How Study Abroad Supports Career Development – A Student’s Perspective

Khadijah Fatty, one of our awesome graduating Peer Career Advisors, studied abroad in Australia during this past fall semester. She shares with us how study abroad has helped her prepare for life after graduation!

The spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)

Where and when did you study abroad?
I studied at the University of Wollongong in Australia in the Summer/Fall of 2022.

Exploring the Blue Mountains in Australia. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)

What made you decide to study abroad?
I always knew this was something I wanted to do. Growing up, I was told college was my only option (immigrant parent words of wisdom!). I knew that I wanted to make my college experience memorable, and the notion of living abroad semi-permanently was something I always desired. I wanted to go abroad, but I didn’t know if I would be able to take all of my required coursework. That didn’t stop me though!!! By studying aboard, I wanted to confirm my belief that I could locate to another country, build a life there, and enjoy it. Until the day I left, it was an adventure for me, and I was sad to leave.

The Three Sisters rock formation at the Blue Mountains. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)

What did you learn about yourself after living in a different culture for a semester?
After living aboard for a semester, I knew that I could adapt. Even though New York City is so diverse, this was still a different country abroad, and the University of Wollongong had a lot of diversity from the international students that attended there. Meeting people from all over the world and living with them, interacting, having fun, and taking classes together gives you a new cultural perspective. I learned that my ties in both countries will remain with me even if I leave. I also learned how to take risks since everything is fleeting. Get out of your comfort zone and go for every opportunity because it might lead to something amazing. Make those connections with other international students, and join clubs and organizations. I honestly can’t wait for my next adventure, and I can’t wait for the day I relocate semi/permanently to another country.

Experiencing her first rodeo with her friends in Australia. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)
Encountering a koala at the zoo in Australia. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)

How do you think studying abroad has prepared you for the professional working environment once you graduate?
Most of the professional development skills I gained have been from my countless work experiences. However, Australia allowed me to build upon these acquired skills. I was taught to think critically through the assignments, constant class discussions, and teamwork. You are forced to become more interculturally aware by seeing things from different perspectives. For example, they were very big on looking at world events and expected students to know about the political structure and international affairs. Studying abroad allowed me to confront the disparities in my education in the U.S. vs. Australia. It really taught me to be accountable for the work I turned in. Study abroad further strengthened me to live independently, adapt, problem-solve, hone my intercultural communication, and be resourceful and reliable. I think all of these skills are what employers look for when hiring a potential candidate.

Participating in a U.N. Peacekeeping simulation in one of her classes at the University of Wollogong. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)

What advice and/or encouragement would you give to other students who are thinking about studying abroad?
GO FOR IT!!! I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from living the one dream I had. Who knows what this journey can bring for you? You have an opportunity to see how other parts of the world work. I understand how big of a role finances play in this. I pay for college by myself, and I understood the burden I was taking. I can still say I don’t regret it today. So if you can financially study aboard, go. Find a program that is within your budget and go. When you are in a new country, definitely leave your house, a room will always be there, but the memories you could’ve made will not.

Making pottery at the University of Wollongong. (Courtesy of Khadijah Fatty)

If you’re interested in studying abroad, make an appointment with the Education Abroad Office to see what your options may be!

By Megumi Kim (she/her)
Megumi Kim (she/her)