Australian Rainforest: Minimalisitc Living is Very Rewarding Past Review

By (Biology, Swarthmore College) for

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was the best thing I've ever done. I learned about a different culture and living in a country with different laws and rules it broadened my perspective on the world. I would say I pay more attention to world news now than I did before I went abroad. Since going abroad I realize I definitely want to continue to travel to other places.

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.

It was a manageable workload. I enjoyed it a lot and I feel I retained much of the information because after we learned about something we would then go and see it first hand. Lecture style and powerpoint were used often in addition to hands on field trips. We would sometimes receive some of our lessons in the actual forest or standing in actual crater of a volcano which was really cool. I think that helped me associate a practical real life situation to what we were learning.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Professors were very available. We often ate with them and they did not live too far away. There was plenty of space for each student to do work. Our interns and Professors were very knowledgeable and suggested great places for us to see and visit while we were there. The program size was twenty-five students which I thought was perfect. All of my expectations were met and my experienced excelled above and beyond what I expected.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The program was held in the rainforest so we were in pretty remote location. We slept in cabins when we were on sight except when we stayed with our host families. Then we lived with them in their home. They were very nice people and very welcoming. We are actually still in contact. Cabins were a short (5-7min) walk to the Centre. When we would go into the city for a weekend a group of us would get together and stay in a hostel that we booked either online or over the phone. We felt safe mostly everywhere that we went. Even in the cities although we were always mindful of our environment. The city environment was very different from the natural rainforest environment but I enjoyed the positives of both. Both were aesthetically appealing in different ways. At the Centre everything was available for us. I only needed to bring sheets for my bed in the cabin.

* Food:

Our cook was very mindful of dietary restrictions, each night there was a vegetarian option available and if there was something that involved dairy they would make a substitute for that as well. It was buffet style and I think most people felt as if they always had enough to eat. The quality was amazing after we all told the cook we didn't like fried food. She was very open to suggestions and then the cooking became a lot better. Any restaurant in any of the towns or cities that serves authentic Australian food is a great place to go. In Cairnes there's a burger place next to the night markets that sells Kangaroo burgers, it was delicious.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef was one of my favorite moments of my entire time there. Definitely one of the coolest things I've ever done. Additionally, all of our field trips were amazing and I learned lots of cool and interesting things about the country and the people. My other favorite trip was to the Daintree Rainforest where I saw cassowaries and we were able to meet with aboriginal elders who welcomed us to the land in one of their sacred rituals. Definitely a highlight. It was also fun to walk around the towns or the Centre with my friends in the program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Overall it was pretty safe, the only dangerous things around were the animals and plants and we learned that if you respected them they would respect you. We ran into a lot of snakes, mostly pythons but if we kept a safe distance they left us alone.

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

Finances

* 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)

Language

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The environment
  • The opportunities to explore
  • The people
* What could be improved?
  • More activity choices when in town
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you plan on doing this program, really mentally prepare yourself to immerse yourself in wildlife. You cannot escape the spiders or leeches but all of the experiences you have, even with the spiders and leeches will be amazing when you look back. Try things you never would have. Remember that this may be a once in a lifetime experience.