Meet Eva Happel (she/her)
Program and Location:
Summer, University of Adelaide; Adelaide, Austrailia
Middle grades language arts and social studies education
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I wanted to study abroad because I think it is the perfect opportunity to be able to experience a different culture, city, country, etc. while also being able to take summer classes to either catch up or get ahead in your major. Being able to live in a different country temporarily and experience daily life through studying abroad is unlike any other experience one could have- just traveling to a country for a month would not give you the same experience. Also, being an education major, I was excited to be exposed to another countries’ way of educating, to be able to compare and contrast to what I am used to and gain a broader and more culturally responsive style of teaching into the classroom.
What did you learn about yourself?
Most study abroad programs involve a group of people, most likely in the same major, who travel together but I went alone. I’m used to meeting new people, however it was a big step out of my comfort zone doing that in a new country. Before I met my friends there, I was pretty lonely and had to deal with the uncomfortableness of being with just myself, but I soon became to love it. I was scared to go to restaurants by myself in the beginning (I would only go to cafe’s by myself) but by the end, taking myself out to dinner was one of my favorite things to do. I would also take long walks and explore the city and nature around me listening to my favorite music and it would be the favorite part of my day. I learned how to be company for myself and actually enjoy it by doing things I enjoy as well such as reading or Bible studies, as well as a grown appreciation for how far I have come in stepping out of my comfort zone.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
My favorite part of the program was the people I met. I am involved in a Christian organization at NC States campus called CRU, and I knew it was an international organization, so I looked up to see if the University of Adelaide had that club on their campus as well- low and behold they did! I was able to reach out to one of the members involved there, while still in America, and was able to know someone going into the country which made me feel a lot better about going there alone. Through that person I also met an entire community of people who shared the same values as I did and I hung out with them mostly every day. Since they were all mostly born and raised in Adelaide, they also showed me the best parts of the city and took me on a bunch of fun adventures. They are some of the best people I have ever met in my life and I hope to see them again someday.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
My advice would be to not let anything hold you back. At first I did not know if I was going to be able to study abroad because education does not necessarily offer a summer abroad program with a group of education majors, but I did not want to let that stop me and went alone- go where you want to go no matter the obstacles in your way because you won’t ever get an opportunity like this again. Another piece of advice is to do as much research about the country you’re going to as possible, because that made me a lot more conformable going in, knowing what to do/not to do and also helped with the culture shock a little bit. It could also help you to figure out and plan some good eating spots, things to do in free time, etc.
Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?
I was pleasantly surprised with the location I chose- Adelaide, Australia. I did not know this until I got there and had talked to people, but Adelaide is not a commonly known city that a lot of people live in or travel to because people mostly go to the bigger cities of Sydney or Melbourne. In fact, people call it the “small town city” because even though it is a city, everyone knows each other, and the people there are known for being a lot more relaxed and easy going than people would normally be in a city. I am not really a big city person, so this was perfect for me and I loved it because it was like the best of both worlds being close to a lot of stores and restaurants like a city would but not having the hustle and bustle culture like normal. Similarly, the public transportation and way the city was laid out was great and I never got lost even though I was in a whole new country!
Would you do it again?
I would 100% do it again! I am not sure if my summer will allow for me to, since I am a junior, but if the opportunity arises, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I would love to be able to experience it again. I am not sure if my funds would allow me to go again, but NC State offers a lot of opportunity for study abroad scholarships.