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Why did you decide to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad in Australia to learn more about the culture, schooling, and educational practices in this country. As a doctoral student, I also used this opportunity to mentor undergraduate students, present research, and conduct research.

Tell us about the program you went on

I traveled to Australia with the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The academic objectives were to:
1. increase our knowledge of the K-12 and University educational systems in Australia,
2. Increase our awareness of the unique challenges of rural and urban education in international settings,
3. Improve research skills by designing, collecting, summarizing and presenting data on the study abroad experiences in Australia, and
4. Gain greater insights about our own perspectives of education and role of being a teacher (or teacher educator).

We used a number of various housing accommodations during our trip including: hotels, a motel/small inn, a hostel, and apartment style living. 
We participated in a number of excursions including: snorkeling/scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the Blue Mountains, petting/holding Kangaroo and Koalas at the Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, bus/walking tours through Sydney, visits to a number of schools and universities, among a host of other activities!

How did you pay for your study abroad experience?

I was fortunate enough to have my study abroad experience funded through a number of scholarships and grants. I paid a small portion out of pocket.

What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?

I wish I would have been more prepared to travel with such a large group (30)!! The logistics of traveling abroad with a group this size were very complicated, and I was not prepared!

Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?


How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?

This study abroad experience in particular, taught me a lot about myself in terms of how well I travel in large groups, how much I value my personal/quiet time, how important these opportunities are for undergraduate students, and how useful these opportunities are for doc students like myself. Having presented at a professional conference, and mentored students while abroad, I feel prepared to do the same as a future faculty member.

What was the most memorable moment of studying abroad?

Snorkeling in the GBR was the most memorable moment of studying abroad for me. I was a little nervous at first, but my colleagues and students encouraged me, supported me, and cheered me on throughout the entire experience, which definitely made it very memorable for me!

How was the entertainment and nightlife?

I was so exhausted each and every day after visiting schools, touring cities, and keeping up with my coursework/research responsibilities back at home, that I didm;t

In what way do you feel your experience abroad has prepared you for your future career? (Think both tangible things like language acquisition and intangible like learning to work with people who are very different from you)

This experience has prepared me to be a future faculty member who can lead a study abroad tour, if given the opportunity. While abroad, I was able to serve as a student mentor, teaching assistant, organizer, etc. I believe all of these skills and experiences will be especially beneficial for me in the future.

Would you recommend the program you went on, if so why??

YES! Our program included a very nice balance of academic activities (school visits), "tourist activities"(snorkeling, hiking)  professional activities (conferences), and free time for personal exploration. I think this delicate balance was instrumental in our having a great experience.

What advice do you have for students thinking about study abroad?

1. If it is your first trip abroad, consider a short winter or summer trip.
2. Be open-minded
3. Be ready to learn
4. Connect with the locals
5. Always reflect
6. Detach from technology
7. Participate in activities that connect with your future career goals
8. Always have fun!!

Any additional comments or thoughts that you have about your study abroad experience

Studying abroad in Australia was an excellent experience!! I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have gone, and I have a lifetime of memories and experiences to share from down under!

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