Why did you decide to study abroad with GlobaLinks' in Australia?
Jason: Back at my home university, Cal Poly, located along the Pacific Coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles, I have been studying Environmental Management. This has included the study of native trees, ecology, and factors that go into environmental law in California. I felt that studying abroad during the summer would be a unique experience that could improve my understanding of environmental studies in the United States. I just knew Australia would be the place to spend 6 weeks. I only knew about koalas, Men At Work, and the Australian Tennis Open prior to my arrival in the Land Down Under!
During my research of study abroad organizations, I found the Australian Experience: Environmental Issues program to be the fit my needs as a tourist and student. The website mentioned a short description of Gold Coast, a place we would be stationed, “world-renowned destinations for surfers and tourists, but also home to magnificent forests and marine parks.” This is everything I could every ask for.
I am a huge fan of the outdoors and spend time in the States hiking, kayaking, swimming, and wandering throughout pristine wilderness as much as possible. How could I turn down a program that incorporates the exploration of the Great Barrier Reef, Eucalypt Forests, and marvelous sand dune islands? The amount of variety of environmental explorations and studies listed got my attention and lead me to discover the GlobaLinks experience.
What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Jason: I spent 6 total weeks in Australia and 2 weeks following the study abroad program. Upon boarding down sand dunes, swimming out a sea with turtles, and walking the isolated beaches at sunset, I was able to grasp how lucky my fellow travelling mates and I were for being part of the Aussie Experience. Although I was 8,000 miles away from home, I felt so loved by the group, instructors, and culture as a whole.
Everyday, our schedule changed and we were always on the move in Queensland seeing new sights. At Lady Elliot Island we had to work on projects during our 5-day stay. These “projects” basically included an 8 a.m. wake up call to grab breakfast, jump into our wet suits, snorkel with current from one side of the island to the other, take pictures of beautiful corals/sea life, and finally present our facts and photos to the entire group. Oh how difficult and painfully excruciating this was!! Days like these proved to me how special of a trip I was on and more a reason to embrace this trip as I continue in my life.
It was also very interesting getting to know everybody on my trip, kids coming from all corners of the United States. I would say I got along with everybody very well and today, we all continue a Facebook page to post funny stories from our trip. The separation from my life back 8,000 miles away in California was so worth it!
How has this experience impacted your future?
Jason: As I heard prior to my departure to the trip, studying abroad is going to be the best thing that ever happened to you and it will encourage future travelling on your part. These two facts are very much true. As I tell my friends and family of all the awe-inspiring national parks and jewels I was able to visit in Australia, it makes them so jealous. These stories I have will stick with me forever and ever.
Professionally, I can relate to anybody in my future career that has travelled the world or studied abroad. It was a turning point in my life! I had visited many regions of the world with my family and previous academic programs. However, the independence that I gained through this trip was perfect. I now know what it is like to be so far away from home and hope to revisit Australia and continue holding onto the great bond I share for the Land Down Under.
I will continue to embrace this wonderful experience I took part in during the Summer of 2011 with GlobaLinks. I have made friends that I hope to hold onto for years to come. Academically, I have found another area of the globe that strongly believes in environmental conservation during a time when our natural resources keep on dwindling.