What do you think about when you think of Australia? Maybe kangaroos, Chris Hemsworth, and P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way. Well, you can add “high school summer overseas” to that list, because Australia also happens to possess the perfect blend of adventure and education for inquisitive students.
When spending a summer in “Oz,” high schoolers can not only earn college credits but also participate in an array of signature Aussie experiences. Try hiking and surfing, sampling a meat pie, and spending a free day strolling through a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.
Equally important to encountering a new lifestyle during a summer overseas is engaging with your host country. Many travel programs give high schoolers the opportunity to study Australia’s history, learn about Aboriginal culture, or help out on volunteer projects. After a summer in the land down under, students will have a better understanding of the world and how they fit into it.
Where to Go
From the Opera House to Bondi Beach, Sydney is home to some of Australia’s most iconic sites. During a summer trip, high school students can volunteer in conservation, take courses for college credit, and learn about Aboriginal history, all while exploring this bustling east coast city. For those who want to experience the many sides of Australia, the capital of New South Wales is the perfect place to base yourself.
If you’re dreaming of spending your summer overseas in a tropical environment, then Cairns is the Australian destination you’re looking for. Top activities include hiking in the rainforest of Daintree National Park and snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef. Other than adventuring, high schoolers will be able to take programs for credit, volunteer on marine projects, and relax on the sandy shores of Port Douglas.
As one of the largest cities in the world, Brisbane is a top destination for high schoolers to explore and learn. Students can visit art and history museums, lend a hand to wildlife sanctuaries, and get a head start on college credits. Plus, most programs take participants to neighboring areas for additional east coast experiences, like surfing in Surfers Paradise or visiting Australia Zoo in Sunshine Coast.
Planning Your Trip
Preparing for a summer overseas comes with a hefty list of things to do. For high schoolers venturing to Australia, add the following to your pre-departure plans.
How to Choose a High School Travel Program in Australia
Selecting an overseas program as a high schooler can involve a lot of pressure and anxiety. Your college admittance, subsequent career, and overall life depend on this one decision, right? Not so much -- travel programs will affect you, and your host country, on more than merely an academic level.
As a high school abroad student, look for programs that allow you to try new experiences and give back as much as you learn. At the end of the day, you can’t really make a wrong decision. Does volunteering with sea turtles really sound better or worse than volunteering with koalas?
Travel Tips in Australia
In the summer, Australia will be sweltering. Sunscreen will be necessary at nearly all times, and bug repellent will be helpful, especially if traveling to the tropical region. Australia is also pretty vast, meaning there will likely be long stretches of driving for programs including multiple cities or excursions. Pack your earbuds, reading material, and plenty of entertainment for all the inevitable road-tripping.
To enter Australia, you’ll need to have completed an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The process is easy -- you can apply online, and you’ll usually receive a confirmation email the same day. Under the ETA, studying is limited to three months, which will be a sufficient amount of time for most summer programs. Keep in mind that an ETA does not allow you to work in Australia while you study.
Health & Safety
From snakes and spiders to crocodiles and jellyfish, Australia is notorious for its roster of deadly critters. For programs that take participants hiking, swimming, or into the Outback, you’ll have to be cautious and adhere to the safety instructions of your teachers or guides. If you know you’ll be interacting with animals during your trip, like while volunteering with wildlife, you may need a rabies shot before you leave.
Costs & Funding
Significant portion of the planning process for your study abroad experience will be financing. Here, you’ll find cost estimates and funding tips to help you adequately prepare for a summer in Australia.
Typical Program Cost
Summer programs in Australia can range from a few weeks to a month in length. At the shorter end, multi-week programs typically run up to $4,000. Month-long excursions are priced around $8,000 to $9,000, depending on the included activities. Other than your program fees, you’ll also need to purchase plane tickets and set aside spending money for souvenirs and meals.
While the fees above may seem daunting, high school students tend to be pros at fundraising. Other than an after-school job, try:
- Selling Food: This is a great option if other students in your community are also embarking on a summer excursion. You can organize a bake sale together or look into fundraising kits with pizza and candy companies.
- Capitalizing on Your Talents: Ask for a small donation in exchange for a one of a kind souvenir from down under. If you’re an artist or a photographer, you can promise sponsors a unique gift, hand-crafted by you, upon your return.
- Changing Up your Birthday Wishes: For your birthday and holidays, request a monetary gift. Plus, your parents will probably be relieved they don’t have to brainstorm present ideas for a teenager.
Most travel programs offer scholarship opportunities to participants. For Australia-bound students, look into:
- Blythe Academy: Need-based scholarships are available for high school students embarking on summer programs through Blythe. Applicants will have to hand in an essay, letter of reference, report card, and various documents demonstrating financial need.
- MEI International Academy: Another high school program offering scholarships is MEI. Taking a merit-based approach, you’ll need to supply a short essay and materials that prove your academic standing, awards, and extracurriculars.
- Putney Student Travel: If you’re traveling to Australia with Putney, then take advantage of their scholarship program. Similar to Blythe Academy, Putney offers need-based assistance and an easy application process.