My name’s Steph and I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science at ACU’s Melbourne campus. I’ve always had a huge dose of wanderlust, and it’s been only getting worse since I left high school. Add to that the fact that I always wanted to study overseas, and applying to do exchange was a no brainer for me! I scoured ACU’s website for opportunities and discovered a short-term intensive course in positive psychology organized by a private agency called AIM Overseas Australia. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I applied and 6 months later I was hopping on a plane bound for the Netherlands.
Studying overseas was such a wonderful, crazy and exhilarating experience that I’ll never forget. Since the course that I was accepted into takes students from all different universities in Australia, I was given the amazing opportunity to network and build close friendships with people I would never have met otherwise. And those friendships came so easily; being stuck with the same group of people for basically 24/7 for 3 weeks definitely ensures that!
It was so interesting getting to experience another countries education system. The university I was studying at, Maastricht University, uses a system called Problem Based Learning, which is based around the idea of individual study and group discussion. It’s organized into small groups and each member has to participate and bring something unique to the discussion otherwise they are not counted as being present. Needless to say, all the pre-readings were completed before each class! I’m still not sure which education system I prefer, but it was a very interesting and a completely different class environment to experience. And getting to study a subject that is not easily accessible in Australia was an amazing experience. The professors and tutors that we had were so passionate about their work and imparting their knowledge to us. Even better was the fact that they were all part of the research team based at the university, which is at the forefront of some of the most fascinating research coming out in positive psychology at the moment.
And what would overseas study be without learning about the local culture? The program I was on organized group tours into Brussels, Brugge and Amsterdam for us, and it was so much fun getting to wander around lost in these fascinating cities and see life as it is lived by locals. No matter where we went, there was always something new and exciting to see. Sadly, we only got to spend a day in each of these cities, but you could easily spend another week there and still not see everything!
The most exciting thing about Europe, in my opinion anyway, was the size of it and the ease of access to everything. It’s hard to fathom, but from where I lived for the 3 weeks, the Belgium border was only a 15-minute bike ride away! It’s seems crazy to us Australians but Europe really is that small. Which lends itself to being able to travel after the program really easily. I decided that while I was overseas, I might as well make the most of it and set out to Paris immediately after the course. Paris is one of the most culturally and historically rich cities have been lucky to experience and I fell in love with it immediately.
There are so many more things I could say about my experience studying overseas, but none of it would do it justice. It has been one of the highlights of my life and I will never forget it nor the friendships that I made. I would go back to study there without a seconds hesitation.
If you’re thinking about applying to study overseas, go for it! Not only do you get to travel and see the world, but you also get to study a subject/course that you’re interested in. You make so many new friendships and have your eyes opened to the world. Getting to see how other education systems work is fascinating, and the professors are so passionate about their subjects that you are always looking forward to the next lecture. And it’s great getting the time to just sit and absorb the local culture, and learning to live at the same pace as them.
So what are you waiting for? Go apply for studying abroad, and find your next adventure.