Beth steps outside her comfort zone in San Francisco

In her second year of her degree, History and Social Justice student Beth decided she was ready for a challenge and started looking into Notre Dame’s Study Abroad program.

Beth pursued her dream and applied to study a semester of her degree at the University of San Francisco (USF). She was delighted to hear that her application was successful and after going through the process of sorting flights, visas, and opening the lines of communication to USF, Beth finally touched down in San Francisco [in 2015], home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Silicon Valley, and frequent rolling blankets of summer fog that settle over the City.

Beth admits that she had to adjust to her new uni life at USF, but found the small class sizes to be a familiar dose of Notre Dame life.

“It’s was hard being away from home but being in San Francisco I had the opportunity to do so many things that I wouldn’t have the chance to do in Australia. I loved my classes as they gave me a chance to learn about US history and culture and also social problems that interest me such as feminism and race issues.”

“My experience was challenging and rewarding. From trying to adapt to dorm life and keeping up with all my readings to getting to experience all that California has to offer, such as having a day trip to Sausalito, it was an amazing time!”

Coming from Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, and heading over to San Francisco to study can be a shock to the system for some people. Beth had the advantage of having travelled extensively before making the move and drew from her movie and television watching experience to fill in the blanks.

“Everyone is so nice over there, and I knew a lot about America going in so there wasn’t as much of a culture shock, especially San Francisco as it’s such a progressive place.

“I met lots of new people from all over the world, which allowed me to experience different cultures, different ways of thinking and make new friends.”

Whilst in America, Beth took it upon herself to explore as much as she could, visiting Yosemite National Park, Portland, Seattle, the Bay Area, and Berkley to name a few.

Travelling to San Francisco to live long-term taught Beth some important life lessons and gave her a “taste of what it is like to be an adult”. Beth has since returned to Notre Dame’s Fremantle Campus to complete her degree and has some sage words of advice for any students thinking of undertaking a study abroad experience while at Notre Dame.

Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone, because that’s when the good stuff happens. Also, don’t compare yourself against other people, you need to forget about what other exchange experiences are like and just have your own exchange experience.

Find out more about Notre Dame’s Study Abroad program.