Lessons Learned Down Under



Casale chose Australia because she wanted to study abroad in a country she’d never get to visit otherwise.


What do you do when New York isn’t enough? Students study abroad for many reasons — Maddy Casale, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’20, wanted change. While some venture across the pond, Casale trekked down under, through a non-Fordham study abroad program at the University of Melbourne. With a semester on the other side of the world from Lincoln Center, Casale talked to us about the lessons she learned abroad and the transition upon returning:

Why did you decide to study abroad?

At Fordham, I’ve found friends I love and school clubs that make me really happy and groups in the city where I feel like I belong. But, I was beginning to notice how small Fordham is and how I was getting stuck in the same routines. I wanted to switch things up and meet new people. I knew that it was definitely the right move for me to get out of NYC and Fordham and into the unknown on the other side of the world. When I’m scared to do something, it means I probably should do it. 

How did you pick your program?

I was dead-set on going to University of Melbourne, which Fordham doesn’t offer, so I applied to go with an external program. My program coordinator was helpful in working with me to make sure credits would transfer. Because I went with an outside program, I’ve met people from all different schools, so now I’ll have lifelong friends in Australia! 

What is the most important lesson that you learned while abroad?

Make local friends! So many people who study abroad become close with the others in their program, which I’ve done as well, but you will get so much out of the experience if you try making friends with people local to the area. They have an insider perspective and will be your friends and allies for life. It might be hard to make local friends, so I highly recommend joining as many clubs as possible and putting yourself out there. 

Knowing what you know now, do you have any advice for those that are preparing to study abroad?

If it’s financially possible for you, take the leap. I get very anxious when I start something new, so in the beginning I was a wreck. Once I got over the initial homesickness, I never looked back. The only time you should limit yourself is with money budgeting is very important, especially if you want to both eat and go on trips.

How was the transition back to Fordham?

The first week back was really hard. It took me 40 hours total to get home to Pittsburgh from Melbourne before heading straight to NYC for summer classes. I felt overwhelmed by the city and its stress, and I didn’t want to be around anyone or do anything. But I had considerate friends who got me out of my room. Once I got busier, I fell back into the rhythm of the city and didn’t have time to wallow in post-abroad depression. Now I feel pretty well-adjusted back to everything!

Has what you learned abroad changed the way you’re going into this school year?

It’s really easy to get caught up in NYC and its stressful, “go go go” mentality. However, going abroad helped me realize that taking time for yourself to enjoy life on your own is not a waste of time. I am trying to adopt the Australian “no worries” mentality, and while I still struggle with it, I think I’ve improved in worrying less about things I can’t control. Instead, I’m trying to focus on having fun and enjoying whatever time I have left at Fordham with the people I love, because the world is big, so who knows where I’ll be this time next year. Also, I definitely need to eat a little less and exercise a little more.