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Alexa Cardoso

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: EXSS/Portuguese/Neuroscience
Program: University of Wollongong Australia
Location: Wollongong, Australia
Term: Spring 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I knew coming into college that I wanted to study abroad. But as my schedule got busy and things got crazy, it got pushed to the back burner. Finally, before my Junior year started, I made it a priority and it was the best thing I could have done. I chose Australia because I am passionate about environmental conservation, which Australia prioritizes, and it was a place I always wanted to visit. Quite literally on the other side of the world, this was the perfect opportunity. I chose the University of Wollongong because it's exercise science program fit my academic goals perfectly. In addition, it was in a location and environment that stepped me out of my comfort zone, but I knew I could thrive in.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I can be prepared for anything. Between flight delays, scheduling issues, and the occasional language barrier (Australian slang is ridiculous), I realized that I can take everything in stride and find a solution. I didn't know anyone in my program, but I quickly made lifelong friends. This experience greatly helped my confidence in myself and my abilities to navigate the world.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
I was traveling the east coast of Australia with a few friends I had made, taking Greyhound buses and staying at youth hostels. One morning, in Byron Bay, we decided to go watch the sunrise at the Byron lighthouse, the most easterly point of mainland Australia. This is the first place in the world to see the sun each morning. We had watched countless sunrises before this down in Wollongong, but somehow this one was different. I was with friends that I had only known for a few months, but will be connected with for life. In this moment I realized how lucky I was to have this opportunity and this experience.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Say yes to everything. Take every opportunity. Travel to places you can't pronounce. Go watch a game of a sport you've never heard of (check out AFL if you're in Australia). Take that class that just sounds cool. Talk to everyone in your hostel, they have pretty great stories. Overcome that language barrier. Do everything you can.


Would you do it again?


How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
My study abroad experience bettered me in my ability to work with and relate to people from different backgrounds and cultures. I've always considered myself to be pretty adaptable, but being 10,000 miles away taught me a whole new definition of the word. I gained a new sense of independence and learned to trust in my abilities, which I can translate to my future career.