Home Amongst the Gum Trees Past Review

By (Environmental Studies, Knox 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?
This program helped me to confirm my interests in graduate studies (or a career) in ecology

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 pretty similar to a standard college workload in the states as this is an American-based program. Grading was the same as it is in the states. Professors expected a lot out of us even though we were constantly in the field and on field trips. Because the courses were 300-level, I felt like this was fair.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The student affairs manager (SAM) was absolutely awesome, but a lot of times the people higher up in the program were ill-prepared, and plans were constantly changing last minute, which was somewhat frustrating.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived in cabins that were, to be honest, in pretty bad shape. I understand that this is a field program and that we were sort of "roughing it," but the cabins were filled with mold very often. (Don't go on this program if you have very bad asthma). The general facilities were in pretty bad shape at the beginning of the program, although they got much better when a new site manager was hired. The cabins are also very far from the centre (where you take classes, eat, etc), which was somewhat of an inconvenience when we were up working until the wee hours of the morning. However, we were shown a lot of hospitality by the faculty and staff at the centre, and it wasn't all bad.

* Food:

Overall, the food was very good and I never went hungry. We always had fresh fruit, vegetables and a variety of healthy options for every meal. My only complaint was that there was never enough of the vegetarian main course to go around since the non-veggies would also eat it, and the cook only prepared enough servings for the number of vegetarians present typically. Also, don't eat the Tasty Cheese.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We had a lot of opportunities to work with TREAT (a community group dedicated to replanting the rainforest) and other community groups around the Tablelands. We also got to go on quite a few fun field trips to sites around the Tablelands, such as Millaa Millaa falls, swimming Lake Eacham, and shopping at the Yungaburra market. At night, if we didn't have work to do, we students would play cards, bake, or watch movies.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The healthcare available in Atherton isn't that great, but it's adequate. The staff was well trained to handle emergencies on site.

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)

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 amongst the diversity of the rainforest
  • The field trips we went on
  • The close friends I made
* What could be improved?
  • Living situations
  • Too many silly rules on site
  • Planning of daily life/activities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Make sure you are prepared to live in a rustic, isolated setting and not have a lot of free time or control over your daily activities. You also need to be okay with having a lot of rules (such as a curfew, not being allowed to drink on site, wearing closed-toed shoes at all times, etc.) This program is not for everyone, but if you are truly looking for a field experience, you will definitely enjoy it.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Rainforest Management

Course Department:
Instructor: Tim Curran
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Out of the four courses I took while abroad, I felt like I got the most out of this one. Tim pushed us to think critically about forest management and ecology, and I got to hone my plant identification skills. Tim was always well prepared and very knowledgeable about the Wet Tropics and forestry in general. He kept us involved in the lecture by asking interesting questions.
Credit Transfer Issues: