My name is Francesca Basil and I ‘m participating in WVU’s study abroad exchange program throughout the spring 2017 semester. I am 21 years old from Weirton, WV and currently in my third year of university.
I study Environmental Geoscience through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. My destination for the semester is Melbourne, Australia, and I am spending five months in the land down under. In Australia, I will be taking classes at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in the heart of the city.
What made you want to study abroad?
Throughout my studies in college, I realized there is still quite a lot I don’t know about the world. Coming from a small town, one can only learn so much until actually leaving that safe haven and making the move to discover new places and opportunities.
During my sophomore year of 2016, I participated in Adventure West Virginia’s international trip to Patagonia, Chile. Learning and understanding how that culture works and lives off of the land was such a humbling experience. After the trip, I decided that I needed a much longer time period abroad to fully absorb another culture. But where to?
Strangely enough, much of what I had seen online and in the news pointed me toward Australia. It was subtle at first, but after a while, I had a gut feeling that this continent was the place I should spend my long journey abroad. After researching cities in Australia, I found that Melbourne had exactly what I was looking for—a large cultural melting pot with people from all around the world. Everything seemed to fall into place for Aussieland, so I made my decision.
What were your expectations for this trip?
Rather than setting up expectations for my journey, I planned to do my best in sharing my life experiences and stories with the people I meet. This way I can leave an impact without having to live up to any unrealistic expectations of the “perfect trip.”
In fact, I pray that God leads my heart in the right direction, even if everything isn’t always peachy along the path. I want to learn from my mistakes and better both myself and hopefully others in the process. All failures are the stepping stones to great successes!
What do you hope to accomplish or do while abroad?
I have a long list of personal goals I would like to accomplish during my stay in Australia. Most importantly, I want to focus on taking full advantage of each and every moment. Each day is a precious and unrepeatable gift, and I only have a limited amount of days for my stay here!
What has been your biggest culture shock, if anything?
Australian lingo really throws me off sometimes. They shorten almost every word or phrase in order to quickly get to the point. In a simple explanation, Aussies cut off half of a word and add either a “y” or an “o” ending. For example, chocolate biscuits are referred to as “choccy biccys.” Also, if you want to order food out and you ask for “to-go order,” they will have no idea what you are talking about. They refer to it as “takeaway.”
Other than the comical lingo, the most notable shock I can think of is how easygoing Australians are in their lives. They seem very relaxed compared to most Americans, which is refreshing.