My name is Lauren Oppenheimer, a social worker in the making. This path began years ago when I decided I wanted a future in bettering the lives of others. I am from Louisville, Kentucky but am currently studying in Gold Coast, Australia at the University of Griffith. I have loved to travel and experience new things ever since I can remember. Studying abroad seemed to be the best way to experience other parts of the world.
Choosing Australia was easy, a place far from home where I could communicate and bond with locals. I had no idea how truly beautiful this experience would be. Not only am I now able to understand the perspectives of others outside of America, but I am able to understand that people are very proud of their origins, no matter where they may be. I also have gained a better understanding that different cultures all have their own way of doing things that work well for them. For Australia, the biggest difference that I have noticed is that they prioritize things such as the environment and family above everything else. This is a tradition I hope to bring back with me to the United States.
This semester I am taking Ethics and Professional Practice, Counseling Psychology, and a Painting Outdoors class, all of which are counting towards my Social Work major or Art Studio minor. My ethics class is very interesting–is it amazing to see how social workers have the same priorities across the world yet they operate under different policies. I am learning about different social issues and policies that impact Australia and people worldwide. The class seems to be very universal, discussing not only Australian policies, but also the policies United States and other countries. We spend a considerable amount of time discussing situations involving same sex marriage; I find it particularly interesting since it was recently legalized in the United States.
Beyond the classroom, I have experienced amazing things! I went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, hiked mountains, painted beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, white water rafted through rivers with volcanic rock and even learned to surf in Surfers Paradise. This semester abroad has been educational and a huge opportunity for travel and personal growth. I have never been this far from home but while I am here I hope to travel all that I can. During spring break, I will be visiting Thailand. I am also taking a trip to New Zealand at the end of the semester.
For anyone even slightly considering studying abroad, I would highly recommend Australia, or anywhere else you are driven to go. You’d be surprised at the many similarities and differences people can have half way across the world. I am currently living in paradise while I gain college credits. I have had so many opportunities to grow and experience a world I never could have imagined.
Lauren Oppenheimer is a junior from Louisville, Kentucky in the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program pursuing a major in Social Work and minor in Art Studio. Above she shares about her experience this semester studying abroad in Australia.