Going to Australia for a semester was one of the best decisions I could have made for my time in college. Right from the beginning I was having eye opening experiences, connecting with people, and growing as a person. The people are down to earth and friendly, and I was being welcomed to Australia for months by everyone I met. Between that and the relaxed attitude so many Aussies seem to share, I felt right at home from the get-go.
The University of the Sunshine Coast blew me away with the quality of its classes and teachers. My professors were all actively involved in their fields, and knew not just what they were teaching, but how to effectively teach it. Every question I had was quickly and confidently answered. The classes were also inclusive of a broad range of material, and were clearly stemming from the professor’s understandings, as opposed to being taught out of a text book. What I learned here I know I can take anywhere. Needless to say, the academics go above and beyond.
A university isn’t just professors and classrooms, and I took full advantage of what else there was to offer. The library is modern and terrific for studying, there are tons of activities and events put on by the university and the student guild, and a boat load of really great student groups. There was something for everyone, whether you be outdoorsy, or if real quidditch sounds like fun to you. The groups are run by students for students, and a great way to make connections.
I really took advantage of the outdoor group on campus, USC Activate. I made friends through it that I will be visiting and who plan to visit me. We went on audacious hikes, explored Queensland’s coast, and climbed the cores of old volcanoes. The bonds we made were so strong we ended up making our own trips, and went more places by ourselves than we ended up going through Activate. There were local Aussies, and also a strong showing of international students as well. We ended up getting people from a plethora of different countries and backgrounds. While I have connections in Australia now that I’ll be returning to in the future, I also have them in other countries I’ve never been to.
I went to Brisbane and Sydney, and I can say they have some cool corners to discover, but most of my effort was in seeing the landscape these cities are built around. There are so many beautiful and unique places in Australia, filled with an ecology found nowhere else. Coming to Australia to study ecosystem sciences, I learned just as much outside of the classroom as in it. It was enlightening in regards to what was Australian, but also gave me perspective on what I found at home as well. And the Aussies love getting out into “the bush”. Or anything that get’s them active. From bushwalking, to surfing, to rock climbing, they do it all and dragged me along. Take them up on any offer to go outside.
My trip to Australia was invaluable. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. For anyone considering going, go. If you’re interested, realize you don’t know the half of it, and the half you do know already has you ready to go. Think what it will be like once you discover the other half in Australia.