Worth it for the Whale Sharks! Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 02/01/2019 to 05/15/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I figured out my dream job! I would love to have a career studying whale sharks!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Academically rigorous, but no time or place to do the work. We lived in a party hostel (very noisy) and the local library closed at 6pm everyday. Furthermore, we were in the field all day and didn't even have weekends off, so I could only do my work at nighttime on my bed in our hostel.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our academic director was one of the least friendly people I have ever met in my entire life.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Lived in a party hostel. I would have to do all my school work listening to party music and went to sleep (or tried to sleep) every night listening to party music.

* Food:

Hostel breakfasts weren't too great. But, the food SIT provided was decent.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like I was able to integrate during ISP, but not so much during the rest of the program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

One girl had staph, but she still shared our bathroom and living space. I have had staph in the past and was very concerned that I would get it from her.

* Safety:

Don't get run over by the cars! Pedestrians don't have the right of way.

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

I'm extremely mixed on whether I would choose the same program because I'm not sure any other program offers the same experiences, but the living situation/difficulty to do homework/my strong dislike for the head of the program made me wish at times that I had chosen a different program.


* 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)

They give you meal stipends, but I spent a lot of my own personal money because I preferred to eat out at nice restaurants rather than try to cook in a very busy hostel kitchen.


* 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
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independent Study Project
  • Lizard Island
* What could be improved?
  • The teachers attitudes
  • the living situation
  • homestay families
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I would be living in a party hostel. I can't believe there was no indication of that going into the program.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Rainforest Reef and Cultural Ecology Seminar

Course Department: Environmental Studies
Instructor: Tony Cummings
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course was fine, except that we had pop quizzes as our only form of quiz assessment. Pop quizzes are not educationally sound, and I would have learned a lot more if I could have studied the material and then taken a traditional quiz.
Credit Transfer Issues: It counted as a bio elective for me!
Course Name/Rating:

Environmental Field Study Seminar

Course Department: Environmental Studies
Instructor: Jack Grant
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I loved Jack! He's incredibly knowledgeable. We were assessed mainly through lab reports and group projects. The majority of the class took place out in the field, which was amazing.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Independent Study Project

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Brad Norman
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was the most incredible part of my time in Australia. I worked as an intern for a world-leading whale shark scientist and spent two days a week in the field swimming with the whale sharks. I designed my own research project, and then I wrote a 40 page research paper/lab report.
Credit Transfer Issues: I was told this would transfer in as a bio field methods course, but upon returning the head of the bio department said they were no longer giving credit for independent study projects. However, because he had told me before I went abroad, that it would count as a field methods, I was able to receive credit for it as a field methods course.