Studied Environmental Sciences at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, July – December 2015
Why did you decided to study abroad?
I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of studying abroad until my professor, Dr. Kerry Byrne, and I were talking about her study abroad experience in Costa Rica during a field day. She encouraged me to look into the options available through IE3 Global, where I found the perfect opportunity to study in the tropical rainforest of Northeastern Australia. James Cook University offered courses with field trips to study plants and animals in the wet and dry tropics, as well as in the Great Barrier Reef. In addition, I would have time after my studies to travel to Melbourne, Australia, where I could meet my father for the very first time. The timing was perfect, the opportunity was grand, and I just couldn’t let it pass me by.
What was the thing you struggled with the most?
In the first few weeks, I met a ton of new people. I hung out on porches with students from Australia, China, England, Ireland, and Laos, joined my dorm’s sports team, and went dancing downtown, but hadn’t really made any actual friends yet. I spent my birthday alone in my dorm room, eating mashed potatoes on my bed, crying and wishing that I could be home with my friends and family during the beautiful Oregon summer months. I think that this dip in morale is something that happens to a lot of people who decide to travel so far away from home, but, as I learned, as long as you keep putting yourself out there, the loneliness is replaced by awesome experiences and long held memories.
What was the most memorable thing about your experience?
I learned to say yes to every opportunity that presented itself to me. I said yes to a ten-day road trip with seven Norwegians whom I barely knew from a few of my classes, and it was the best decision I had made in my entire time abroad. We slept in huts in the rainforest and hostels in the cities, visited pubs and dance clubs, jumped off rocks at gigantic waterfalls, swam at the most beautiful beaches that I had ever seen (be sure to read the local signs so that you don’t spend 45 minutes in dangerous crocodile habitats), and created bonds that would last for the rest of our time in Australia and beyond.
Would you advise other students to study abroad?
I believe that everyone should take time to study abroad, and that those who don’t may look back one day and wish that they had. College is the ideal time for young people to take the leap. Most don’t have families to take care of or jobs that won’t allow them to travel for long periods of time. Students can continue their studies while also learning about other cultures, becoming self-reliant, and gaining a better understanding about themselves. Having this experience on a resume also shows employers that applicants are able to set and achieve goals, can be flexible in the face of unexpected situations, and can be successful in new surroundings.
What would you like us to know about you?
I am a lifelong Oregonian with a love for nature, cooking, and dancing. I graduated from Oregon Tech with an honors degree in Environmental Sciences and tons of fantastic memories, including camping at Crater Lake for a week while catching butterflies for my Lepidoptera summer course, creating friendships with a ton of people as a Resident Advisor in the Castle and the Village, and sharing in the suffering that was Organic Chemistry and Physics (although very valuable courses) with some of my closest friends. I am now working as an event coordinator for a company that plans sustainability conferences all over the United States, where I am helping to spread sustainability best practices to those who will implement and spread them even further across the world.