Sula Watermulder ’14, Auckland, New Zealand, Winter 2013 — I will never forget my semester at the University of Auckland. As a geology major, my main excitement was about being in a very tectonically active country. I took an earthquakes course with a field trip to the South Island and got to touch the boundary between the Pacific and Australian geologic plates. It was very cool to live and study in a city. Auckland is a diverse and friendly place, and I never once felt uncomfortable or unwelcome. Going to a big school with Kiwis and many international students is different from the small, close-knit community at Bates, but one that I embraced. You can definitely feel a bit in the minority with an American accent. But it is also a great conversation starter and many people want to talk to you about the differences between America and New Zealand. I applied directly to the university instead of going through a program, which I am glad about, as I made friends from all over the world and not just Americans. Being in New Zealand is a lot less of a culture shock than being in a country that speaks a different language, but there are still many life learning experiences simply from living on your own in an unfamiliar city. New Zealand is a really beautiful country. I’m thankful to Bates for giving me the chance to experience it all.
Anne Ngo’14, Hobart, Australia, Fall 2012 — I chose to spend my semester abroad in Tasmania, an island south of the Australian mainland. My university was located in the capital city, and I thought that Tasmania would be a great place since I am an Environmental Studies major. My semester was nothing short of amazing. I had the opportunity to meet some great people, see the work and research being done at the Australian Antarctic Division, and to travel independently around the mainland after my semester. Prior to departure, I was extremely nervous, but time seemed to fly by once I settled in. Looking back, I realize how friendly everyone was and willing to help. Studying abroad helped me break out of old habits and comfort zones — nerve-wrecking, but really rewarding. Although Australia isn’t a foreign-speaking country, I still thoroughly enjoyed learning about their culture and their perspectives on the United States. I cherish all my friendships and moments that I had in Australia. My experiences in Australia are definitely a highlight of my Bates College career. I would absolutely recommend anyone thinking of studying abroad to take advantage of this opportunity.
Rakey Drammeh’14, Townsville, Australia, Fall 2012 – When I made the decision to study in Australia, I was nervous because I was the only student from Bates at my university. But when I got there, I found that not knowing anyone was the best way to met some of the nicest people I have ever met from all around the world. Being immersed with a diverse group of people helped me gain a better understanding of how life goes on in other countries. Having to be more open and social in my new environment helped me see and understand myself better. I grew in so many ways imaginable that when I got home, even my parents saw the difference. I was much more independent and free spirited, which even took me off guard. It was extremely hard to say good-bye to Australia, particularly to all the new friends that I made. I learned so much from each and every one of them in ways that I could not have at Bates. The experience also reassured me that I want to pursue research in the field of ecology when I graduate from Bates. The time I spent in Australia was the best learning experience I have ever had. I hope I have the opportunity to go back soon.