D'Youville Student Gillian Wittig Explores the Land Down Under
D'Youville: How did you apply to become a CAPA Global Education Network ambassador?
Wittig: My advisor at CAPA had reached out to all of the students who studied abroad last semester and asked if they would be interested in encouraging others to study abroad as well. I knew that I wanted to share my passion for studying abroad. I filled out an application and submitted it through CAPA.
D'Youville: What was your reaction when your application was accepted?
Wittig: I was very excited to see that my application got accepted. I truly believe my experience of studying abroad changed my life and want others to have this same incredible once in a lifetime opportunity! Even if I could just inspire one person to do so, it would be worth it.
D'Youville: When was your trip to Australia?
Wittig: I studied abroad in the spring of 2017. I left on January 16th and returned on April 23rd.
D'Youville: What was something you weren’t expecting about your time in Australia?
Wittig: The people were incredibly friendly, everyone went out of their way to be helpful. One time when I wasn’t sure where I was going, a lady offered to walk me all the way there! Everyone says "hi" to one another and is just very pleasant.
D'Youville: What was the most life-changing part of the experience in Australia for
you and your takeaway from being there?
Wittig: Before going abroad in Sydney, I had never been away from home. I don’t even live in the residence halls at D'Youville. I am also very close with my family and am in a serious relationship, so naturally, I was so afraid of being homesick. I became more independent while I was abroad. I know it is cliché to say, but I did “find myself.” Going abroad pushed me outside of my comfort zone in so many ways and made me a better person in the process.
D'Youville: What connections did you make in Australia?
Wittig: I made so many friends while I was away! I honestly think these people will be lifelong friends as well. My roommate Danielle and I instantly became very close, and I met two other friends, Aby and Sidonie, with whom we spent a lot of time together. For all of us to be in the same circumstances outside of our comfort zones gave us a quick connection. We all ended up traveling together throughout the trip and keep in touch even today!
D'Youville: What would you say to a student considering applying to study abroad?
Wittig: Don't be afraid and just go for it! If you have any interest whatsoever, make it happen because you will not regret it. There are three things students tend to worry about: money, time, and homesickness. As far as money goes, there are plenty of scholarships offered through D'Youville and CAPA, part of the study abroad program.
If you are hesitant to take out a loan, just remember that this is an experience that you will have the rest of your life and it will change you in so many ways. It is still going to be a heck of a lot cheaper to have this type of experience now than it would be to do it down the road. If you are worried about time, D’Youville will do an amazing job of working with you to make sure all of your credits transfer properly.
The most important thing is to tell your advisor as soon as you’re interested, make sure the trip and your study will work around your schedule. Lastly, homesickness is something that everyone worries about. Before studying abroad, I had never really been away from home. I’m a commuter! If I can do it, anyone can! Everyone else who is there will be in the same situation as you and as long as you keep busy, homesickness is not a concern. The time flies by so fast!
D'Youville: How will you be applying what you learned in Australia to your studies
Wittig: As an international business major, I will apply a lot of the skills I learned while traveling. While Australia is an English-speaking country, one still develops a better understanding of how different cultures do things. I gained skills in traveling, cultural competence, organizational abilities, and numerous takeaways from my internship in the sales and marketing at an international hotel called the Novotel.
D'Youville: What are your plans when you graduate?
Wittig: To be completely honest I am not sure yet. It is changing daily! I think that I am interested in the sales side of things, but I do not know for sure. If there is one thing I do know for sure, it is that I would love to continue to explore this amazing world we live in and will make travel a major part of my life and career.
Follow Gillian's Study Abroad Adventures Through Photos
Posing with my new friends in front of the Sydney Opera House.
Up close to nature during the Feather Dale Wildlife Preserve day trip.
Taking a selfie with a kangaroo during the Feather Dale Wildlife Preserve day trip.
At the CAPA-organized rugby game with my mates!
At the Monkey Sanctuary in Bali, Indonesia.
My best friends that I made in Sydney!
At the top of Roy’s Peak in New Zealand.
Feeding a giraffe at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.
In front of the Sydney Opera House.
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