Alumni Spotlight: Erin Kelleher


Erin was a Senior at Daemen College who just recently graduated with a Bachelors in Health Promotion, Health, and Fitness. Traveling to Australia was her first time traveling internationally.

Why did you choose this program?

I have always wanted to travel to Australia. When I came upon the Semester on the Gold Coast, through CIS, I knew it would be a perfect fit. Bond University, where I attended for the semester, was very similar to my home college thus making the transition very easy. This program also fit along with the semester at home, so I was able to come home and graduate. CIS also offered many different group excursions during the program while in Australia.

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

The application process and pre-departure webinar was very straight forward and went through a step by step process. We got regular emails notifying us what was needed to be done and by when. CIS provided and set up our housing based on what we recommended to have. Our flights and VISA application were done on our own, but we were told when we needed them by and where we were to travel to. Both my Study Abroad advisor from my home college and CIS were very helpful in completing the process.

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

Travel and experience as much as you can, but in your budget! Time goes by so fast while abroad, so try as many things as possible especially those you wouldn't normally do!

Also, one of my biggest pieces of advice is to go alone. This may seem scary, but I was able to grow more independently as a person and meet so many amazing people during my time abroad. It makes it your own experience that you can tell people about.

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

Class schedules ranged from different times, but you are bound to have one or two days off of classes (Mon-Fri). Classes are usually over by mid-afternoon which gives you plenty of time to go explore the city or a new beach along the coast. Weekends were the time to travel, unless you don't mind skipping a couple of classes during the week… just don't fall behind on class work!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Even though one of my biggest pieces of advice was to study abroad alone, this was also one of my biggest fears in the beginning. I had never traveled alone, let alone across the world. However, throughout my travels, I was able to meet different people who were in the same boat as me.

You learn so much about yourself and your boundaries when out alone in an unfamiliar area. In the end, it was the greatest decision I had ever made.

It helped me to realize how much is out there in the world, and I can't wait for next travel experience!

What were some of your highlights from studying abroad?

Driving on the Great Ocean Road. The beaches, coastline, and landmarks along the drive were absolutely incredible. Then driving back at night, the sky was lit up with a number of stars I’ve never seen before. Also, driving on the left side of the road is not hard at all!

While in Australia, I was also able to cross off some things I had on my bucket list which included climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef!