Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology

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This program explores the terrestrial and marine ecosystems of far North Queensland and the relationship of traditional and contemporary human cultures with the environment. Students interact with scientists and local experts from organizations such as the Lizard Island Research Station and the Wet Tropics Management Authority to gain a firsthand understanding of ongoing conservation efforts in an exceptionally diverse environment.

The program's field-based modules allow students to:

examine the diversity of habitats and environments within the Wet Tropics Bioregion,
study coral reef conservation and management issues, and
experience traditional Aboriginal lifestyles and culture.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Exploring Australia's Biodiversity

From the first day we donned our rain gear and headed into the rainforest, this program was full of surprises. There are few places on earth as magical as the tropical rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, and this program allowed me to explore both with the wisdom of my Aboriginal elders always in mind. The program was my first experience working in the field in the natural sciences, and from data collection to bird identification to searching for platypus and tree-kangaroos, there was never a day that I didn't learn something new and wonderful about the natural world. The independence I gained during this program has served me well in the years since; it has also inspired my now constant wanderlust and craving to learn more about new cultures, places, geographies, ecologies, and people. The most memorable experience from my semester abroad was camping with two Aboriginal elders in the schlerophyll forest of Far North Queensland and being given my own Aboriginal name, Guyibera, which arrived to Russell in the Dreamtime. I had only known Russell for a few hours, but he knew me well enough to give me a name that fit me perfectly. I cherish both that moment and the name itself. This is an experience I never could have had in a different type of study abroad semester. I am continually grateful for everything I learned with SIT and for the path it helped to shape as I've continued my education and career.

What would you improve about this program?
I remember the most difficult part of the program being searching for an ISP advisor. I remember wishing I had more guidance in this task or learned more about staff's in-country connections, but ultimately being satisfied with the advisor I identified, the project I created, and completing the whole process largely independently.
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