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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Madeline in Australia

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Madeline Gastfield ’18 a Finance major and minor in Politics currently studying in Melbourne, Australia.

What’s up LFC!


I’m a finance major and politics minor spending the semester in Melbourne, Australia. This semester wouldn’t be possible without the help of the generous donors at LFC and the grants I received.

I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but I also knew my foreign language skills weren’t that great. I struggled through Spanish in high school as a graduation requirement and never looked back. Since I had never been outside the United States before, I was keen to go somewhere that was predominantly English speaking to minimize some of the stresses of living in another country for four months. I decided on Australia and have loved every second of my time here. But I learned one big lesson- just because we may technically speak the same language, doesn’t mean there isn’t a language barrier!! My first day here I ordered an ice coffee from a café on campus (Melbourne is famous for their hipster coffee scene), but to my surprise I was served more of an ice cream-coffee milkshake. Definitely not my usual Dunkin Donuts order. It was a delicious mistake on my part, but I quickly realized not all words meant what I expected. Sense then I have learned countless differences in slang meanings and even new names for the most basic things. I also regularly find myself having to explain the meaning behind what I thought was a well known saying or phrase.

Adapting to Australian slang has made me extremely aware of my vocabulary choices and helped refine my communication skills. Language is a very powerful tool and I think we all forget that from time to time. I’ve gained an appreciation for words and their infinite possibilities during my time in Melbourne so far. I may not come home with an accent like I expected to, but I reckon I’ll still be calling ketchup tomato sauce in August.