Study Abroad Step reflection

Brian Hood

Step Reflection

For my project I took a study abroad to Australia to take a Human Societies and environmental course. This was to cover studying the interactions of The Australian people and their relationships between each other and their ecosystem with a focus on sustainability, wildlife, and aboriginal culture. Some activities we did were conduct organism studies on the Great Barrier Reef, on wild koala populations, and ecosystem restoration on aboriginal reserves. We met many professionals and natives that knew much about various topics from agriculture to government.

I Learned that Australia has many of the same issues that America currently has. Understanding how to conduct lasting change in policy and in societies behavior takes the cooperation of lawmakers, citizens, and scientists to solve problems and improve the increasing environmental hazards that modern society faces. When conducting surveys on the reef and in the outback we got to experience first hand how data is collected and most importantly how that data is then analyzed and used to make changes. For example, when we surveyed fish and ocean wildlife, we then could use that data to determine the health of various zones on the reef. We had debates after the fact to try to figure out what changes could be made to improve it and how to make compromises with invested groups.

Something that changed my view of myself was the fact that moving around and having all these very different experiences allowed me to become more confidant in my ability to adapt to new situations. I now am more comfortable traveling and have the tools to engage with very different cultures and people. Australians, although having a very similar culture to Americans, are different in certain ways as well. These differences that I was able to see allowed me to learn how to change my own behavior to adapt to their culture and show respect. I think this is very important in traveling to full embrace the new culture. I had the opportunity to live at a family farm for several days and work on it, helping to feed animals and several other things. This I would never have done in the Us but it gave me perspective on why Australians thing a certain way.

For this course, our group travelled up and down the coast of North Queensland and stayed in many forms of housing fro tents and hostels, to apartments and hotels. In these living quarters we stayed in close proximity to each other for a month and became very good friends which helped when we had to work on projects together. There were many group exercises that allowed me to brush up on my teamwork skills. In college we don’t often get those opportunities so this was important because in the work environment, collaboration is common and it is really important to know how to do it efficiently and effectively.

The aboriginal experience was one very similar to the struggles African Americans and native Americans face in America. The history of violence, enslavement, and racism is something I saw a lot of in country and shed light on some issues that need to be fixed in the US. The aboriginals explained to us their culture and their deep connection to the land that was uprooted when white settlers cam and was very moving. It affected me greatly and made me want to be involved more in human rights issues that plague society today. It gave me a new outlook on how I view people in general.

This project allowed me to experience a country that I never would have otherwise been able to. The work, science, and social skills that I gained will be quite useful in my future career and will give me a heads up on my resume. Meeting all these wonderful people and witnessing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world has been life changing and I will definitely head Back to the Outback in the future.