Stevie is a Senior at Loyola University New Orleans majoring in music industry. She is an avid traveler with a passion for music, fitness, fashion, and food.Interviewed on - 5 May 2015
I chose to study abroad for a few reasons. The first being I was getting bored of my routine at home. I simply needed a change. Another reason was that I had done a short summer program in London the summer before and that trip put my wanderlust into the forefront of my life. After that I had to see more. I wanted another adventure. I was also interested in studying the music industry through an international lens and seeing the differences and similarities compared to the U.S.
I chose Australia because it has been a place I’ve been fascinated with since I was a little kid. There's the perfect level of fantasy and mystery connected to the country that I had to see for myself. After researching a bit, I found out about Melbourne. I had never heard of it before, which shocked me, because it was everything I love embodied into a city. The reputation of being the arts capital of the country really solidified my choice in going to Melbourne specifically.
The most memorable experience I had abroad was traveling up the east coast of Australia while I was on mid semester break. A friend and I took nine days to visit Byron Bay, Brisbane, and the Whitsunday Islands. It was hands down one of the coolest and most fun trips I've been on in my life. Getting to see more of Australia than just Melbourne and Sydney was awesome. I loved the beach town vibes of Byron, got to meet up with friends I met during orientation in Brisbane, and experienced true natural beauty in the Whitsundays.
The only real challenge I had while I was abroad was budgeting my money for the entirety of the trip. It was a bit hard at times deciding on what experiences were a higher priority and what things I just didn't have room for in my budget. Being in a brand new place with so much to offer is a bit overwhelming. I wanted to do and try everything, but realistically I didn't have to budget to throw all caution to the wind financially. It was especially hard while traveling on top of being abroad.
I know the exact reasons I do want to go back to Melbourne and will in the future:
1. The food
2. The culture
3. The people
Although Australia isn't known for its food, it should be. As a self proclaimed foodie, I love trying new restaurants and eating all kinds of foods. I experienced some of the best meals of my life in Melbourne. Australians don't mess around when it comes to brunch, or any other meal for that matter.
As for culture, the identity of Melbourne as a city is easily said, but difficult to fully explain and understand unless you are there. It is filled with hidden gems that you can miss if you so much as bat an eye. That fact alone adds so much allure. You walk out of your door with an adventure waiting to happen, filled with music, art, sunshine, rain, and a nice flat white (all in one day sometimes).
The factor that brings all of this together is the wonderful people that live in the city. I met so many great people and friends not only from Australia, but all over the world while I was in Melbourne.
Study abroad truly opened my eyes to the fact that there's a whole world ready to be explored, and it’s up to you to take on the adventure and expand your life. Seeing that there are so many people living full and fulfilling lives so far removed from my own helped me see that I don't have to live by the structure that so many people think needs to be followed.
The experience also made me extremely independent and boosted my self confidence in the best way possible. It takes a lot of courage to move to a place that is unfamiliar and so far from your normal life. Because I studied abroad, I know I can handle myself and I can handle being an adult. I lived on the other side of the world by myself for six months and made a (wonderful) life, I can handle anything.
I would absolutely recommend The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) to anyone looking to study in Australia or Asia. They made the whole process so easy and were a great support throughout the entire experience.
The standouts of TEAN for me were orientation in Sydney, and the local team member I had in Melbourne. The orientation was by far the best out of any orientation I've ever done for anything. It's a great introduction to the months ahead and life in a new country. Also, having a local guide who's there to help you out with settling into the new city and continuing to support you through the whole time abroad is incredible. By the end of my time abroad, my guide had become a friend and was a big factor in helping experience Melbourne more like a local.
To be honest I would probably go back to Australia and study in Sydney. Melbourne and Sydney have a city rivalry, and it would be interesting to live an equal amount of time in both to assess for myself which city is more myself. Two other places on my list would be Copenhagen, Denmark and Berlin, Germany. I haven't experienced a lot of Europe and those are the cities I've heard really cool things about and would like to see.