Baylor in Australia offers unique experiences

By Sierra Christerson | Contributor

Kangaroos, koalas and the most deadly animals on Earth. This is what I equated with Australia when I first heard about the Bears Abroad Baylor in Australia program. Would I be running for my life through the Outback? Or have to learn how to suck venom out of a snake bite? Actually, far from it.

During my month-long study abroad experience in Queensland, Australia, I snorkeled and scuba-dived the Great Barrier Reef three times, hiked to the bottom of the country’s largest single drop waterfall and camped out two nights in the Outback. And the best part? I got six hours of environmental science credit for it.

The Baylor in Australia program is far from your average study abroad. Instead of staying in dorms on a foreign university’s campus, the program is designed to be hands-on.

Out of the 30 days I spent in Queensland, I was in a lecture room for two days. The rest of the time I spent traveling Queensland, learning about the impacts of humans and sustaining the natural environment. I was surprised at how much I learned about Australian culture from my farm stay with a local family. I learned the importance of fire and how it was used by Aboriginal people, how dense forests protected the ecosystem from cyclones, and how the trees I walked among in the Daintree rainforest was once dinosaur food. The first-hand experience was meaningful and allowed me to develop my critical and analytical skills through field studies, which provided relevance to what I learned in my lectures.

As a Baylor student, I felt compelled to share my experience and promote study abroad to all students in all majors. After all the benefits I received from the program, including an internship with American Universities International Programs, I can truly say that studying abroad in Australia was the best college experience I have had. It opened my eyes to a new culture, new issues and new experiences.

From me to you, I recommend studying abroad during your time here at Baylor. Whether it is a month long or a semester long, the experience is more than worth it. Traveling abroad will expand your mind and sense of perspective. Not only will it leave a lasting impact, but it will also leave you with a unique story to share once you get back to campus!

Sierra Christerson is a sophomore marketing major from Bedford, N.H.