Down Under : Vanessa Leone Spent Spring Semester in Australia

Revere resident Vanessa Leone , a senior at Bryant College spent the spring semester of her junior year studying and traveling in Australia.  Vanessa is the daughter of Josephine and Emilio Leone of Revere.  The following are Vanessa’s reflections of a truly unique college experience:

This past spring semester I had the opportunity to study abroad for four months in the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. As anyone who studied abroad can attest, the experience was like no other and one of the best decisions I have made. To have been able to completely immerse myself in another culture allowed me to grow as a student, a traveler, and a person.

As a student, I gained a greater perspective on learning, collaboration, and communication. Australia’s education system being different from the United States meant that I had to adapt to different teaching styles, workloads, and grading systems. The courses I took at Griffith University were challenging yet rewarding. I was able to learn more about Australia’s culture and history not only from the instructors and the material taught in the class, but also from classmates. Often, I found instructors utilizing the international students they had by making the course an even greater learning opportunity as we could explore the similarities and differences between cultures.

As a traveler, I learned how to appreciate new environments and people. During my free time I went on mini-excursions that took me along Australia’s east coast and even out to surrounding countries. I was able to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, see the Opera House in Sydney, drive down the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne, bungee jump in New Zealand, see the beautiful beaches of Bali, and so much more. Each place I went to had become my new favorite place but, in the end, I realized that there was no comparing one to another as they were all different and unique in their own ways. Adding to the traveling experience, with each new place came new people and new friends. Each person I met had their own story and it made each trip that much more enjoyable. I met locals who told were always willing to share the history of their home and met tourist from all walks of life willing to share their travel experience with me.

As a person, I navigated being independent in an unfamiliar place. Living and studying in a new country presented itself with new challenges and new opportunities to build on certain skills. Over the course of my time in Australia, I saw growth in my time-management skills as I was balancing a full-time student course load while trying to explore Australia. I saw growth in my personal financial skills as I was managing my own finances in order to be able to sustain four months of expenses. I also saw growth in my communication skills as I went in barely knowing anyone to leaving with people who I know consider to be some of my best friends.

In all, my time abroad exceeded all my expectations and is an experience I am forever grateful for. Thank you, Australia, for being my home away from home and giving me a love for traveling.

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