Tell us about yourself…
My name is Aria and I’m from Australia. I grew up in a small town called Byron Bay on the East Coast with my mother and sister. Moving away from home for university filled me with a mixture of nerves and excitement.
Where did you decide to study?
I’d always dreamt of travelling to the United States, and I wanted to remain in an English speaking country. I chose to study Management at George Mason University - because I’ve always been interested in marketing and advertising, and from my research this was a good route into that field. I’m pretty creative and wanted to put my skills to use in a work environment one day.
What was it like when you first arrived in the US?
At first I felt a little bit alone, as I didn’t know anyone at all. But, as soon as I arrived at the INTO centre I was made to feel really welcome. Everything was so big; the portion sizes, the houses, the cars. It was all so fast paced and different to my small laidback hometown. But I remember the overall emotion was excitement. I was really excited to be there – what an opportunity!
What was the biggest difference?
One of the biggest things was the American phrases, they were so different to Australian phrases, even though the language was the same. “For the birds”, and “shoot the breeze” were just a couple that have stuck with me. Over time they became second nature. Of course, I taught my new friends some typical Australian phrases in return, such as “arvo” and “barbie”!
Tell us how you settled in…
I started to bond with other students in the kitchen of my student dorm. We all loved to cook, and so I really started to come out of my shell. One hot summer’s day I organised a typical Australian barbeque, and it went down a treat. All of the rooms at George Mason are shared and I was lucky enough to share with a girl called Maria, who was from Uruguay. I’d never met anyone from South America before; it was great to experience not only the US culture, but cultures from all around the world.
What tips would you give to other students thinking about studying in the United States?
Don’t miss out. It was the best experience of my life. The culture shock at first was a little overwhelming, and of course I felt homesick every now and then, but I Skyped my family every week. With support from my teachers and the friends I made, I started to feel like George Mason was my second home, and I made the most amazing memories. Take a leap of faith - you can do it too!