This Place… These People — by Annabel Maschal

Maschal, Annabel1

As Study Abroad Ambassadors, we are likely to receive emails from future students who have questions about the study abroad experience. Recently, as a new ambassador, I received my first email asking about the different universities in Australia, what insight I had on them, and the university I attended.  I eagerly started to reply by stating all the great things University of Wollongong presented me with from the environment to the academics, but there was a reoccurring subject in every great thing I mentioned: the people.

I wasn’t expecting to make best friends abroad because I went to Australia not knowing a soul in the country, but little did I know Campus East at UOW housed some of the purest, most incredible students I’ve ever met. It didn’t take long to immediately connect with them through the immersive social aspect of the Campus East community.  Soon I was surrounded with these amazing, lively friends and they became my family abroad. My favorite attribute about them was that they were completely accepting. Actually, if I were anything but myself, they would be confused. Because of them I became the most honest me I have ever been and I have never accepted myself more. Once, I accepted myself everything became easier and more fun and more real. I was living in Australia for the first time. Adventuring, traveling, learning and loving.

When I found out I couldn’t pack 12 Aussies, 1 Canadian, 1 Coloradoan, 1 Chicagoan, and 1 North Carolinian in my suitcase, I had to say some of the hardest heartfelt “see ya laters” in my life. After months home, my heart had an ache that was only put on pause when I answered online calls, and after enough calls we all reached the inevitable decision that there must be a reunion. Eight of us Uni students recently got together in Mexico for our first reunion of many to come (We already started planning Reunion 2016).

So, my thought on my study abroad experience is that a lot of universities can offer you a great education and a lovely location, but it’s the friends you make that will make your education abroad experience all that it can be. Friends and family will last forever even when the semester ends.

 

Annabel Maschal
Statistics Major with a Spanish Minor
President of The Ceramics Club
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Maschal, Annabel2

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