Incredible Country, Incredible People, A Once In a Life Time Experience January 26, 2015

By (Mechanical Engineering Technology, University of Maine - Orono) - abroad from 08/29/2014 to 12/13/2014 with

CISabroad (Center for International Studies): Gold Coast - Semester on the Gold Coast

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was absolutely worthwhile. I was able to learn a lot and be more comfortable on my own traveling and I learned another perspective on real word issues that was different than the United States. One of my favorite things about my time abroad though was that I did a volunteer project for a company that is working to bring nuclear power to Australia, so I was able to put that right on my resume.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I didn't know this when I got there but its a five star, which is what I would absolutely give it. Students that go there are ones that are dedicated to learning and growing as individuals. But its not a bunch of book worms, the students and faculty are fun and always have something to offer whether it be new knowledge or experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The thing I loved about CIS was that they really set the stage well in coming to Australia. They put me into another group of 19 other people and we really bonded and became a family. They started out putting us all together in Sydney for three days for orientation and we really loved it. One incredible person I have to talk about was our program coordinator, Jackie Chapman. Jackie was an amazing resource for our program. She's a native to the Gold Coast so she knows all the ins and outs of Australia. She took us on several trips and could talk to us whenever we needed her. She was amazing.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was great. I lived on campus, I was right next to all my classes, I had my own bathroom with a great roommate. There all alternative places to live off campus which are just as close but even nicer if that's what you want. I was happy with my accommodations.

* Food:

There are two answers when answering this question. On campus the food was okay, limited menu that changed sometimes but not too much. There is a restaurant on campus which was good and I recommend checking out. Off campus the food was great. Especially in the cities, Australia has great beef / meat products.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite thing about Australia was I always say two words " The People". Australians are the best, they are fun, outgoing and very laid back. Being around them made me feel very comfortable, no language barrier (minus a few slangs which Jackie clears up), easy to work with and knowledgeable. An important thing to know about Australia is that even though it is geographically it is the size of the US, it only has a population of about 23 million. There is a great sense of community among the Australian People.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any issues that I reported but I know a friend did and she was able to get medicine easily. CIS offers healthcare insurance stuff.

* Safety:

No matter where you go you go abroad you should always be careful. But the Gold Coast was very safe, I traveled in the city on my own and had no issues. I think it is good policy to travel with someone just for fun and safety though. Keep an eye out on the news for anything that may come up just because the last week I was in Australia the Sydney the hostage crisis happened. Overall though Australia is very safe for international students especially Americans.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

My biggest expense was traveling. I had a meal plan for food so that wasn't an issue but it depends on who you ask. Your student Visa allows you to work 20 hours a week, so that helps.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I honestly don't remember. It veried every week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? When it comes to Australia almost everything is going to be more expensive. US money was worth a little more so that helped but that can change in the future. I'd honestly start by making sure you have money when going abroad, a few thousand dollars as much as you can bring. The next biggest thing I'd say is plan all your major trips with your friends in the first week or so. Those were my biggest expenses, figure out where you want go, what you want see and then prioritize. Lastly, give yourself a budget for each week with what is reasonable. I'd say pick how much you want to spend each week, multiply that by the weeks you are going to be abroad and set that money aside for regular spending money (food, alcohol, clothes, souvenirs, etc.) There are weeks you'll spend less and others you'll spend more, it varies. Just be smart and don't blow it all at once. My last piece of advise is look for work if you're interested. The hourly rate can be really high in Australia. I know of people who had decent spending money because of it.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The People
  • Places I saw / Traveled
* What could be improved?
  • Food at the University
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Good places to go while in the country and around it. That way I could have planned them right off the bat.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.