An Interview with Daisy Sanders, International Exchange Student from Edith Cowan University (ECU), Australia, Fall 2012
Daisy Sanders (second from left) with some of her dance classmates at UNCG
This interview was conducted by Sara Normand, Study Abroad and Exchange Officer, Edith Cowan University. Daisy Sanders, a student in the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at ECU, was an international exchange student at UNCG during the 2012 Fall Semester.
Why did you decide to go on an exchange program?
I have travelled a lot, but I wanted the challenge of living in a foreign country for a longer period of time.
Why did you choose to study in the US?
To be honest, I didn't want a language barrier because I knew the experience might be challenging enough without that! I also wanted to learn specifically from the teachers in the dance program at UNCG because Alice Holland, who now teaches me, learned from them when she came on exchange to UNCG. It was a very specific choice based on people I had met and who had inspired me.
What is the biggest difference between UNCG and Edith Cowan University?
At UNCG, the focus is more on academia and scholarly pursuits. The amount of written work and reading is very high, which I think demands a high standard of commitment from the students. There is also an incredibly extensive dance and performing arts library at UNCG, which is exciting because at the WAAPA the focus is more on a high physical standard. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to benefit from both institutions and the different things they offer.
What did you think about UNCG’s units (courses)?
There is quite an extensive range of units at UNCG, and I’ve found the professors in all of my classes to be very energetic educators. They’ve been really helpful in making sure I have all the classes I need to meet the requirements of my degree back home.
Have you played any sports or joined any clubs at UNCG?
I participate in outdoor recreation, swim club, and a few other social clubs. There are so many clubs here—it is absolutely incredible! There is always something happening.
What are UNCG’s facilities like?
Fantastic. You have everything you need right at your fingertips: sporting grounds, a pool, a gym, a twenty-four-hour library, food outlets, and a cafeteria.
Do you live on campus?
Yes. The buildings here are old and very beautiful. At first, I was living in an apartment with two American girls, but then I moved into a traditional dorm with a new American friend from my dance classes. From the beginning, I decided not to live with the other international students because I wanted to immerse myself with the local students. Where and how you live is really one of the most challenging tasks of studying abroad, but you learn a lot about yourself as well as other people.
Daisy Sanders (left) with fellow dance student Noelia Haller during a trip to Asheville, NC
What do you think about the local culture and people?
I'm still getting to know them! When I first arrived, I was bombarded with all the classic American foods and styles, but I am starting to realize it takes a lot longer than those initial experiences to understand a place and its people.
Do you think North Carolina is a place you could see yourself living in the future?
Yes, because it is a naturally beautiful place. I think I’d still want to live near the university, though, because of the friends and contacts I have made while studying here. It is definitely one of the major hubs of the city.
What travelling have you done so far, and where else do you plan to go?
I spent a month in the UK, then a week in New York and a week in Los Angeles before I came here. I also take several trips in the surrounding areas of North Carolina almost every weekend. I think I'll go to Washington, D.C. and back to New York again before I leave!
What is one tip you’d give to anyone thinking about going on an exchange program?
It helps if you really love studying something in particular and you want to pursue learning about it wherever you go. That passion has really helped motivate me when I felt homesick. You should also make it about the people you meet. There are always people who want to get to know you and help you out. Oh—and take your teddy.
What do you plan on doing for work in the future, and how do you think this exchange will impact that?
I want to spend some time in Australia and overseas working as a performing artist. This experience has made me more resilient in terms of being away from what I know in order to pursue something I really love doing. It has also shown me how you can do what you love anywhere in the world if you remain open to the possibility.
To read more about Daisy Sanders, visit the ECU Website.