To celebrate International Students’ Day on Sunday 17 November, Bob Berrios-Garza shares his experience as an international student studying at Curtin. This is part one of his story:
I chose to come to Perth to study at Curtin University for the same reason as many other international students; it’s a truly unique experience.
Most students from the US are drawn to study abroad in some of the prominent countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Madrid and Barcelona are swamped with American students in Spain for a semester, and the same could be said for France and Italy. Moving east, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Belgium, Vienna, and even as far as Prague in the Czech Republic is considered fair game for the majority of US students looking to study abroad.
Looking at the spread of these nations, it’s completely understandable. Traveling in Europe is cheap and simple compared to the rest of the world, and studying abroad in Europe will often allow a student to visit three to five different countries other than where they are studying.
While Europe remains the unofficial mecca for study abroad students, locations such as South America, India and South Africa are becoming hot spots for people from America to congregate.
So, why Australia?
I say all of that to point out that, when thinking of where to study abroad, one of the last places people think of is Australia. Down Under – an intimidating continent where not much is known prior to coming besides that kangaroos live here. The vast majority who choose to embark to Australia for their study abroad experience will flock to Sydney and Melbourne, cities that closely resemble cultural titans in other parts of the globe. What tends to be overlooked is Western Australia.
The capitol city, Perth, is considered one of the most isolated cities in the world. My parents warned me that coming to study here was ambitious. I remember being told that it was a mistake, it was in the middle of nowhere. Close friends who chose to study in Sydney often remarked that not only was there nothing around the city, there was nothing in the city.
Despite everyone telling me that I should redirect my focus to another place for my semester abroad, I decided to stick with my decision. I had gotten great reviews from an acquaintance who had attended a year prior, and the school I was going to attend, Curtin University, was praised for its advanced public health program and challenging curriculum.
The fact that I wouldn’t have to learn another language was simply icing on the cake. I packed my belongings, cut my summer short by about a month, and headed on a twenty three hour flight to Sydney. I had a several hour-long flight to Perth and, from there, I was immersed in a new experience that was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Part two of Bob’s story will be posted next Monday.