School is nice but the rainforest is better Past Review

By (Tropical Rainforest Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/29/2016 to 12/01/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I felt like I learned (and LIVED) about a totally foreign area to me. I don't think I ever would have had an experience even remotely similar to this otherwise. This was the most exciting and adventurous time of my life, and definitely worthwhile!

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.

This program challenged me physically, but also intellectually. You get to know your professors really well (one of them lives on site) and you want to live up to their standards. They expect a lot from us as students, but it was all reasonable. The professors are very intelligent and are always there to help you learn and make the most of this experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Student Affairs Managers (SAMs) ensured the functioning of the program and took care of everything relating to the students. Both were incredibly resourceful and critical to our happiness and success in the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing is pretty bare bones, you live in a cabin with a bed and drawers in the middle of the rainforest. There's a fan and electricity, there's only so much that could be improved given that you're really living in the rainforest. I know I embraced it and had a blast!

* Food:

Marianne is an incredible cook. The food was delicious (way better than I expected living in the middle of nowhere) and there's plenty of variety. I'm a vegetarian and had no issues with food. In fact, there was always a vegetarian entree along with meatless sides.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We had a homestay weekend staying with a local family. We also participated in community service efforts most weeks, getting to know involved community members which was really nice. There wasn't much getting to know Australian culture and diets, etc.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only had minor health issues like tick bites and splinters and could go to the SAMs and receive help immediately. Some people had gone to a doctor in the region and had less than positive encounters but I believe they're trying to find a better doctor to take care of students.

* Safety:

I always felt very protected at the centre. Obviously there are a lot of dangerous creatures you might encounter but you always feel prepared to deal with them if found (I'm looking at you, red-bellied black snakes!).

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

I absolutely loved being in the rainforest. The academics, experiences, and emotions felt at the center were some of the best I've ever had in my entire life. I loved every second and want to go back already.


* 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)

You don't need to spend money if you don't want to. There are times when you have to care for yourself (i.e. breaks) but you can make it work on a small budget. The only downside is that Australia is expensive, so prepare to spend more than in the US when you're buying for yourself.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 10
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Granola and peanut butter jelly sandwiches.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location
  • Experiences
  • Siggy
* What could be improved?
  • Internet
  • More break time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't pack so many clothes (I packed way too many), there's a washing machine! Also prepare yourself for crappy wifi.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Rainforest Ecology

Course Department:
Instructor: Sigrid Heise-Pavlov
Instruction Language:
Comments: This course was the most challenging because Siggy expects so much from her students but provides every resource necessary and goes above and beyond to help her students. We got to go on incredible field trips and really get to know the Atherton Tablelands and all the species living in the area.
Credit Transfer Issues: