This study abroad experience took place in Sydney, Australia, and it was a fantastic experience for my senior year at Penn State. The embedded experience was through the Art 299 course (Social and Cultural Exploration in the Visual Arts), and the trip took place from December 26, 2017, through January 7, 2018. While in Australia, we were able to learn about their culture, history, religious beliefs, politics, cuisine, traditions, and other cultural differences. By immersing myself in a new culture, I believe I was able to understand how their artistic expressions have shaped their country today. I was also able to understand the importance of their history and indigenous people.

Studying abroad was a great opportunity because it put me directly into a new cultural setting, and allowed me to adapt and learn in a new environment. I believe that I was able to learn more skills and first-hand experiences outside of a classroom setting. This study abroad program helped me to appreciate other cultures and it challenged me to keep an open mind and explore outside of my own culture. I believe taking this information I learned back to Penn State creates a great opportunity for me to teach others about the importance of other cultures and to promote diversity. Penn State already has a huge emphasis on diversity, but I believe allowing students with the opportunity to go abroad strengthens an already diverse campus. By sharing knowledge and anecdotes from my experiences, I believe I can positively impact the Penn State community and the world in the future.

As a Biobehavioral Health major, I am open to holistically thinking about concepts, particularly health. This study abroad experience, however, opened my mind up to new opportunities and perspectives that I would have never known about prior to this trip. During this trip, I tried to learn as much as possible about the country and shared my knowledge and experiences with my friends, family, and fellow peers. By describing and sharing my experiences with others, I felt like I was able to help others be grateful for other cultures besides their own and to have a broader and more holistic outlook on the world. I hope that through sharing my amazing experiences I can inspire others to learn more about other cultures and motivate them to travel abroad as well.

As I’m pursuing a medical career focused on working with all kinds of patients from all different backgrounds on a personal level to help improve their quality of life, I’m keenly focused on supporting and embracing what makes people different and helping them use that to their best advantage. Based upon my lifelong passion for working with and helping all people, my experience working with people from different backgrounds during my summer internship, and my education at Penn State, as well as this experience abroad, I believe I’m well-equipped to help spread the message of diversity and inclusion, which will be helpful in graduate school and in the professional world.

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