity,” Phillips said.

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