While my study abroad experience at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia was not what I pictured my time abroad in Australia to be, my experience has truly become a part of who I am and I wouldn't change that for the world. I loved being in a more remote location and having the option to take a 20 minute boat ride to Magnetic Island for some SCUBA diving and beach time whenever I had free time. My classes brought us out to the Great Barrier Reef the first weekend I was there and we spent the whole semester analyzing the data we collected. My classes, such as biological oceanography and evolution of reef fishes, were so detailed and atypical that I was able to learn so many things I would have never had the opportunity to if I didn't study abroad. When I back to my home university, I was easily able to pick up internships and research positions because I had such in depth knowledge of these topics. While JCU isn't this most exciting place to be, it was still a lot of fun living in a dorm with all Australians, learning their culture, and making life long friendships. Now, over a year after completing my program, I still talk to them on a regular basis and can't wait to go back and visit them, or have them visit me in the States. Additionally, IFSA - Butler had incredible events planned throughout the semester from going to rugby games and hiking Wallaman falls to a dinner cruise around the Sydney Harbour-- we were truly spoiled. The university also gives you long enough breaks to travel even more outside of where your program is. My friends and I went to New Zealand and Bali, as well as traveled all over the East Coast of Australia. Every trip we went on, we had to log it with our program coordinator (Leanne, who was awesome!) who would periodically check in to make sure we were safe and doing okay. It was reassuring having someone on the other side of the world with us ready with answers to all of our questions and always looking out for us. It gave my parents a peace of mind as well. The biggest thing I gained from studying abroad in Australia was independence. As I am graduating from my home university in 3 days I feel fully prepared for anything the real world might throw at me. I am eager to travel more, visit more places around the world and continue learning through these experiences before I go back to school to earn my masters. Traveling, I believe, is the best way to learn more about yourself and the world we live in, which I feel will give me the experience I need to excel in Grad school and my future career.
How can this program be improved?
My only complaint during my time there was the food. I wish I was given the option to cook my own food or the dining hall had more food options, as I found it very difficult to eat healthy.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would