By: Michelle Cooke
It’s no secret that studying abroad provides students with the opportunity to travel the world – living and learning in a new environment, a different culture. Going on exchange is certainly more than just moving to a new country and going to school. It’s a chance to grow as a person both personally and academically.
The “study” portion of study abroad is obviously important, and studying at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia complimented my education at McMaster. I was able to take courses that I would not have been able to take here at Mac, network with a new cohort, and experience a different approach to education. I was also able to see what the industry I hope to enter, after finishing my degree, is like in a city other than Toronto. I don’t think people realize the networking possibilities that are available in a different country, but it’s definitely a cool aspect of studying abroad.
Going on exchange is something that I’ve wanted to do since high school. However, I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have on my life. I came back to Canada with a new perspective on all aspects of my life. And yes – I realize how cheesy that sounds, but it’s true. Moving to a country without any of my friends or family forced me to grow as a person. My experiences abroad allowed me to better my understanding of what I appreciate as a person and, let’s be honest, what I could probably do without. I became friends with people from all over the world and was able to learn a lot about them and what their home countries are like – all the while becoming accustomed to the Australian culture. It was amazing to see what that part of the world had to offer, and it was even more exciting to experience it with people who quickly became some of my best friends.
It definitely isn’t easy, picking up your life and moving somewhere else, but it certainly is worth it to step outside of your comfort zone. Surprisingly, it made me appreciate being Canadian a lot more than I already did – no matter how much you love being abroad, sometimes there’s no place like home (where there’s Caesars and Tim Hortons). There are so many amazing memories that I made, so many different things that I did that I definitely wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for going on exchange.
Michelle is a student in Communication Studies and Multimedia, Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University. She studied for a single term at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.