Limitations placed on overseas study no longer apply as the number of students studying abroad reaches pre-COVID statistics, allowing students to fully immerse themselves in other cultures whilst they finish their degree.

Studying abroad is a rite of passage for many students as they near the end of their university experience. While their ability to study overseas was hindered due to the pandemic, The University of Wollongong is one of many whose exchange programs are now back in full swing with more than 200 partnerships in 45 countries.

UOW’s student mobility coordinator, Michaela Morgan said that it was her study abroad experience as a student that allowed her to gain once-in-a-lifetime experiences and perspectives which she now uses within her role at UOW to help new students.

“Studying abroad was a very influential part of my life,” she said.

“I’ve loved being able to do a full circle and now help students facilitate their own exchange.

“There’s an element of personal growth, cross-cultural understanding and professional development you get from it that sets you aside from other students.”

These traits and experiences are just some of many that third-year American exchange student Myah Garza agreed was a beneficial part of the study abroad program.

“It’s all been so worth it,” Ms Garza said.

“The best thing has been gaining a new perspective. In America, it’s all very America-centered and we don’t really learn much about the rest of the world, so meeting international students and Australian students has really taught me a lot and opened my mind up a lot.

“Knowing that there’s so much more out there than what we’re limited to in one country is amazing, I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”

UOW students on exchange

Whilst studying abroad is recommended by many who are involved in the program, it’s not always so accessible or affordable for students who have financial difficulties.

According to Ms Morgan, however, there is more help available than students realise.

“There’s a lot of funding and grants available to facilitate exchange which is something not all students know about,” she said.

“If travelling to the Asia-Pacific region, the government offers grants as part of the New Colombo Plan (NCP) where students can receive up to $8000 to facilitate their exchange.

“Our office gives travel grants as well to facilitate exchange, and students can apply for an OS-Help loan from the government, so if financial concerns are a bit of a barrier for students, there are definitely ways of facilitating their exchange.”

Both Ms Garza and Ms Morgan agreed that the study abroad program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which they would urge anyone who is able to apply for.

Applications are now open for the study abroad spring session in 2024. There are also a number of short course programs running between 2-8 weeks in duration during semester breaks.

The Global Student Mobility team is available at Student Central Monday to Friday to assist students with any questions about the program.

They can also be contacted on +61 2 4221 5400.