Since launching our first overseas study program in 2007, we have been collecting feedback from participants to help us improve all our programs and services. In the mix of comments about the various lecturers, site visits, and cultural activities, we've been very lucky to have received praises, along with some incredibly touching life-changing stories that have taken place as a result of the program. Some of the stories and testimonials we have received are so special, it would be a crime not to share them with you. Enjoy!
“I had the wonderful opportunity to explore the world of Conflict Transformation in Belfast Northern Ireland in June/July 2019. I have never been the same since the day I started on my own learning journey. Everything becomes more exciting, more influential and more important. Not only have I felt a shift in how I take in information through study, but I have also seen a great difference in me as a person. I’ve learnt to take in everything around me and question everything. My personal life has seen intense changes since I’ve returned with my once lonely self being pushed to explore anything I can to just find my place in the world. AIM offered me a trip overseas but instead gave me a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. I will forever be grateful for the experience and the spark ignited into my everyday life.”
Demi Jasper, Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland program (July 2019), Griffith University
In 2017, while I was in my third and final year at La Trobe University, I decided to apply for a short-term overseas course with AIM Overseas. I’d heard great things about it, had wanted to study overseas for as long as I could remember and, quite frankly, didn’t want to waste another winter break working.
Considering my love of beauty, fashion, and hot summers, I applied for the Fashion Events and Public Relations program held in Florence, Italy for that coming June-July. It was only going to be a three-week program, but the program promised delicious gelato – and trust me, the gelato is nothing like the gelati we have here; it’s better – a beautiful city to study in, and the opportunity to meet new people.
The best part of it was that AIM Overseas really delivered! I felt like Hilary Duff in the Lizzie McGuire Movie, waiting for a slightly more handsome Paolo to come and sweep me off my feet, force me to sing in front of a stage audience, and run through the Tivoli Gardens (even though I was in Firenze and not Roma – but hey, a girl can dream right?).
In all seriousness, I cite the trip as one of the most influential, incredible and unforgettable experiences I’ve had to this day. Not only was I living in one of the oldest and most aesthetically-pleasing cities in the world – eating like a local, learning the language and attending an Italian design university – but I became friends with people from my three-year journey at La Trobe I’d barely spoken to before. They became my roommates, best friends, and my sisters, and I have the honour of still calling them friends.
As for the program itself, it was fantastic: the days were long, and we worked hard, but I got to actually run a PR and fashion event, and gain some proper work experience, which, if you can believe it, helped me get my job.
What I guess I’m trying to say is if you have the opportunity to do one of these programs… do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as forcing yourself to book the tickets so you can’t back out. Other times it’s a little more complicated. But when you consider that these trips are accredited to your degree, you’re allowed a grant from your school (La Trobe pulled through!), and you’re meeting people all the way across the world, it’s the most valuable and worthwhile experience you’ll ever have.
Natasha Sidiropoulos, Fashion Events & Public Relations program (July 2017), La Trobe University
Natasha (second from left) and friends in Florence
"The Immigrants, Human Rights and Society program in Mexico City has shown me more about the way the world works. It was an eye-opening experience to be able to see things through the perspective of refugees and displaced persons. It shows you to not always trust what you hear on TV or from certain politicians. However, the biggest impact it had on my life is that it showed me the direction I want to take in my life.
Before this trip, I always had an interest in travel and always knew that in the future, I could consider working in other countries. The thing is that the main focus on my mind was to stick to the safer option - thingking it would be best to just stay in Australia or even just in my city of Adelaide. There is nothing wrong with this and Australia has much to offer, that is undeniable. However, Mexico awakened a new passion in me.
When I went there, I did not quite know what to expect. In fact, I even reconsidered if I truly wanted to be there! Once I settled in and made some new friends from the local university, all they wanted to do was spend time with me - whether that was simply lunch at the university or having some drinks after class. I felt happy and at home in the most foreign place I've ever visited. Celebrating with new friends, being exposed to a new culture and seeing all it had to offer made me realise how big the world is.
Now that I am back, I have a new perspective. All of a sudden, the idea of exploring the world and chasing careers in foreign places is not as scary as it once was. My AIM Overseas course has shown me that staying in one place is like reading only one chapter of a book. It changed me because now, I can see that the world is my playground with limitless opportunities, and all I had to do was to take the first step. Studying in Mexico was my first step. I am now dreaming of what a career and life would look like in places such as Poland, Switzerland and the USA, even if it meant living in those places for a few years at a time. Essentially, this study trip gave me newfound perspective that there are no limits to life, and the only tru limits are the ones you create yourself."
Nicholas Benisz, Immigrants, Human Rights and Society program (July 2019), Flinders University
Nicholas (far right) and his classmates with Trotsky's son (fourth from right) in Mexico
“I think that the AIM Overseas Forensic Psychology program contributed significantly to my confidence and independence. At face value, the program is an opportunity to study overseas but it really benefited me in so many ways. It took a massive growth in independence to travel internationally on my own, and having a program to do that through made it so much easier. Furthermore, the program let me meet likeminded people, some of which are still my good friends today. It gave me the chance to intensively study in another country, have the opportunity to live on campus, engage in a completely new style of learning, and be taught by international academics. It furthermore gave me the chance to culturally immerse myself through several of the included excursions and program visits. I honestly don’t think many other life experiences, especially this young, could have benefited me and my independence in the way my AIM program did. It showed me what you can gain when you step outside of your comfort zone in the best way possible.”
Emma Nagelkerke, Forensic Psychology program (July 2018), Griffith University
Emma (left), Maureen (on-site program coordinator) and a friend
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