I arrived back in Los Angeles a couple days ago from Sydney. The last couple of days I’ve been reflecting on my experience- so much happened in the past month! I think my last week was my favorite week of the whole trip. By the last week I was the most comfortable and adjusted to living in Sydney- I knew my way around most places without needing to use my phone and had favorite spots at local beaches and parks. I also felt most adjusted to having a regular routine- going to classes during the week and other planned activities on the weekend. I think getting into a routine helped the most while being abroad since it gives you some normalcy in the unfamiliar.
Being able to study more in depth my other major, Anthropology, was something I didn’t expect to be so exciting. I’ve always considered Biochemistry to be my main area of interest and never really considered conducting research in Anthropology or pursing that subject at as high of a level as biochemistry. But this experience has exposed me to what Anthropological research can really look like in the field, and how many opportunities there are to explore those topics in a professional way. I discovered that I have a passion for cultural anthropology, which I never really took much interest in previously.
Something that surprised me the most about my program was that I would become more outgoing. Going into the program, I was nervous about being so social: having to live with a group of people I didn’t know and having classes with new students as well as meeting new people and making friends abroad. Though I didn’t enter the program very confident about how it was going to go, I’ve finished the program with a new sense of confidence. I found that being abroad and meeting people who felt the same way as me going into the program really helped me feel not alone. I made a lot of great new friends during this experience, which is something I’m so grateful for. It’s given me more incentive to be social and move out of my comfort zone once I’m back in Pitt too. Before I went to Sydney, I had this impression that studying abroad was more of a solo experience- where you would grow a lot because you’re alone and a foreigner in a new place. But I learned that actually was able to grow and share this experience with so many of the great people I met on my trip and who were on the program with me.