Dominique's Blog

Photo of Dominique Cook
Junior (MAE class of 2019)
Architectural Engineering
Verdigre, NE

Australia Flag Australia

October 25, 2016
Different. The one word I kept hearing as I was preparing to study abroad. Different location, different school, different country, different professors and about everything else people could come up with would be different. Different. Abnormal. Weird. things that you aren’t used to. Yes, things here in Australia are different. The country, the town, the school, the people, even the English language are all different. But there are things that are the same.

I have seen past the difference between the two schools and I have started to see the similarities. As I am writing this, I’m sitting in the campus library on a Sunday night. I look up from my laptop and look around. First I see rows upon rows of books. Textbooks, references books and other types of books organized neatly all ready for a student to pull off the shelf. I also see students like myself preparing for next week’s classes. Reading textbooks and completing homework while listening to music on headphones - definitely things that I have done before and thousands of other college students do around the world. Even though it is Sunday night, there are still quite a few people, though not as maybe as the last times I ventured into the library on weekday afternoons just like the library at home.

In class, there are some very similar things that happen. So similar, in fact, that it is almost eerie. When I had my first test in one of my classes, it was in week five. You would think that if people were going to be in the class, they would have showed up to lecture long before this. But on the test day, the normal 40 people were all there, and people just kept walking in. So the classroom that before this was mostly empty turned out to be full, not one seat left. A few people still trickled into the room. Looking around the room, I was seeing faces that I had never seen in class before, students waiting to take the same test as me - the girl who has been to every class. The late comers had to search the hallways and empty rooms to find seats that they could bring into the room. In my engineering classes back in the States, I would have never tried to do anything like that. But in those pesky general education classes, I saw the same thing. Half the class doesn’t show up for regular class sessions, but they all show up for test day. Different country, different school, but it’s the same thing.

August 10, 2016
I’m Dominique Cook, and I am studying abroad as an exchange student at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. I’m an Architectural Engineering junior on the Omaha campus. I’m originally from Verdigre, NE which is in the northeast part of the state. My house is about an hour from the South Dakota border. I didn’t start traveling until I was a sophomore in high school, but that was all within the United States and never by myself. The first time I went abroad was to Italy last summer with Dr. Ece Erdogmus, faculty in the Architectural Engineering program. She said at the beginning of the trip that either we would catch the traveling bug or we would never leave our homes again. I definitely caught the traveling bug.

Study abroad, for me, is way to see some of the world with a safety net if I need it. Which hopefully, I won’t. When you study abroad, you have the people in your home university there to help you set everything up and give you tips for handling stuff when you get there. When you arrive at your host university, there is a team to help you get adjusted into the university and city itself. Also, for me, it is a stepping stone for my career. I would love to work internationally once I graduate, and studying abroad sets me apart from my peers.

So you might ask: Why Australia? It came down to three simple things. The first factor for me was that classes had to be taught in English. I don’t know another language, so that limited my search. By the time that I decided that I wanted to study abroad in the fall, it was getting late and many deadlines had passed, so that raised my second criteria: the program I would apply to needed to have a late deadline. Third was that they had to have classes related to my major. Architectural Engineering is hard to find, so I was even open to Civil, Mechanical, or even Electrical Engineering as long as there was classes that I needed to take offered. Victoria University offered me all of that. For me, I didn’t really care where I went. As long as the program met my criteria, I was up for it. I knew wherever I ended up would be very different then my little hometown and even Omaha.

I arrived in Melbourne about a month ago, on July 14th. I had ten days off before classes started. I got my apartment arranged and got to know the area around my apartment and the university a little. My apartment is right across the street from the university. I also finished getting my Australian bank account set up, so I wouldn’t get hit with a bunch of foreign transaction fees on my US bank account. I had to get an Australian phone number which resulted in me getting a cheap prepaid phone. I plan to fly out late November just in time for Thanksgiving but that will depend on how I do on my finals. If I have to retake a final, I will have to push my departure date back a week or two.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about my adventures in Australia with you. Stay tuned for more.

Photo of My home building for the next four months
My home for the next four months

Photo of the Victoria University Engineering Building
Victoria University Engineering Building