Alumni Spotlight: Siobhan Mullarkey


A recent high school graduate, Siobhan is currently in her first year at the University of Glasgow studying for a MA in Geography.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program as I wanted to do something different after graduating from high school. I've always been interested in traveling abroad, but none of my friends were particularly up for it, so I instead decided to look at group based programs.

I specifically chose Pacific Discovery as I liked how close the age range was compared to many of the others. Their Australia Summer Program fitted perfectly into my schedule and was packed full of exciting activities and opportunities.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider sorted everything for the duration of the program, and I was given support for all other aspects. You have to book your own flight separately and sort your own insurance but Pacific Discovery were great in recommending where to look and even have their own partnership with STA travel so they can help you organize your flights.

I also arrived a few days prior to the program and departed a day later and had to book my own accommodation for this directly, but it was not a problem. On request, they provided the details of the accommodation we would be staying at, which made booking this simple.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

One piece of advice I would give to someone going on this program is to not let anything hold you back. Traveling to a different country with people you have never met before can be a scary prospect but don't let this stop you. My program leaders always used to say "generally you get out of this program what you want from it and what you put in", and this is true.

Don't be afraid to talk to the people in your group, you will be surprised how quickly you will bond and make friends, no matter how different everyone may be.

Also give all activities a shot. You may not feel too confident a swimmer and therefore not be keen on the idea of surfing, but you never know if you don't give it a go. The leaders and fellow participants will be there to push you and encourage you to make the most out of it, but ultimately it's your trip and you who make the decision.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average scheduled day normally has plans from 9-4, whether that be traveling or the activities themselves. Each day varies depending on the outlook for the day, with some days having more free time than others.

The day is normally split into roughly morning and afternoon activities with scheduled activities or meals some evenings too. No day is ever the same, and as a result I'd recommend checking out the program itinerary as it would be impossible to try outline what each day entails here.

Now that you’ve been there, when you think of Australia, what’s the first image that comes to mind?

It's hard to explain and this is going to sound kind of cliche, but in a way it's happiness. I no longer think of Australia as the Sydney Opera House, the place with the big rock or the place where they call flip flops 'thongs'.

You may visit as a tourist, but this program made it feel like a home. You may do all the generic things that people want to do when visiting Australia, but what you remember the most is the people you share it with and the activities that make your family and friends say "I can't believe you actually did that".