Australia: a place I'll never forget! Past Review

By (Biology, University of Redlands) for

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Very much so, there will rarely be times in your life that you are able to have such an oppurtunity, for example, living in the middle of one of the World Heritage sites, and its something I would do over again in a minute. The only thing I would change was being more involved in the community and really getting to immerse myself in the culture of the area, having more oppurtunities for this would have only made my experiance better.

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.

The workload was not as hard as I was expecting it to be, and it greatly helps having everyone your with doing the same thing at the same time so you'll never forget an assignment. The teachers work together to schedual lessons so you'll never be too overloaded at one time. When the research portion starts the workload does go up quite a bit, but it's the only work you're doing so you can really focus on it. I feel that I learned a lot about the tropical rainforests of Australia and many of the general ideas I learned were applicable elsewhere as well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We had both a program administrator and a student leader. Our program administrator we saw occasionally, and she did work very closely with one group of students for a research project. She was very warm and inviting, and at one point hosted us at her home and cooked for us. Our student leader worked directly with us and was there nearly everyday. She was very helpful in many circumstances, especially at the beginning of the program, however she was a bit strict and rigid with us on some of the rules and chose to play a larger disciplinary role than her position should have had. We had a difficult time respecting her as a confidante by the end of the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We were living in cabins at the center, in the middle of the rainforest. It was similar to something you might experiance at a summer camp. This living arrangement is not for everyone, you have little to no privacy and do have to deal with insects and animals in your cabins occasionally. However, we found that we spent little to no time in our rooms, we were basically just there to sleep. The upside of these living conditions is that you can see an incredible amount of wildlife from your cabin window, or just by stepping outside in the morning! We did have a host family visit for about two days which was one of the best experiances of this trip, our host family was incredibly welcoming and made us feel like family immediatly. There were several overnight trips where we camped in tents or stayed in hostels.

* Food:

Our dinners were made by an onsite cook, breakfast and lunch were up to us to make, however they did provide much of the food. The quality of the food was lacking and sadly was one of the downsides of my abroad experiances. However, they did listen to us when we complained and were able to hire another cook to come in occasionally who better understood what we enjoyed.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were several overnight field trips that where some of the highlights of my trip, I loved going to the Daintree forest and into the outback. We were also given the oppurtunity to mingle more with the locals at a folk festival which was an incredible experiance. Overall we were fairly isolated in this program given its location, however I do feel that we got chances to immerse ourselves in the culture of the area. The social atmosphere with the other students is one of the best I've ever experianced, being around each other all the time we all became very close and I felt that there was little animosity at all, which can be very hard considering how often you're together. I made friends here I feel I would like to carry with me for the rest of my life.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There are a lot of saftey and health issues that need to be considered when living in a rainforest and I feel that all of these were addressed fairly well. There were some times where the saftey precautions may have been taken too far considering we are all adults and can be expected to make out own decisions.

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)

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?
  • Living in the middle of a rainforest
  • the people I met during my program
  • research experiance
* What could be improved?
  • being further immersed in the culture
  • the food
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This is a great program if you're interested in the sciences, it will give you a chance to try out doing research. You need to be an outdoorsy person, if you've never been camping and can't stand the thought of staying anywhere but a city this is probably not a great program for you. This program was a place that I really felt I could be myself and I will never get over how amazing it is to be able to live in such a beautiful awe-inspiring place.