Not your average study abroad experience Past Review

By (Cornell University) - abroad from 02/01/2019 to 05/16/2019 with

SIT Study Abroad: Australia - Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about native Australian flora and fauna, ecology, and different Australian environments. There were some long days out in the field but it was totally worthwhile to see all the unique species that we did.

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.

Coursework wasn't given on a daily (or even weekly sometimes) basis, so the workload wasn't quite as rigorous as I am used to but projects or assignments would be due at the end of excursions and deadlines could appear quite suddenly. Nothing unmanageable, but I definitely felt a bit of pressure towards the end of excursions.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay experience was great, though I know that wasn't the case for everyone on the program. Living in hostels for almost the rest of the semester took some getting used to but was an overall good experience. The feeling of never being quite settled was the only downside as you aren't in one place for more than a week or two at a time until ISP.

* Food:

Wide variety of options, especially Asian foods. Eating out is much more expensive here than in the US so I tried to cook in the hostels as much as I could.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since we weren't at an Australian university and it was an US-only program, it did feel at times as though we were in our own little bubble. Homestay,the camping trip, and ISP did help expose me to indigenous culture and a more modern Australian social environment.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Cairns isn't the city you want to walk around alone late at night, but I always felt safe when I was with other people. Program staff does a good job at describing safety risks and methods to avoid dangerous situations. As long as you use common sense, you will be fine.

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

This program allows you to experience so many more things (places, wildlife, etc.) than you would have the opportunity to if you were to study abroad at another university.


* 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)

The cost of living is higher in Australia so food and other items are more expensive than in the US. The stipend money I was given was more than enough to support me due to the fact that I cooked as much as possible in the hostels and didn't go out to eat for every meal. It really depends on the kind of spender you are, but if you keep a budget and watch your spending, you won't have any issues.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 0
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I thought this was going to be an expensive semester for me while in reality, the only money I spent out of pocket was primarily for post-program travel. This isn't the case for everyone, but if saving money is your primary goal, then don't expect to go out drinking every weekend or eat out for every meal. I still indulged from time to time but in a way that still left me with extra stipend money.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Field experience - opportunity to see unique Australian flora/fauna
  • ISP
  • Program staff
* What could be improved?
  • Expectations for finding ISP
  • Communication about grades
  • Packing information
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? My idea of finding an ISP was a little skewed from reality. In reality, you find your ISP on your own. Program staff are there to help you if needed, but you are still responsible for finding potential projects and reaching out to people yourself. I knew that we would be moving around a lot, but I wish I had packed lighter to make it easier.