UMD: A Globally Connected University

Michael Robidoux

Michael Robidoux

Program: Freshmen Abroad: Destination Sydney 
Term: Fall 2018
Major: Criminal Justice and Psychology 

While studying abroad, I learned that my ability to adapt to new situations is far greater than I originally thought. You feel that you are very much in a new world while studying abroad, and it is exciting and terrifying at first. However, I quickly learned how to fit in and feel at home in Australia. I also learned that no matter where you are from, there are certain traits that all humans have in common. The greatest benefit out of this entire trip, besides the friends I made, was the massive confidence boost studying abroad gives you.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: While studying abroad there are lots of hurdles you will need to navigate and often on your own. However, once you realize you are able to navigate these challenges, you feel a great sense of pride and have confidence that you can do anything. Australia is an incredible place to study abroad because not only do you get to meet Aussies, but because Australia is such an international country, I was able to make friends from India, all over Europe and Asia, and other Americans and New Zealanders. This is something that makes Australia especially unique in many ways. 

One of the greatest parts about studying abroad is experiencing a moment and thinking how connected to the culture you feel. Multiple times, my friends and I couldn't help but look at each other and point out how Aussie we felt at the moment; whether it was eating kangaroo (roo) burgers, hiking next to kangaroos and wallabies, or just enjoying a good game of footy (rugby) there are plenty of cultural experiences to have. 

One of my favorite experiences was hiking at my friend's farm in New South Wales and seeing a group of about fifteen kangaroos hopping around and staring at us. I also had the incredible opportunity to go to Canberra for the 100 years Armistice remembrance day of World War 1. I was honored to be able to attend a ceremony where all the high up government officials and service members gathered at the Australian War Memorial. It was a remarkable experience to be sitting there surrounded by patriotic Aussies honoring their service members and hearing their Prime Minister speak. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: Trust the EA advisors. At the information session, the EA [staff] kept telling us how it was going to be one of the best experiences of our life. I thought of course they will say that, they just want us to go, it’s their job, but I can tell you full-heartedly that they are telling the truth; they know what they are talking about. Studying abroad was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life and it made me grow immensely as a person. 

I come from a small rural town in New Hampshire and I found it difficult at first to feel at home in such a big and hectic city. However, over time the city magically gets smaller as you recognize familiar places and it slowly begins to feel like home. It takes time to feel comfortable and at home when you are so far away and in such an unfamiliar environment, and that is okay. With time it will begin to feel more comfortable and before you know it you will be referring to it as your home.