Visit Down Under leaves student with lifelong memories

Karen Robinson, senior biology and health and exercise science major, studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, during the fall semester of her junior year.

“To be honest, you don’t get much farther from Ewing than Sydney, Australia,” she said.

Along with her roommate Krista Going, senior elementary education and math, science and technology major, Robinson took a flight across the Pacific to the land Down Under. “I’ve always wanted to go there,” Robinson said. “I was fascinated so I asked my roommate if she wanted to go and she wanted to go her junior year, too.”

Together, Robinson and Going were able to travel to Australia. From July to December, Robinson visited Cairns, Bells Beach and Melbourne, where the famous beaches, markets and the unsurpassed nightlife gave her memories to last a lifetime.

Though they traveled all around Australia, Robinson still fell in love with Sydney. “It was such a gorgeous, clean city. It was so nice to just walk around,” she said. Robinson experienced the beauty of the famous opera house while seeing the “Pirates of Penzance” and breathed the fresh, crisp air in the Royal Botanical Gardens, which has an amusement park right on the harbor.

She was able to connect with the students of the University of New South Wales in Sydney where she studied. The apprehension of studying abroad was erased when she became fully involved in student life at the University through classes and the intramural soccer team.

She volunteered at the Sydney Children’s Hospital and also ran a 14-kilometer (9-mile) race from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach with 63,000 other runners, including a few Olympians.

Though Sydney was “another adventure” to Robinson, the transition back to the College was tough. “I completely started a new life – new set of friends, new home, a new school, a new team. I just picked up when I got there and then I was coming back to the College when I felt that I had already moved on. It’s not that it was a negative thing, but I had moved to a next chapter of my life.”

With this mindset, Robinson wanted to return to the land of crocodile hunters and kangaroos. However, she has changed her mind.

“It was a crucial time of my life – character-building, perspective-changing, made me a better person and it allowed me to progress in life. Now, if I went back to Australia, it would be great but at the same time, the same people wouldn’t be there with me and it would make it an incomplete return.”

For the next two years, Robinson will be moving on to the next chapter of her life at the University of North Carolina.