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Madeleine McCluer

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Biology BS
Program: University of Wollongong
Location: Wollongong, Australia
Term: 2020 Year


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I have always wanted to live abroad and what better time than now?! Studying, living, and learning who I am seemed like a great way to experience life abroad. Personally, I am not a huge fan of big cities, but love to visit them, so choosing Wollongong was so easy. It is only an hour away from Sydney, it is on the beach and at the foot of the mountains, so it was the perfect choice for me.


What did you learn about yourself?
This experienced made me really get to know myself better and completely be myself. I found that I have a love for all things outdoors in Australia. Whether it is hiking, swimming, scuba diving, sky diving, star-gazing, or walking the streets, I was in my element. Meeting people from completely different backgrounds and learning their stories are some of my most cherished memories. These people helped me learn about different cultures and ways of living, and I found that I am very passionate about learning first hand what all of that is to people. I found myself going on adventures I never would have thought of because of the people that I had met and become friends with. I discovered that my home is not necessarily where I grew up, but it is where the people I care about and who care about me are, and I was lucky enough to find that through this experience. I am lucky enough to be able to call Wollongong a home away from home, including a family of friends that I will have forever.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories of the program was just after my first semester had ended and I went along with some of my friends up the East Coast. We camped by the beaches along the way up to Byron Bay. We got to see so many Aussie must's and even though it was Winter, we were still able to enjoy the beaches! Some of the people I went with I had never met before, but because of that trip I was able to make new friends and get out of my comfort zone. Being able to get away from our devices and really taking in all that our trip had to offer lead to some of the most amazing times of my life.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
My advice is to embrace the uncertainties. I can almost guarantee that there will be some along the way, but if you embrace them, they can lead to some of the most incredible experiences. By accepting that there will be uncertainties and embracing them, you will be able to decide how you want to face them with a more clear mind. Don't let them stop you and don't let them hinder your experience, there are people there for you to help you get past anything you face and let them help you. Reaching out to people can be one of the most helpful things you can do.