My name is Emma Alquist and I’m a 20-year-old junior biology major at West Virginia University. I’m studying abroad in Sydney, Australia from mid-July to late December 2016.
I’m currently taking courses in vegetation ecology, health care ethics, biochemistry, statistics and movie appreciation. When I’m not studying, I’m trying to see as much of Australia as possible. I want to meet new people, make new memories, and enjoy this experience.
What made you want to study abroad?
I knew since entering college that I would find the time to do a semester abroad. I’m not sure if it was my sisters who influenced me, as they also spent time abroad, but it has always been part of the plan.
What were your expectations for this trip?
I just wanted to experience Australia. I wanted to live the city and beach lifestyle and study in one of the most amazing places in the world. I expected to focus on my studies as well as venture around when possible.
What do you hope to accomplish or do while abroad?
One of my goals in Australia was to travel to the Great Barrier Reef. With ecological problems like global warming and coral calcification, it’s not guaranteed to be here the way it is in the next 20 or so years. Luckily I was able to make it up the east coast and explore the wonders of the ocean. I also want to explore the Australian healthcare system and learn some of the major differences between it and the American system.
What has been your biggest culture shock?
Luckily Australia is an English-speaking country and is very similar to the United States, so I didn’t go into a crazy culture shock. However, being in the southern hemisphere is a different experience in itself. It was crazy going from summer to winter, and when I leave Australia I’ll be going from summer to winter again.
I’m also in a huge urban area, which I have never lived in before. I didn’t know how it would be going from West Virginia to Sydney, but I’ve been loving the city life. There is always something to do, and when it becomes too much, the beach is just a bus ride away.