Daniela Carlucci was completing an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at McMaster University when she spent a semester at the University of Sydney as an exchange student.
“I’ve been travelling since I was young, but I had never considered studying abroad until I spoke to a former exchange student during my undergraduate degree,” she explains.
“I simply adored Australia so I decided to go back and do a Master’s degree.”
She returned to Sydney in March of 2013.
Arriving in Australia
Daniela quickly settled into an on-campus studio apartment at the University of Sydney, a housing arrangement which helped her save money.
Though she is no stranger to travel, Daniela admits she felt a little lonely at first.
“The most difficult challenge for me was homesickness, since being away from family and friends can take an emotional toll when you’re stressed or worn out,” Daniela says. “Although I have made some lifelong friends in Australia, there really is no place like home.”
“That’s where a good phone plan and Skype come in!”
Her new location was a particularly good choice, as Daniela found herself surrounded by friendly and welcoming people.
“Australians and Canadians seem to have an affinity for one another, which makes it easy to adapt,” she says.
Daniela was soon busy completing a Master of Media Practice degree, which covered a range of courses, including News Writing, International Media Practice, Online Journalism and Legal and Ethical Issues in Media Practice.
While many travelers anticipate a certain amount of culture shock upon arriving at their chosen destination, the biggest surprise Daniela faced during her time abroad was inside the classroom.
“Although I have always performed well academically, I found it difficult to achieve the same grades in Australia as I had in Canada,” she says.
While Daniela was used to a system where a 75% represented an “average” mark, in Australia that same grade is considered an accomplishment in the Australian system.
“I had to work harder to achieve the grades I was used to,” she adds.
It’s an important reminder that travel can pose unexpected challenges in the most unlikely places.
Daniela completed her degree in November of 2013.
“One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had during my time abroad was graduating from the University of Sydney,” she says. “Looking back on what I had achieved both personally and professionally was highly rewarding and gave me a real sense of accomplishment.”
That satisfaction is part of why she’s so enthusiastic about the merits of travelling abroad.
“Traveling not only allows you to grow as an individual, but also provides you with opportunities you might not have otherwise,” she says.
The challenges she’s faced abroad – from adjusting to a different grading system to homesickness – have caused a major shift in perspective.
“Traveling abroad has taught me a number of things about myself and what I am capable of,” she says. “Prior to this experience, I lived at home and relied on my parents a lot.”
“Living abroad has required me to become self-sufficient,” Daniela explains.
“While there were tough moments, I know that I am better for the experience.”
Tips from a traveller
“One of the biggest misconceptions students have about traveling abroad is that it is too difficult,” says Daniela. “Traveling is much easier than you might expect.”
She’s got a few pieces of expert advice:
Do your research: “Learn as much as you can prior to departure to avoid any unpleasant surprises.”
Seize every opportunity: “Take full advantage of the unique experiences studying abroad offers.”
Be flexible: “You may encounter setbacks during your time abroad, but learning to adapt is the key to overcoming them.”
Today, Daniela is a Centre Marketing Representative at the YMCA in Sydney, putting her skills to work to complete diverse tasks in online communications, social media, lead generation planning and more.
She plans to pursue a career in digital communications, and is rounding out her professional experience with a social media role with the Worldwide Universities Network.
“Traveling abroad has definitely changed my personal and professional plans,” Daniela explains. “Having seen how much Australia has to offer, I am looking forward to exploring more opportunities abroad.”
Studying and working abroad will be a major asset in pursuing her future career plans.
“International work experience demonstrates important qualities like independence, maturity and adaptability, while also giving you a global perspective,” Daniela says. “Those skills are very attractive to employers who operate internationally.”
Besides being a more capable hire, she’s thrilled with the range of options before her.
“I am confident that my experience abroad will give me an advantage when applying for jobs, no matter where I eventually choose to settle down.”