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Vivian Bunker

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Exercise and Sport Science
Program: The University of Melbourne
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Term: Spring 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I had never been out of the country before and I wanted to experience something new. I think there is no better way to see another part of the world than to study and live in a new environment. I also felt safer and more prepared having traveled out of the country for the first time with the guidance and resources I received at UNC. With financial aid, specific study abroad advisors, and the pre-abroad meetings, I felt supported and ready for it. I selected my program based on what interested me, but also on what would be most beneficial to my major. Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia and has different national sports from the U.S., so I wanted to explore that community to understand the similarities and differences in sports business and sports medicine there compared to here.


What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience I was able to learn about what I personally value when I’m not surrounded by thoughts regarding my future career or by people I’m normally influenced by. Going into college I felt I was always focused on preparing for my future whether it was another job, volunteering experience or club. When you remove yourself from the only place and people you know, you feel as though you have a clean slate and no predetermined obligations. While my classes were a focus, I had a lighter load and so had more time to invest in exploring my interests. I learned I enjoy cooking and bouldering. This emphasis on a work-life balance was also reflected in Australian culture. From all of this I was able to become more self-aware in how I wanted to balance my work and post-work life and am proud to bring it back to UNC. It will definitely ensure my last two years are only going to be even more eventful and fulfilling!


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories is when I went to K'gari Island with 4 other students I met from the university. We rented a 4x4 vehicle and drove on the sand along the coast of the island. There was so much wildlife from dingoes to sea eagles. What made this trip so special was seeing humpback whales jumping out of the water for the first time. We also camped overnight, which was my first time camping. Not only did I learn how to build a tent during that trip, but I learned to appreciate how beautiful wildlife and nature are more than I did before.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
My best advice for students who face uncertainties would be to remind themselves that although their distance from home has changed, their connection to it hasn't. What I mean by that is that just because they are in a different place, it does not mean they don't have the same security and resources as they did at home. Although there may be a time difference, friends and family are just a phone call away. It may be overwhelming because so much is unfamiliar, but if they take a breath and be patient with themselves to adjust they'll start to see it is simpler than they thought. For example, every country has maps to help people get around and banks are often nearby to exchange more money if needed. If there is confusion or an issue, just take it one step at a time.


How do you identify?
First Generation College Student


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
It was hard convincing my dad to let me go abroad because it was expensive and he did not understand the benefit having never been to college himself.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Be proud of all of your firsts and do not let someone, even family, prevent you from following a dream or trying something new, different or risky.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
Oftentimes I turned to my best friend from home who has supported me my whole life. Coming from the same financial background, she brought me comfort when I felt alone or troubled abroad.