Australia

Jeno Singson graduated from the University of Iowa this spring with a degree in marketing. He was a recipient of the Diversity Ambassador Scholarship for Study Abroad, which applied toward a yearlong program at Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia. Identifying as not only Asian but also a member of the LGBT community, Jeno made it his personal goal to be a role model for other Asian LGBT minorities as well as people of color. The following is a reflection by Jeno on his time abroad.

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I could dedicate much more than one blog to the process of going home, and the reverse culture shock that is often experienced upon returning. I went through a whirlwind of emotions during this time, each coming in different waves and phases. Having now been back in the States for a month, I would like to think I am finally fully adjusted to my old life. Yet, an old life that is so different. Over the past month, I have had a lot of time to think about my experiences, and would argue that returning home has nearly been as much of a learning process as my study abroad experience itself. Here is a list of my top 5 conclusions I have come to during my critical period of reflection

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The day I left Newcastle, Australia after 5 life-changing months, was truly one I will never forget. I had dreaded that day since the moment I stepped foot on campus in mid-February. While packing up all of my clothes and stuffing them back into the one suitcase I brought was definitely not enjoyable, and it was going through the souvenirs I had accumulated over the past few months that hit me the hardest...As I took what would now be my very last train from Newcastle to Sydney, I reminisced on those very moments, and began to prepare myself for what lay ahead… reuniting with my family in Sydney!

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Since I have been traveling around Australia, I have met quite a few people who enjoy traveling on their own. I am not one of these people, although for many reasons, I wish I was.

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There is really no right or wrong way for going about the study abroad experience. Everyone here has come on different circumstances, with different likes, dislikes, goals, and dreams. It is important that each person’s journey reflect these differences, differences that make us who we are. This has been one of the most significant lessons I have learned here, and one that not only applies to being abroad, but also life in general.

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One of the most interesting, and eye-opening, parts of the study abroad experience is being able to view the United States from the lens of a different country. Just two short months before I left for Australia, the Sydney hostage crisis bombarded all of the news. Shortly after, I received a frightening email from the United States government, advising all U.S. citizens traveling there to take extra precautions. This was the very first moment I was able to wrap my head around the fact that I was about to be living in a different country, one very far from my security blanket I had here.

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I have just gotten back from my two-week journey down the east coast of Australia. Despite the extreme lack of sleep, fast-food diet, and lighter wallet, it was truly the best experience of my life. I am a true believer that some of the greatest lessons take place outside of the classroom, and even more so on a long road trip in a foreign country. In order to accurately give some advice to young travels about to partake on a similar venture, I’m going to give my lessons some structure by ordering them as a list.

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One of the most significant aspects of studying abroad is seeing everything you possibly can, while learning and growing every step of the way. After getting settled into my new life at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, I was quickly ready to get out there and begin seeing all the things I had spent months pinning on Pinterest. After all, my parents were beginning to wonder what exactly I was getting out of spending day after day at the beach.

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I have been at the University of Newcastle, in New South Wales, Australia for nearly three weeks already, and yet I continue to wake up most mornings in awe that this is actually my life. I prepared for this journey for quite some time; making and saving money, meeting deadlines for paperwork, and doing lots of research. To finally be here, literally on the other side of the world, can at times be hard to grasp.

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Thanks to the support of generous private donors, these UI students were able to study or conduct research abroad in the past year, gaining invaluable experiences and memories that enhanced their education and lives.

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