Mikaela Larkin

Departure Date:
Feb. 2012
Return Date:
Jun. 01 2012
Local Institution:
Oberlin College
Local Advisor:
Dan Stinebring
Foreign Institution:
University of Tasmania
Foreign Advisor:
John Dickey
Student Status:
Undergraduate
  • Q. What country were you staying in? Australia, in Sandy Bay (a suburb of Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania)
  • Q. What university were you attending/doing research at? University of Tasmania
  • Q. How long were you there? was abroad for five months.
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing? took a normal course load with two physics classes, including a third year electromagnetism class and an experimental astrophysics class. I went with the intention of doing research, but there was a problem with the telescope.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing? Experimental astrophysics was not offered at Oberlin. Because I studied at the University of Tasmania, I was able to gain experience using two telescopes, one radio and one optical, for different projects.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad? The Tasmanians call it ‘bushwhacking,’ but Americans would call it hiking. I did a ton of it. Every weekend, I would be on a bushwhacking trip. I got to see almost the entire state.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language? can’t be bothered/stuffed.” It means “screw that.” I often used it to describe my feelings for tedious assignments.
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad? was really expensive, and it was really hard to be away from friends and home. Culturally, it wasn’t too different from the US. The lectures and exams we took were a different format from home, so that was also hard to get used to.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time? took an Aboriginal studies class, which was super interesting. I also studied, did physics, and took observations.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or done while abroad? There was an amazing market in Hobart. They sold everything like food, produce, clothes, souvenirs. I really felt like it was a much healthier place. Even the air seemed cleaner at the market, and it felt pure.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen or done while abroad? don’t understand people’s obsession with Vegemite. They put it on everything and eat it by the spoonful. It’s disgusting.
  • Q. What advice would you offer others going abroad? matter where you go, be very proactive about putting yourself out there and doing things. It’s easy to do the normal things. It’s a lot harder to make an effort to get out of your comfort zone. Do something that scares you everyday.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad? learned early on to approach strangers with higher authority like professors. It was hard in a place where I don’t know people very well and needed to ask for help. I’m pretty independent, but being in Tasmania meant I got a lot better at paying bills and managing a household. I lived in house with six people. Two were from France, one was from Denmark, one was from India, one was from Malaysia, and another from the US. None of them spoke English well, so my communication skills are super now.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known? feel like I did what I wanted to do. I wish that I would have spent less time worrying about work. I had a lot of work, and I came abroad wanting to travel and explore. The workload with the cultural experience was a lot at once. I would get upset if I was in the library all day because I felt like it was something I could do at home. In the end, after everything, I’m really proud of what I did accomplish there. I did four pretty major, substantial projects. I feel like I did a really good job as well as taking advantage of being in another country in another hemisphere on the opposite side of the world.