Environmentally-friendly Australia made me feel at home! Past Review

By (Environmental Studies., Austin College) for

SIT Study Abroad: Australia - Sustainability and Environmental Action

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Australia is very similar to the United States. There is still materialism, consumerism, capitalist markets and so on. Their histories are very similar also, with the English exploring the land, chasing off or socially integrating the Indigenous, as well as changing the landscape. So by learning more about the way Australia came to be what it is today, I gained more knowledge about the USA. My academic interests are the same, although I feel better versed in environmental sustainability now than I was before. My future plans are the same, except maybe I'll move to Australia now.

Review Photos

SIT: Byron Bay - Sustainability and Environmental Action Photo SIT: Byron Bay - Sustainability and Environmental Action Photo

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Environmental Philosophy, Ecology, Sustainable Resource Management
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.

Workload was fair. Probably less work than a semester at AC. However there was not a lot of time to accomplish this work. I felt grading was somewhat unfair, because different teachers graded differently, therefore it was difficult to learn how to write papers for each prof. (For instance, a semester at AC, one will learn their professor's grading method and adjust to it as needed.) The teaching methods and educational system was totally different from anything I have ever experienced before because my semester in Australia was based on experiential learning. In other words, hiking through the rainforest or taking a surf lesson was considered "class and a learning session." This was absolutely amazing, but a very different method than I had ever experienced before. I had to adjust from learning from notes on a board and taking notes, to listening and remembering more carefully. I feel overall it was a great way to learn, although I enjoy class time also.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I felt that AC's Study Abroad Administration was absolutely amazing. I was able to quickly pick out a program by explaining my desires in a program (i.e. ISP, environmental studies) and narrow down the program for me. I also had help in making sure I would get the credits I needed towards graduation from this program. I was encouraged to attend other students' study abroad presentations, which were helpful for what to expect from SIT. I didn't have a lot of questions before I left, I am more the type of person who just wants to get there, try it, and figure it out for myself. But I felt like I was very well taken care of by AC study abroad office.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing was great- we did everything from camping, to hostels, to a host family. For three weeks I lived on Buddhist communities for my research project. Every place was great. I felt safe everywhere, and we were always within walking distance of class, except at our host family stay, where we were driven somewhere on certain days. My host family treated me as a 21-year-old college student living with them. I was easily accepted and allowed to do what I pleased. I had responsibilities like my laundry and helping out with dishes. During my travels, I did not have to purchase anything in order to settle in.

* Food:

I didn't have dietary restrictions, but when we traveled as a group and ate as a group, we always had vegetarian options. Sometimes a few of us would recommend something to make for lunch or dinner and our program advisor would see to buying it at the grocery store for us. I always had delicious food. Byron Bay has great places all over to grab something quick like falafel or sushi rolls.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I volunteered at a five-day music festival in Byron Bay, called BluesFest...that was absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed traveling to Tasmania, where we spent two weeks traveling around, studying in national parks, and hiking a lot. The Aboriginal Field Trip in Evan's Head was spectacular. We became so close to our Aboriginal teachers in those few days, it was hard to leave them. I felt a spiritual connection with the land when learning from them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There were not any healthcare issues within our group. Sometimes I didn't feel very safe on our hiking trips because we were either hiking up huge boulder mountains, where I felt insufficient with my climbing skills. Other times we were going through very wet rainforests, where one could very easily slip. You just had to be careful in these situations.

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


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $50-$100 a week..
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? When we first arrived we had to pay a lot for books, which I felt they should have told us about. Internet was also very expensive and I think other students traveling abroad should be prepared for that.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You have to not mind being outdoors, you don't have to LOVE camping (I had only been camping once or twice before going on this program). But if you really hate the outdoors, do not go on this program. You have to be able to accumulate the courage and the confidence within yourself. I definitely feel less shy and I believe in myself much more after this experience.