During my junior year, I had the opportunity to take advantage of both Holy Cross’ study abroad program and the NYC Semester-Away Program. For those who are not familiar, the study abroad program is one that is quite popular among Holy Cross students. It gives them the opportunity to study in a different country for either a semester or a year – I chose to study in Melbourne, Australia. Although I did not spend 2 semesters there, Holy Cross’ program is unique from that of other Colleges because they offer that year-long option, allowing students to completely immerse themselves in another culture for an entire academic year if they wish. The New York Semester is another unique opportunity that Holy Cross offers to students. The program is made up of three major, integrated components: a weekly seminar on leadership; an internship chosen from a vast range of fields; and a capstone project designed to further engage students with real-world problems pertaining to the subject matter of their internship. Students receive a full semester academic credit for the program.
In addition to giving students the opportunity to see different parts of the world and becoming culturally immersed for a semester, studying abroad presents the ability to take unique classes that Holy Cross might not offer. When I was abroad, I took a really interesting course called Food for a Healthy Planet, which was essentially a nutrition class. It was unlike any class that HC offers and it was one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken (although I do love all of my classes here!). I was also able to travel quite a bit in Australia – I explored much of Eastern Australia including Sydney, the Whitsunday Islands, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef. Out of all those places, my favorite was definitely Byron Bay – its chill, beachy, coastal surf town vibe is unique from any other place I’ve been and I definitely want to return someday.
The food and culture was another fun experience while abroad. Australia – particularly Melbourne – is known for its cafe culture. They have so many unique coffee shops and delicious breakfast spots boasting every type of latte you could ever imagine along with beautifully presented plates of pancakes, avocado toast, smoothie bowls, eggs, etc. Truly nobody does brunch as well as the Australians. Living in Melbourne, the city was incredibly walkable and I either took the tram (their version of the subway…but cleaner) or walked everywhere that I needed to go. The people were incredibly welcoming and warm as well – oftentimes in other countries the locals can give a cold shoulder to Americans but this was not at all the case in Australia. As a whole, the program broadened my scope of the world, presented me with new experiences, and gave me a whole new kind of independence.
In New York, I was quite busy balancing my internship, my class, my capstone, and my social life. Yet, I loved the business of my life and how there was always somewhere to go and something to do in the city. Although there was a disruption last spring, the New York Semester was truly the best decision I’ve ever made. It was by far my favorite part of junior year. I got my internship at Hearst applying via Handshake (Holy Cross’ job site). I really loved my time there, the business of the city, and I met such great people and gained so much valuable experience in the (sadly) shortened 2 months I was in NYC. After COVID sent us home, I continued my internship and seminar class virtually. I also kept plugging away at my capstone, which I wrote about how marketing in the fashion and beauty industry has changed since the 70s until now. Picking a topic that I am so interested in personally kept me motivated – I would not have wanted to write a 35-page paper and given a presentation to my teachers, colleagues, mentors, and peers about something that I wasn’t passionate about! Rather, I actually enjoyed it. Overall, the New York Semester taught me so much in such a short amount of time and I now have a much better sense of what I want to do after graduation and where I want to live (hint: New York).
My experience participating in both of these programs was quite different from anything I’ve experienced thus far and I can honestly say that my junior year was one of the best years of my life. Moving around so much was definitely more of an adjustment than I anticipated – specifically being so far from home in Australia – but I’m so happy that I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone and engage in such life-changing adventures.
~Katherine Barrette ’21