Natalie Farrell - 2010 Program Participant

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because I had always wanted to travel and see the world. I also thought it would be a great learning experience being on my own and far away from my support system for the first time in my life. The hard part was deciding where to study. The possibilities are endless! 

What program did you use? Why did you choose your program?

I chose to do a semester abroad at the University of Sydney, Australia through Globalinks (formerly Australearn and now ISA). I chose my program for several reasons. Once I decided on a country and a city, they seemed to have a program at every University in Sydney. University of Sydney had rave reviews and the main campus is situated in a neat part of the city. It was also close to the bus route to get to the beach and downtown.

Globalinks provided housing at Sydney University Village and helped me through every step of the process to make sure I was on track and ready to go once I arrived in Australia. They also had a very fun orientation week in Cairns (next to the Great Barrier Reef) that was provided as part of the program fee.

What makes the program so interesting?

While I already completed my program back in 2010, I loved that we had an orientation week with other American students attending our same University before arriving in our chosen city. I did not know anyone else in my program or in Australia. It gave me a chance to make friends and create a new support system that made me feel more self-assured when I arrived in Sydney. Groups of us would learn how to use public transportation together and go shopping for apartment essentials. We also went out at night to bars and clubs and explored different areas of the city by day.

What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?

The best thing about my program was having a contact in the U.S. who I could rely on to give me help and advice while I was abroad. I borrowed a friend’s international cell phone to take with me, but could not get it to work. My contact at Globalinks was able to tell me my options regarding how to buy a phone in Sydney, and about the different plans that were recommended for international students staying six months or less.

What’s one thing you would have done differently?

I wish I had gotten to surf more. I did a weekend Surf Camp with some friends to learn, but did not feel comfortable enough renting a board to surf at a beach in Sydney. It was always so crowded in the water and I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough control of the board and could possibly hit someone. I should have taken another lesson or done another weekend camp to get better, but there is always next time.

Now that you’re home, how has study abroad impacted your life?

Study abroad changed my life. No exaggeration. It made me want to travel and explore the world even more. While I am currently living in Vail, Colorado (and love it), I desperately want to move abroad again while I am in my 20s. I feel the experience made me comfortable enough to move anywhere without knowing anyone because I am confident I will find my way and meet amazing people. 

Life is a journey and expanding your horizons culturally can only result in a positive impact. I am also still in touch with close friends I made on my trip and our time together in Australia is something we will always share.