Hello UBC Okanagan! My name is Maria Lammerding and I am the Opinions Editor for The Phoenix. This year, I am going on a year-long study abroad program to the University of Melbourne in Australia through Go Global.
For that reason, The Phoenix team decided it would be a cool idea to have a regular series about my experiences as an international student. I will be sharing with you the preparations before my departure, the trials and tribulations of navigating myself within a different learning environment, my experiences living in Melbourne, and my advice for others wanting to study abroad.
So, a little bit about myself — I am 28 years old and originally from Saskatchewan. I am currently a third-year undergrad in Political Science.
I have had a lifelong interest in politics, mainly geared toward comparative international politics. When I decided to go back to school, it was clear that Political Science was the path for me. Once my degree is completed I hope to pursue a master’s and eventually work for an international non-governmental organization.
Besides the fact that the University of Melbourne is considered to be one of the best institutions in Australia, I previously lived in Melbourne a few years ago (for about 24 months). I have spent much of my adult life travelling the world, and Melbourne was by far one of the best places I’ve lived. The city is so full of life and culture that when the opportunity arose to go back, I had to take it.
I am very much looking forward to experiencing the city in a new light as I will be involved in circles that I hadn’t been before. An academic world versus a nomadic one is quite different. Conversations are born out of different experiences, research and realities, and that is not usually something you are privy to unless you are exposed to the university environment, which I was not when I was last there.
There is also a life left behind there that I am excited to get back to. I have friends who have graduated from university, gotten married and are having babies (one friend also got a puppy and that might be the thing I’m most ecstatic about). Being able to share milestones and celebrations with people I care about will be a bonus to my Go Global experience.
Due to my extended period of time in Melbourne before and having already developed a support system there, I believe I will be in a good position to objectively talk about my experiences. Moving can be a difficult adjustment anytime, but when you add in the factors of a different country and a new university environment, it can be even tougher. Since I feel a sense of ease in going back to Melbourne and generally versed in how to set-up my life there (eg. finding a place, taking public transport, setting up a bank account, the cool neighbourhoods, etc.), I will be able to separate stresses from each other and identify what is a result of studying abroad and what is an everyday struggle.
I am eager to share my experiences with you and I hope you find this series helpful and informative or, at the very least, interesting.