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Australia - My Journey Down Under by Julie Ivicic, Animal Science major, minoring in Equine Science and International Agriculture

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Posted: October 8, 2015

Traveling abroad to Australia…the experience of a lifetime.
I made friends with a Wallaby at Maru Koala and Animal Park in Victoria, Australia

I made friends with a Wallaby at Maru Koala and Animal Park in Victoria, Australia

When I came to Penn State I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I never thought it would actually happen.  I still remember getting the email about the program and realizing how perfectly it would fit into my course plan.  I applied, got accepted, and was on my way!  I have never been overseas and I was a bit nervous.  After our first flight was cancelled I became even more nervous.  Two days later I was on my way again.  Traveling to Australia was the longest flight of my life, but I had to get there somehow.  As soon as I stepped off the plane it was like I walked into an oven.  We experienced temperatures as high as 114 degrees while it was -12 degrees back at home.  I was not complaining about this weather one bit!

During this five-week program I traveled all around the Southeastern side of Australia.  My first two weeks were spent in Melbourne where I stayed in a dorm building with the other fourteen students who were in the program.  These weeks consisted of lectures from animal science professors at the University of Melbourne.  I learned so much information about agriculture, animal welfare, and the history of Australia.  Learning about another country while actually being in that country is a truly amazing experience; it makes the learning process that much better. 

Our third week in Australia was spent in Dookie.  We took a coach bus to get there and we had the most amazing bus driver named Barry.  This man was amazing; he has driven on every road in Australia except for one since he would need a guide and a special vehicle to get through it.  We traveled along the famous Great Ocean Road where I saw the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen.  During our week in Dookie we visited various different farms throughout the countryside.  Their farming is very different compared to our farming here in the United States.  During our fourth week in Australia I lived with an Australian family in Wagga Wagga.  They were some of the nicest people I have ever met.  This was one of my favorite experiences of the trip because I really had the opportunity to see what it was like living in Australia.  We continued visiting various farms and having lectures, but we also did so many fun things with our family and that the week flew by.  My “parents” took us to hike Mount Kosciuszko, which is the tallest point in Australia.  This area is located in the Snowy Mountains and the scenery was gorgeous.  

Leaving my host family was much more difficult that I thought it would be, they had been my “home away from home.”  Once we left them, we were headed for Sydney to see the city!  This was the last part of our trip so we wanted to make it memorable.  We saw the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which were even more amazing to see at night.  We walked all over the city to see as much of it as we possibly could.  Saying goodbye to this grand country was hard, but when the time came I was ready to head back home to see my family.  This experience was truly that of a lifetime.  I learned so much about myself and I learned that I love to travel.  I think that my leadership and communication skills have increased greatly with this trip.  Also I have learned how to work better in a team thanks to constantly being in a group as we traveled around.   I have already had to describe my experience to employers because they were curious as to what I learned while I was there.  They wanted to know what was different and what life was like down under.  This experience has given me a greater perspective about the world and the agriculture industry.