I studied abroad through USAC at Griffith University Nathan campus in Brisbane, Australia. There were three Griffith campuses to choose from but I chose Nathan because it offered on campus housing and is located inside a national forest reserve, so there was plenty of wildlife on campus like koalas, lace monitors, and kookaburras! The on-campus housing was a bit of a shock at first because it was co-ed with 8 people and a shared bathroom and no air conditioning, but I got used to the bathroom arrangement and learned to love the benefits of window only air conditioning since having the window open all the time meant I could often hear the unique laugh of the kookaburra and enjoy the scents of the forest in rare rainy moments!
The campus has a bus stop that I could use to get anywhere I needed to go in the city with the use of a prepaid bus card, including to the grocery stores and shops, the bars and clubs, and to the train station to get to the beaches. I visited both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast beaches and would recommend GC for thrift stores/Op shops, nightlife, and more variety of activities and food options as it is a larger city than Sunny coast. Sunny coast is a smaller but richer area with cute boutiques and finer dining options and was by far my favorite beach with its white sand and calmer waves. There is also a nice national park right next to the beach called Noosa Heads National Park where there are nice trails and you can learn about some of the Indigenous History. I also stayed in the Hervey Bay area over the Easter break with an Australian friend and her family and enjoyed the local beach there and rode horses in the high tide. The university offered two trips to the Australia Zoo while I was there for a very very good deal which I would highly recommend. The wombats were my absolute favorite at the zoo. I made it out to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane as well and would recommend their dingo and python photo op experiences. Griffith University was amazing for providing weekly events on and off campus, including weekly markets and food trucks. They had arts and crafts events, petting zoo events, and once brought in Australian animals on campus where I got to pet a wombat!
Being a gluten-free vegan is always hard, but especially when traveling to foreign countries. Luckily I was able to make due fairly well in Australia as most of their restaurants were very clear about labeling GF and V options and were generally more conscious and accepting than many places in America. The grocery stores were a bit harder though and I found that woolies was the best place to go for the most vegan options. I absolutely loved how much more eco conscious they are in general over there with recycling, solar panels everywhere, less air conditioning, and diminishing single use plastics. While it is true that Australians are more easy going and accepting, they are not really big fans of Americans and most will bring up how stupid they think Americans are especially when it comes to politics and guns, so if you lean more conservatively, I would recommend keeping your political opinions to yourself if you want to make friends with the locals and prepare yourself to be the butt of the American jokes often when you meet new people. The vast majority of them don’t mean any harm, it is just part of their culture to tease and overall they tease harder and insult way better than the majority of Americans. They are a very proud people whose culture is more about the benefit of the community instead of the benefit of the individual. I am very honored to have gotten the privilege to be a part of that community for a while and would highly recommend the experience to any one with a big heart and an open mind.
Josie Bruxvoort (BS HHP SORT Management) spent the Spring 2023 semester studying abroad in Gold Coast, Australia through USAC. Josie had the following to say about studying abroad, “I’ve talked to many people about their college experiences, and the biggest regret most of them have is not studying abroad. Don’t regret it, just do it!”
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