I hope all is going well back at CI. I have finished my first semester of study abroad in Australia at the University of Queensland, and now I am on summer break here until the next semester. Since being in Australia I have had the opportunity to go to so many different places up and down the Queensland coast. In Brisbane I went to the “Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary” where I got to take my first selfie with a kangaroo and pet a koala! I got to visit more Australian animals in the Sunshine coast at Steve Iriwn’s famous “Australian Zoo.” I loved that this Zoo was centered around the conservation of Australian endangered species and educating the public about these unique animals. Down South I went to Byron Bay where I watched the sunrise over the ocean from the famous lighthouse, which is the most easterly point in all of Australia. Even when I am studying on campus I get to see a lot of natural beauty. The campus has a beautiful Great Court and during Spring the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom covering the ground in purple flowers. But by far my most favorite part of my study abroad adventure has been visiting Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. As it is one the Southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef it has not been affected as much by recent bleaching events, so the coral was breathtaking and healthy. I had the opportunity to visit this remote island through the University of Queensland’s “Australia’s Marine Environment” course. While here I conducted a small research project with fellow study abroad students. My most favorite part of Heron Island was snorkeling on the reef from sunrise to sunset. When you put your head underwater it looked like you were in a scene from “Finding Nemo,” saying hi to Dory, Marlin, and Nemo. There were the most amazing sharks, sea turtles, and colorful fish everywhere you looked. Going to Heron and learning about how at risk the corals are with increasing climate change intensified my interest in ESRM.
When not traveling around Queensland, I had the opportunity to work on a graduate student’s PhD project on bycatch of marine fauna in Indian Ocean tuna fisheries. Through this internship I got to learn more about what goes into completing a conservation-based research project and PhD. This summer I am working on a project with one of my professors from my “Conservation” course. We research how there are language barriers within the field of conservation, and how we can best bridge the gap between science and language.
My past semester has definitely been my most favorite semester in college as I have been able to experience and learn so much by being in a different country as special as Australia!