Renata Leach - 2014 Program Participant

Best friends traveling abroad

Renata on her first and last day with IES and her best friend she met while abroad.

How did you decide to study abroad?

I have always had a love for travel, and knew I wanted to study abroad before I attended college because my older brother told me great stories about his time studying abroad.

Why did you choose to study in Sydney?

I hadn't ever been to Australia, and I figured Sydney would be the best place to go. So, I searched the universities in Sydney and found one where I could take classes and get credit.

How did you find out about IES Abroad?

Texas Lutheran University partners with IES Abroad and I found out that IES went to Australia, so I had to go with IES!

Where did you live in Sydney? What did you like about it?

I lived in a dorm on campus at Macquarie University. They were single dorm rooms, but I loved it. It was a small place, so it felt like home for me.

What was a normal day like as a student in Sydney?

I only had classes a few days a week that I had to go to, but went to lectures the other days. I also had adventures with a good friend of mine that I met through IES.

Open water scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Officially certified Open Water Scuba Divers. Renata at the Great Barrier Reef with her brother!

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?

Wow, that's difficult. The experience as a whole was so memorable. Well, I guess it would have to be becoming scuba certified at the Great Barrier Reef with my brother when he came to visit during the last two weeks of the program. Also, during those last two weeks being in Australia, we dove with a great white shark. I'm not even joking. You can ask Byron Bay Dive Center, it's true. It was our eighth dive and last one in Australia, so we called it the "Great Eight".

Did you experience homesickness?

It was difficult to be so far away from my family and friends from home, but with the help, support and love from a friend I met through IES Abroad, we both got through the homesickness we encountered at times.

Why would you go back to Australia if you had the chance?

The country is absolutely beautiful. Everywhere you go, you see something amazing. There was never a time where I didn't appreciate the beauty of the country. I also would go back because the people were so friendly and nice.

Pancakes On The Rocks in Sydney, Australia.

Pancakes On The Rocks, one of Renata’s favorite places in Sydney.

How has your experience studying abroad impacted your life?

It has helped me obtain great problem solving skills that I can use for the rest of my life, but it also has allowed me to see a diverse country and open my eyes and mind to new ideas and opportunities.

Would you recommend IES Abroad’s Sydney program to others?

Yes, Sydney was amazing and I believe everyone would love it. It would be really hard not to. I personally believe that being so far from your home country has many benefits. Such as, becoming more independent, finding yourself, and simply being more thankful for what life offers.

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

Nothing, I absolutely loved my experience studying abroad. I would do it all over again!

What important tips can you give to future participants of your program?

Take home a lot of souvenirs to share! Especially Tim Tams, Cadbury chocolate, and definitely get SCUBA Certified! It'll change your life.

If you were going to study abroad again, where in the world would you go?

I would love to go back to Australia, but I think I would go somewhere I haven't been before to continue expanding on my travels and worldly knowledge.

Did you find it difficult to adjust to life back in the U.S. after studying abroad?

At first, I found it hard to connect with people back at my small university after such an impacting experience. I just wanted to share my experience with everyone, but actually sharing it was difficult itself. It covered so much! However, to end on a good note, I took a required class that eased my way back into the Texas Lutheran University way of school/life.

Manly Beach in Australia

Manly Beach.

If you could go on another IES Abroad program which one would you choose?

Probably any of them! I have seen that IES takes care of you! So I know that with any program, my experience studying abroad again would be eventful, memorable, and FUN!