Electrical Engineering Student Shares Unique Study Abroad Experience

by Daniel Fetsko ’19 CE


Ashley Meier ’19 EE
Ashley Meier ’19 EE

Last spring, Ashley Meier ’19 EE spent the semester studying abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. In her time in the land down under, Ashley had a variety of experiences that helped her grow, both academically and culturally, and that could not be found anywhere else.

Originally, what made you want to go study abroad? And – what made you choose to go to Australia?
I wanted to study abroad to see how life is outside of the US, to experience a different culture, and to interact and befriend people who are very different from me. I choose Australia because I enjoy the outdoors and nature-related activities that Australia has to offer.

Overall, how was your experience?
My experience abroad was amazing. I met a lot of great people both from the US and from Australia. I learned how different people live their lives from culture to culture, but also how similar it is.

Often times studying abroad is viewed as difficult for engineers due to the course load we have. Did you have to do any alternative scheduling (overloading, summer classes, etc.) in order to accomplish this?
I took a couple summer classes after my freshman year, which definitely helped me have an easier time scheduling my abroad classes. As an electrical engineer, studying abroad took a lot of juggling of my schedule to get it to work out, but it is very doable.

Now that you’re back on campus, do you feel that you are behind at all from your classmates that stayed last semester?
I feel as if I am a little behind because they have taken more classes that directly relate to my major, which makes the classes we are all taking this semester a little easier. However, I wouldn’t take back my abroad experience for anything, and classes will even themselves out after the first semester back. 

Ashley Meier ’19 EE
Ashley Meier ’19 EE

Did you visit any other places outside of Sydney while you were there?
Outside of Australia, I traveled to New Zealand and Fiji. On the mainland, I visited Melbourne, Cairns, the west coast of Australia, and much of the area around Sydney. So I was travelling a lot which was a lot of fun getting to see all these different places.

Was there anyone in particular who really pushed/convinced you to go or anyone that helped you along the way?
My advisor, Dr. Robert Caverly, was very fond of Australia and he was extremely supportive and excited that I had the opportunity to go there because he also has been there and loved it. He was a great support system throughout the entire process.

One thing Dr. Caverly mentioned is how you felt very connected with the Villanova community, even while abroad – can you elaborate on that?
I remember when one of my lab professors said that one great thing about Villanova is the team atmosphere, that every student is ready and willing to help each other. In the real world you work on teams and our school emulates that, but not every school is the same way. I truly never really believed that because I couldn’t imagine when students would not help out other students, even if it was a simple easy question to answer. But at the University of New South Wales, the environment in labs and classes was exactly how my professor described it in other schools. It was extremely competitive and none of the students were ever willing to help each other. This made me really appreciate Villanova and everything that is offered here.

What would you say was your single most rewarding experience from the semester?
My most rewarding experience was having the ability to meet and become good friends with so many different people. I grew as a person while I was abroad, both personally and professionally; I saw things I never expected to see, and I feel as if I am a better person for it now.

If you were speaking to a younger student who was on the fence about studying abroad or not, what would be the one thing you’d say to them?
Take the leap. Don’t be afraid of going to an unfamiliar place – the experiences and lessons you will learn will all be worth it. Going abroad was the best five months of my life, so don’t hesitate in anything you do, be all in and at the end you will look back and see how incredible the entire experience was.