Best Experience Learning about Australia and Myself February 12, 2023

By (Biochemistry and Environmental Studies, Oberlin College) - abroad from 08/26/2022 to 12/08/2022 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that I want to pursue environmental research after college and earn a Ph.D. I gained laboratory research and fieldwork experiences, which will help me when applying for future internships.

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.

There was the perfect balance of academically rigorous research projects and fieldwork while also being an opportunity to have fun and enjoy being abroad. The research papers, in particular, were lengthy to write, but it was incredibly rewarding and engaging work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Tony Cummings and the other group leaders, such as Jack and Vanessa were wondering and helpful people. It was obvious that they genuinely cared about us and wanted us to learn about Queeensland.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Due to COVID, I could not do a homestay, which was disappointing but uncontrollable. Our living arrangements were constantly changing since we were constantly switching places to live. In Cairns, we stayed in a hostel called Global. Global had excellent facilities, nice rooms, and a convenient location. When we were not in Cairns, we were staying in the rainforest, camping, or at Lizard Island, all of which were very nice.

* Food:

There was lots of cooking during the semester abroad. We always prepared meals for everyone in the program in small groups, so I learned to cook for 25 people. Lunches were mostly make-your-own sandwiches. There were lots of varieties of toppings, meat, vegetables, and spreads, so you never got tired of it. Dinners were excellent and often were preorganized by Tony, so we just had to cook them. All dietary restrictions were accounted for. While in Cairns, we were provided with stipend money to purchase our own food either from restaurants or to cook our own at the hostel.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was challenging to integrate into the local culture since we did not have the homestay portion of the program due to COVID. However, we learned much about Australia through the program's leaders, such as Tony, and the camping trip with Uncle Russ, an aboriginal elder. I was exposed to more Australian culture during my ISP and interacted with local Australians daily.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

One student tested positive for COVID during the program, and it was handled poorly. Sleeping arrangements were not figured out, and it caused an issue for the student who tested positive. Other than that, I was informed about what to do if something happened, and lucky nothing did.

* Safety:

I felt safe the entire time

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

I loved every second I was aboard. I learned so much and had so much fun.


* 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)

Food, travel, and housing were expensive for me during my ISP. I could have used some extra stipend to cover costs. This is partially because I went to Tasmania, which is further away and more expensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? During the regular program I did not spend extra money, I spent a good amount over the budget for ISP.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook your food!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Program content
  • Places we traveled to during the program
  • People
* What could be improved?
  • Higher stipend money
  • Better communication before the trip
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I overpacked. I brought too much stuff with me and was stuck lugging a giant suitcase around. There is access to washers and dryers, even when in the field. You only need five days' worth of clothes (or less since clean things can be reworn).

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.