Australian Woes Past Review

By (Biology, General., Pacific Lutheran University) for

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Australia & New Zealand - Rainforest Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I was not satisfied with my experience. The policies were too restricting, keeping students from experiences the culture and other social aspects of the country. Very little time was allotted for activities that were outside school time. The only way we got to experience other parts of Australia was through school sanctioned field trips and overnight excursions. However, the program did accomplish its aim of teaching students how to write and conduct a proper research project. The location of center inside a regrowth rainforest was also fantastic. Everyday you could see a multitude of different mammals and birds. This was a great from for those of an environmental and scientific nature.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Workload was quite light until the second half of the program. The first half of the program was spent doing classes. Many lectures were held out in the field rather than a classroom. Student do need to remain diligent about staying on top of the homework. It is less about the quantity of work, which is retrospect is quite small, and more to do with a limited amount of time to do homework. Classes are in secession from 8:30am - 5:00pm five days a week. The second half of the program classes are finished and the rest of the time is spent doing individual research projects. Students are generally left to figure out what they want to research, but professors are available whenever students need help. The goal is for the student to do as much of the research themselves as possible.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

SFS is a very small University that only accommodates 32 students and about 9 staff members. There is only one building that is divided into several compartments. It contains the classroom, computer room, common room, kitchen and offices. Internet is difficult to access when there are too many people on it, due to the location of the center in the rainforest. The three professors were all very knowledgeable in their fields and avaibale whenever you needed to talk with them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Students at SFS live within a regrowth rainforest about 20 mins away from the nearest town, Yungaburra. Student live in cabins withing the rainforest with about 5 - 7 other students. Generally females will be living 7 to a cabin and males generally live in a cabin of 4 - 5 individual. This is because more women choose to attend the program than men. I attend my program during the dry season and decided to sleep in a tent, provided by the center, for the duration of the program.

* Food:

We have a single cook, cooking for 23 students and 7 staff. She makes fantastic food and accommodation dietary restrictions easily. Those who are vegetarians will have no problem finding fantastic tasting food. In fact they may have to fend off non-vegetarians because these dishes are so good.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There is very little ability to experience Australia outside of school time because the center is located 20mins from the nearest town. Due to several policies set in place, students cannot drive anywhere only staff. Also every student must agree on a single place to visit or no one is allowed to go anywhere. However, to try and make up for this SFS tries to incorporate several day trips to different locations around Australia. You get to see different sites, but it does not help get a sense of the culture and social aspects of Australia.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you want to be safe this is the program to go on. In fact SFS tries to be too safe, it is the biggest problem I had with this program. The policies they put in place to keep use safe were too limiting it what it allowed up to do. It kept us from experiencing Australia properly.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The location of the center
* What could be improved?
  • More leniency on the policies
  • More time to explore the country
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Those who are interested in a research experience, this is the program for you.