Belinda Wych-Done

Leading up to the Core Paris Program it was impossible to know what to expect and how it would change my university experience at ACU and on a wider scale, add to my life experience. Although I had travelled extensively around Europe and other parts of the world, I had never studied overseas before or been on an organised immersion experience. I was more of a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type backpacker on previous trips.

I got wind of the Core program when it first ran in Italy in 2012 - being able to study a unit overseas without needing to do a full semester exchange?  Let’s just say my interest was definitely piqued! After going to the information sessions and talking to students who had completed the Core in Italy, I was sold. The Core in Paris would be the stage for my next overseas adventure! Following seven trial suitcase packings, and with a capsule wardrobe any professional traveller would be proud of, I was off.

ACU students Belinda and Drew at Eiffel Tower

Once we were in Paris, the experience is truly hard to describe - a heady concoction of beautiful, long summer nights and stimulating, intellectual conversation with instant lifelong friends over evening picnics. It was really hard to tear ourselves away from our newly created ‘Paris lifestyle’ when the program was over. 

One of the most significant elements of my experience was the discussions we were able to have in our UNCC300 lectures. The class times were longer than they are in the domestic program giving us more opportunity to reflect on our changing attitudes and thoughts as the program unfolded. With so many differing opinions in our group, it was interesting and somewhat challenging to hear others views on the controversial case studies in the unit. These discussions became fodder for picnic conversations later in the evening - a daily activity not to be missed. They certainly opened my eyes to how each person’s life experiences, beliefs and attitudes shape their opinions and inform the decisions they make. 

The Paris Program has not only changed my university experience and provided me with very fond memories but it is also an experience that I can draw on as I move into the professional arena next year. It is something I can add to my resume - my ability to travel and work with others, and my resourcefulness in getting around and ‘surviving’ in a French speaking country shows my willingness for new experiences. I am sure it will continue to be the highlight of my academic career and hope that it will help me stand out from the pack and lead me to great things after university.

Belinda Wych-Done
Bachelor of Arts