Study Abroad in Australia?

by Judge Josh on October 22, 2010

Allyson’s debating whether to leave the friendly confines of Boston University for Sydney, Australia. On the surface, it seems like an embarrassment of riches; BU is pretty swank in its own right (at least it was 18 years ago when I was a freshman there), and Sydney is — well, it’s in Australia, where all of us Yanks get excited about visiting at some point in our lives.

study abroad australia

Look out for this bloke. He's something of a womanizer.

But let’s explore further.

Hi Judge Josh,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond to all of our questions. Your information is always so helpful! :)

You’re welcome, and thanks for reading!

My query today is regarding studying abroad. I have just been accepted to an internship program in Sydney, Australia.

DO IT. Um, I mean, go on, I’m listening…

The program is run by my school, meaning my financial aid will be applied to the program. The cost is, in theory, slightly less than a semester here.

I think three months of the Pussycat Dolls’ European tour is probably slightly less expensive than a BU semester too, right? :) Anyway, go on…

However, there are some non-included costs (like the $1300 airfare, for instance) that are scaring me.

Sure, I understand. Anyone you know got a ton of credit card points? :)

Also, I’m not sure if it’s worth it to go. I’ve got a pretty strong presence here, meaning that I have a lot of activities at school that I would be interrupting and I’d be earning fewer credits towards my major and minor while abroad, meaning I might have to scramble a bit senior year. (I’m currently a junior.)

It’s probably worth it to go. Look at it this way: I’ve never heard anyone say, “I spent four months in Australia in one of the world’s great cities, but I regret it. I should’ve stayed in my apartment.”

I wouldn’t worry much about the issue of having a strong presence at school. Some things are worth pausing those activities for, and study abroad in Australia is probably one of them.

Plus, you can always pick up where you left off when you get back. Plus-plus, the study-abroad program may very well open up more doors for you later on than the activities you’re involved in at school.


Basically… should I be going abroad, or should I just stay here and continue with what I’ve already got going? I’m really confused.

I’m not. Go to Australia!

Seriously, though — I’d go, even though I don’t know what you’re studying or where you’re interning. It’s just a relatively rare thing for someone to get the chance to go live in another country, and also to get work experience there, that I’m gonna say go for it almost every time someone asks me.

Unless, of course, you’re making some enormous sacrifice to do it. A woman once wrote asking me if she should do study abroad and leave her kid back in the States, and I said no to that.

I also advise against overpaying for a school-sanctioned program if you can do it yourself (that is, go to another country and study) for many thousands of dollars less. I don’t know if that’s the case in your situation, but if so, at least you’re getting an internship out of it.

Otherwise, sure, go for it. You’re young and you may not get another chance to go to Australia at all, let alone for an extended amount of time like this. I’d jump at the chance.

Much appreciated!

And I appreciate the note. Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do!

— What about you guys? Should she go? Is it worth the time and money? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Inglis October 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Go. No question. Go. It’ll be the experience of a lifetime. Go. Go. Go. Is anything unclear?

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Britt October 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I agree with the Judge…Go! This is an excellent opportunity and even if all it does is expand your perspective, it will enhance your education more than a semester of extra-curriculars. If it is an extreme financial burden, I can understand your hesitance. However, if the main question is that it might make you a little uncomfortable, then it is great preparation for what lies ahead…lots of uncomfortable situations you will be nervous about. Take the chance. Lastly $1300 airfare is really nothing in light of the cost of attending BU (even the cost of living if you have a scholarship for tuition.)

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Lauri October 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

With Skype and Twitter and Facebook the reality is folks at BU will hardly miss you. Besides, it sounds like you need a lesson in “I can’t be replaced”. That’s a biggie.

GO! I’ll personally loan you luggage. And be a good representative of your country – I may want to travel to Australia some day myself. 😉

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shelley October 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

We have a female Univ of WA student, Amanda Knox, in an Italian prison with a life sentence for murdering her roommate. A kangaroo court and their media and the Italian mafia who are in bed with their government were all part of what put her there. Do your homework first no matter where you go! Know about their legal system and if their government is corrupt. How are their citizens protected from crime, etc Your safety will depend on it.
Now with that said, The opportunity to study abroad will give you more perspective and new eyes looking at life. The experience will have you more entrenched in their culture than you would be if you were a tourist.

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Jo October 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I studied abroad for a month and the only regret was that it wasn’t longer. There should be no question. Even if you have to graduate a semester later, it’s SO worth it.

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Arelis October 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I had just the same situation begining this semester. I have the opportunity to go to Madrid, Spain for one semester (next spring)-but I need about 10000$ to do it. However, there are scholarships and you can always ask big companies or even your county’s support for the experience. What helped me make the desicion was asking myself : “what is the meaning of life to me? what’s really important for me, finishing early or gaining knowledge?” Our life is a book yet to be written and is up to us to make it either new and original or just a copy of what everyone else think is a good book. So, I figured out I want to make the pages of my book packed with extraordinary experiences. Maybe I will have to scramble a little in my senior year (and that’s harder when you are majoring in sciences!) but I strongly believe that it is worth it. You are going to learn a lot of things you might never learn elsewhere so GO FOR IT! especially Australia, which is BEAUTIFUL, I wish I could join you! Good luck!!!!

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lacarz October 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Allyson i would go for it. this might be your big break.

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Allie October 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm

For the love of god, go. How is this even something to debate about in one’s mind?

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Leeja October 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm

GO!!!!…..even if you have to go to school an extra semester when you return. I don’t know what you’re planning after your bachelor’s degree, but if you are even considering grad school, that international experience is going to jump off the page when you apply. Professionally, depending on your field of study and how the program you’d be in overseas rates in quality, studying for a semester under the “great Dr. Dundee” could be the difference between you and other applicants for that post graduation job also!!!

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Michael October 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Man, I was really heartened to see all the comments advising her to go. I honestly didn’t expect it. Allyson, let me ask you this. How many people do you know who have never been outside the United States (and I don’t mean some day trip across the border to Canada or spring break in Mexico)? The fact is, many Americans don’t see anything else in this world, and they end up having a woefully small world view. You don’t want to be one of these people. Spending an extended period in a foreign country is an eye-opening, and sometime even a frightening, experience. I guarantee that you will come back home with a new perspective on your home country. You’ll be able to more clearly see what we do well here and what we do not so well here. You’ll make friends you’d probably never have the opportunity to meet, you’ll experience cultures you’d otherwise have little chance to experience in any kind of substantive way. You are probably very comfortable in you present situation, and that’s probably as good a reason as any to do this. Interesting things can come out of shaking things up a bit and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.

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Elizabeth Dudley October 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I am currently in Argentina this semester (also a junior) and I do not regret it at all!! I am only getting 12 credits and I have one major and three minors… I also have a pretty big presence in school but depending on when you go you can pick it right back up. I personally would not study in Australia because they speak English and I went abroad as an International Relations major with a Spanish minor but depending on what you are studying it will be a really good choice, like I really wanted my friend who is an environmental studies major to go…

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Kelsey October 23, 2010 at 12:49 am

I studied abroad in my Junior year of college and it was the best decision that I made in college. I grew so much as a person while living with all new people and experiencing all new experiences. P.s. I’ve been to Australia on a mission trip and it was one of the best places I’ve been so i say, GO!!!

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Kayla October 23, 2010 at 3:38 am

GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain, and I needed over $14,000 to make it possible, but it’s SOOOOOOO worth it!!!!!!!!! It’s amazing to live and study in another part of the world. I’ve had that feeling of regretting what I’m missing at my school in the U.S., but you know what?? All those things will still be there when I get back!!!! As someone once said (and I tried to look up who said it and am still not sure), “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you think about what you’re missing in the U.S., then you’re going to really struggle to go. But if you think about what you’re GAINING by studying abroad, you’ll see things in a much better light. I’m loving it so much here that it’s going to be hard to go back to “real” life, but I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have my concerns with coming!!!!!!

Arelis, I am really excited for you to study in Madrid!!!!! You’re going to LOVE it!!!!!!

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Melinda October 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

I say DO IT! No question at all, if you have the opportunity, jump on it! I went to Japan for a semester, and I regret I didn’t spend a year there! I really strongly believe that wherever you go, you’ll have a blast and the experience will change you in a way that staying at your university in the U.S. won’t. Set sails and have fun! 😀 (Say hi to Dory for me!)

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Grey_GirlPTK October 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Allyson,

GO!!!!!

I know what you mean about finding the $1300, but I am a junior at Seattle U. I am planning on going to France next summer–despite needing $13,000 to make it happen. Yes there are scholarships/grants and school funds to cover most of the expense. However, I am a full time care giver for a disabled parent so need money to cover rent (so mom has a place to live) and other expenses to keep her afloat while I’m gone, plus what will be my share of the cost of the trip, plus replacing the paycheck I won’t be getting while I’m gone.

I nearly talked myself out of even trying to make it happen. But worst case scenario I earn some extra cash and use it for something else if I can’t swing going. So until I aboslutely know that I can’t make it happen I am busting my butt to try and get there.

True I might have to push graduation back a quarter, but I know it will be worth it. I was born in Michigan, lived for 26 years in California, and have been in Washington 12 years now. I don’t want to be one of those people that spend their whole life wishing they had travelled aboard. I can’t garuantee that I will have the opportunity to go aboard later. I’m in my 40s and not married, so the idea of waiting for a honeymoon trip or family vacation is not likely to happen. If I knew I would be making enough to pay for it after grad on my own then I would wait. But right now my best bet seems to be going as part of my program.

I’m a History major, minor in French. I am taking 3 out of 5 French classes this year, and the other two in Grenoble, France. If not I’ll take the other two over summer here and next fall. But I’d rather go to France to study French:)

So go Allyson. Have a great time. You realize if you go all your friends at BU will be complaining that they wished they had gone. They’ll be jealous of you going. I know I’m jealous, in a good way, of my friends that went this past summer to France, Spain, Costa Rica, and Haiti…. But next summer it will be me:)

If not France somewhere.

So get going. Pack your bags. Find the money for airfare! You would find it to go fly across country to see your favorite band play–and you know you probably would. So why not do a term in Austraila??? You’ll have fun. learn amazing things–about yourself and the world. You’ll possibly find your purpose. Or you may just have a really great intership experience that leads to your job… Go! Stop sitting there reading comments and get started on raising the airfare.

Bon Voyage:)

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Bridget October 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Grey girl,
Good for you in deciding to study abroad in your 40’s. It sounds like we are in a similar situation. I’m a senior and will be spending my final semester in Spain in a few months. I am 35 and figured it would be my last opportunity to spend this much time away from everything. No lease tied to my name right now, no husband, no kids. Yeah, my measly paycheck won’t be coming in but my out of pocket expenses should only be about $3,000 for the trip. It still cracks me up that I’m going. There were so many good responses on this thread. Good luck with coming up with the funds needed while you are gone.

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Linda October 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I would go for it if I could….there would never be another chance to do this so go for it!!!!!!

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Cassidy October 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm

In spite of seeming to join the band wagon- GO! Study abroad is one of the best experiences of your life. If your activities can’t wait/you don’t think they will- you need to talk with the people there and see what they think about you studying abroad, i bet they will support your decision!!

You could look for cheap places such as through student travel websites, or cheapoair.com or fly.com or any number of other sites that search for cheap ways of you doing things that you want to.

Always take advantage of a study abroad opportunity. you will never get to go ever again in your life, not like that. And it is an internship to boot!

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Anonymous October 24, 2010 at 9:38 am

Just go
If I had that chance, I wouldn’t think about it
Just Go
from Chile

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Bridget October 24, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Allyson, I noticed you said you are getting some financial aid. If you qualify at all for the pell grant try to apply for the Benjamin Gilman scholarship.

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Kristan October 25, 2010 at 1:42 am

Definitely go!!! There may be scholarships that you can use to defray the cost of travel through either your university, the place you’re interning at, or the Australian university you’re at OR the program you’re doing all of this through (after a simple 5-second Google search, it looks like IIE and AIES have travel awards…?). You might also be able to appeal for a temporary increase in financial aid (which you might be able to get away with a bit more easily since you’re at a private school) or take out additional loans…

Also, be sure to check out travel agencies (like STA Travel) to see if you get discounts. Another option is booking your tickets well in advance (or catching a red eye or looking at flights with lots of transfers, or flying in the off-season if possible?) to cut costs.

(I mean, considering that studying in Australia ends up cheaper for you than studying in the states for a semester, technically you’d applying the difference towards airfare and breaking even, right?)

HAVE FUN!!! 😀

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Josiah October 25, 2010 at 5:48 am

Absolutely… Positively… GO!! There are so many students who would trade near anything to be offered an opportunity like the one you have. Find a way to make it work, look for grants in your local public library, ask family, do fundraising. For a noteworthy cause, I don’t see why you could not get the funds to go.

Plus, work or not, it would be an amazing vacation-like experience! So my vote is go!

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Terry October 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Went to Sydney for vacation last June and it is a wonderful city, even though it was winter. We would retire there in a heartbeat, if it wasn’t so stinking far from the US. People are super nice and it is extremely easy to get around. It’s not cheap to live there, though. As for airfare, we paid the big bucks too ($1500), but should have waited cuz airfare came down in January to $1000. Not sure which semester you’d be going, but I’d put your itinerary into Trip Advisor (or similar) and track the price. STA also is a good recommendation from Kristan. You are going to want to travel through the country or even go to New Zealand, and its not exactly a puddle jump to get anywhere, so consider that expense too.
If you haven’t already, talk to some fellow students that have participated in the program and get their feedback. I can’t imagine any of them would have anything negative to say. Also, one less thing to worry about by studying in an English speaking country. Wish my daughter would go so we could hop a plane and visit her! Go and have fun!

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Max October 26, 2010 at 5:46 am

Well, let’s see…
Your current university’s cost vs. Australian university is more expensive. That alone, makes me say “Just get yourself a damn visa and plane ticket already!”

Nothing happening in the clubs or culture of your university can compare to the foreign experience. Some other poster mentioned something about Australia being an English-speaking country as being a negative thing, but Sydney is like the nicer, cleaner New York City down-under. English is the standard language, but you’ll hear just about every language spoken there too.

Trust me, a stranger on the internet who one-manned himself over to China, when I tell you any time outside of our country will give a little perspective, as well is look good to any future employers.

Make friends, stretch your limits a little, and immerse yourself into your guest country. I doubt you’ll regret it.

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Anonymous October 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

Live my family and go to study abraod in Autralia It’s not a problem to go to study in a nother country, because Education is more important for me, I should be educated first, after this I’ll think about my family. because with out education we can’t be any thing around of this world.

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Kelly December 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

GO!! You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. What if you look back on it in the future and regret not going? You can’t take that back. GO. Things will be waiting for you when you get back..

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Sophie December 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm

GO.

I’ve gone twice, each time in the summer. The first time was in a country where the currency was of a much lower value so I got credit and saved money doing it. The second time I got almost all of it paid for thanks to scholarship applications.

Sounds like you’re going to save, actually, so

GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO

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Sierra February 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Love this site, even if the posts don’t relate to my current problems, it’s always quite motivational. I’ve been considering studying abroad as well, and this just confirms that it’s the right thing to do while I’m young, single, and able to. And Australia would be AMAZING, so as one prospective traveler to another, GOGOGOGOGOGOG!

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ana March 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

im going to say this in spanish
veteeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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Nicole April 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

You. are. a. lucky. duck. Two words: DO IT!!!!!!!!!

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Mensah Barimah Yaw June 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I have been offered admission to study in the Netherlands but missed the scholarship attached.Should I quit or pursue since there is no money to pursue?

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Nichole July 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

This is completely odd, because the business college at the University of Texas has like a full list of study abroad programs and when I saw Australia, I knew without a doubt that it’s the best oppportunity especially for my international business degree, so DO IT and i’ll see you there :)

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jordan August 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

Go! I was unsure about doing a gab year abroad in Germany even though it was a full tuition, internship program. Now, I’m back in the U.S. and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. My resume sticks out, I always have an interesting experience to share in interviews and essays. I honestly believe that studying abroad is one of the best things someone can do for themselves.

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