Katy Clover is a Trent Biology major who spent a semester abroad at Southern Cross University (SCU) in Australia. Katherine got a scholarship from Scotiabank to study abroad and her in-course scholarship also carried over.
“Australia is a bio-diversity hub and as a biologist that is something that really appealed to me!” she says. “The idea of all new birds, mammals, insects, plants, reptiles sounded incredible and Australia is just crawling with life!”
SCU offers a range of biology courses and she took Wildlife Conservation, Fisheries Biology and Aquaculture Management while she was abroad. “All of my biology classes had residential component where you essentially went on extended field trips that put you into the field of study” Katy says.
“For my Aquaculture class we went down to the National Marine Science Center for 4 days, reared our own fish, and conducted feeding experiments. In Wildlife Conservation we set up a research station, camping in the bush of a big national park and conducted surveys of the fauna in the area. It was very hands on, I learned heaps.”
“The class sizes were similar to Trent and the profs were incredibly nice and always willing to chat and answer questions, similar to Trent.” The mindset, however, was quite different. “Professors did not want you to stress and were very laid back, when I got to concerned about a project or exam they would tell me to relax, spend a day at the beach and de-stress”
Katy also took an Outdoor Education elective which involved hiking and camping trips to National Parks.
The Southern Cross Lismore campus is situated in the valley of a dry rainforest. “There are always birds singing and flying around, wallabies on the way to class and lizards everywhere!”
Katy lived on residence while she was abroad. She says SCU has a college system similar to Trent and you become part of a community. “Everyone leaves their doors open, hangs out together, chills by the pool together it was great and the dorms were a very reasonable size with a full kitchen and living room!”
Living in another country was an experience she enjoyed. “At first I was disoriented about cars driving on the other side of the road, and the grocery store being different but then I adapted and loved it”. Overall she says her experience “was better than [she] ever could have expected”
“I didn’t really go in with many expectations but I did assume that I would just mostly hang out with other international students on exchange because that is what I had heard about other peoples’ exchange experiences.” However; this turned out not to be the case.
“I had many international friends but also heaps of Australian friends who showed me cool local spots and whom I visited while traveling! I learned more about Australia from them than any guide book you can read.”
Katy spent 2 months travelling Australia after her classes finished. She visited the Great Barrier Reef, spent time working in a hostel, drove the Great Ocean Road, surfed and toured Tasmania in a camper van. She then spent a month travelling New Zealand.
“I wish more than anything to still be on exchange, study abroad was the best experience of my life so far!” You learn so much about yourself and others in the process she says.
Her final advice to students considering a study abroad?
“Go somewhere you have always wanted to and give yourself ample time to travel!”