Rob Clarkson, Australia

Rob Clarkson studied abroad with the CAPA Program in Sydney, Australia, during the Spring 2013 semester.

Photo: Rob Clarkson dune-boarding in Port Stephens, Australia

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I didn’t want to be confined to one method of education. Personally, I feel you learn so much more outside the classroom than inside, and there is no better way to learn than to try new experiences and step out of your comfort zone.

Why did you choose this location for your study abroad experience?

I chose Australia because I always had an affinity for the country and the location. Australia was a destination so seemingly far away that I thought I would never get the opportunity to go there. More specifically, I chose Sydney as the city I wanted to study in because it’s a cultural and global hub. Its location within the country and its diversity made it very appealing.

What was the most challenging part of being in another country?

To me, the most challenging part of being in another country is the independence. You truly learn how to live on your own, and everything that comes with this responsibility is what makes it so challenging. You learn so much about yourself through your interactions with others and you develop a greater sense of who you are.

What memorable experiences did you have while studying abroad?

I was fortunate to travel to New Zealand for 10 days, and during this time, I left the group of friends I traveled with in order to explore the country myself for the last three days of the trip. Starting in the South Island, I traveled from Queenstown to Christchurch, and made my way up the east coast to Kaikoura and Picton. From there, I took the three-hour ferry ride to Wellington in the North Island before ultimately heading back to Sydney from Auckland. I normally say that while the entire abroad experience was amazing, my journey through New Zealand was the best part of my trip. There is one thing to travel in a group, but it’s a whole different perspective traveling alone.

What do you think is the most important thing for students who choose to study abroad to prepare before they leave?

I believe the most important thing a student needs to prepare before studying abroad is his/her mindset. Without the right perspective and cultural awareness, and without being open to trying new things and interacting with a diverse group of people, he/she will not have as meaningful of an experience. Going abroad isn’t about being a tourist or going to a bar every night. It’s not about how much money you spend or the places you see. It’s about opening your mind.

What other comments would you like to make about your experience abroad?

Everyone makes their own experiences. Don’t let others hold you back from what you want to do, and don’t let yourself hinder you from doing what you love.

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