WLU student in Australia

By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor

This summer, West Liberty University sent Hilltoppers off to many countries around the world to study, learn, and travel to global destinations far removed from the Ohio Valley. These world travelers return to school this fall with their amazing stories, experiences, and pictures to share with the rest of the West Liberty community.

This week, WLU Junior Alexa Dorris shares the story of her journey, “down under,” in Sydney, Australia.

The Dental Hygiene student Alexa Dorris spent seven weeks studying abroad in Australia, through CAPA, an international education organization affiliated with WLU.

The trip took place between May 26 and July 12. During her stay, Alexa lived in student apartments in Waterloo, Australia which she says is about a ten-minute train ride from North Sydney where she took her classes.

While abroad Alexa said she was able to earn six college credit hours for taking two classes, one in business and one on exploring a global city.

But her learning also extended outside of the classroom. During her stay, Alexa was thoroughly immersed in and learned a lot about Australian culture as well as city life. “The culture shock was a surprise for me,” she admitted. “I didn’t expect to feel so out of place and to actually not understand simple things like what side of the sidewalk to walk on!”

“My trip taught me so much more than I had ever expected,” Alexa said. “It taught me how to live in a city, handle myself in big crowds, and about life in a different country. This trip changed me as a person. I am now more confident, smarter with my decisions, and I have life-long friends all over the country.”

Life in Australia wasn’t all studying and learning. Through the CAPA organization, Alexa got the chance to see and experience parts of Australia that many Hilltoppers can only dream about.

Among her many adventures, Alexa had the opportunity to hike through the Blue Mountains, spend time with free-roaming kangaroos and koalas at Australia’s Walkabout Park, and tour the Olympic Park where the 2000 Summer Olympics were held. She witnessed breathtaking aerial views of the Sydney cityscape and North Wallongong Beach when she climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and went skydiving over the beach. “I never thought in my wildest dreams I would go skydiving in Australia and nothing can ever replace that feeling.”

She added that overall the food was healthier in Australia than it is in America. “All the markets were fresh and there was a protein shop on every corner,” she said. “Even the McDonald’s, or Mackers as the Aussie’s called it, were better and healthier than it is here, and the menu is different!”

Dorris also said she figured out while abroad that Americans, “Are a lot louder than we think, and we invade personal space,” compared to the people she met in Australia.

Alexa first learned about her opportunity to study abroad through an email for an interest meeting from Beverly Burke and she encourages any student interested to take advantage of the study abroad opportunities that are out there. “My advice to any Hilltoppers thinking about studying abroad is to 100 percent do it! It’s life changing for all the right reasons,” said Dorris.

She advises to prepare and save money well in advance of setting off on any adventure abroad. She added, “The experiences you will get while you are there, although they may be expensive, I promise are worth it.”