Josh Krokowski, Peer Advisor
Multiple times per day I am reminded of the beautiful country of Australia that I was able to call home for the latter half of 2013. After a fast first couple weeks, I met people from Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, England, Denmark, and China, as well as many amiable Australians. In a country much more sparsely populated than the contiguous U.S. (less than 10% of the people in about the same area), I find it interesting how I was in a place full of world-class (and world-wide) friends. I spent many days at Glenelg beach and shared many jugs of beer along Rundle Street. Through all this excitement, I began to realize that the most significant learning from my study abroad experience happened outside the classroom. While I was very lucky to be able to continue studying mechanical engineering, I was given a chance to learn about other cultures and be challenged in a first-hand manner.
While I did find it strange that classes were often only once a week (as opposed to two or three time per week at CSU), I adjusted to the schedule. Because I had a light course load, I was able to spend lots of time socializing and being outside. During our wonderfully long two week mid-semester break, I was lucky to be able to travel to Queensland and experience snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and learning to surf at the Gold Coast. At the end of my time in Australia, I was able drive the Great Ocean Road, visit Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as spend some time in the paradise of the Whitsunday Islands. And as way to initiate myself back to the U.S. while still on a beach, I spent four days in Hawaii.
Australia was a place where I really found myself. As my time abroad progressed, I felt more confident and comfortable with my identity, both as an American and as an individual, both difficult things for me in the past. I lost my fear of uncertainty and was able to internalize the “no worries, mate” mindset. Due to my time with people from all over the world, I became passionate about language learning and got desperately addicted to travel. This addiction guided me into a month long internship in Madrid, Spain the following summer, visiting some of my Danish friends in Copenhagen, and gave me the confidence to begin a trip through Western Europe, traveling exclusively through hitchhiking and couchsurfing.
Needless to say, study abroad is a life altering path. Somewhat akin to the red pill, blue pill choice in The Matrix, it cannot be undone, but I do not know anyone that would want to undo it. Once you realize the world is so big and full, you begin to understand how accessible everything is. After a study abroad experience, questions are now of the form: What next?