I have lived in Wisconsin, USA all of my life but I have always been up for an adventure. When I saw that there was an availability for me to study abroad this year I immediately knew that I was going to Australia. I have always wanted to visit Australia so when I saw the exchange to Southern Cross University I seized this opportunity to cross this adventure off of my bucket list. After breaking the news to my friends and family I gathered a backpack of stuff and headed off to the opposite side of the world.
After an exhausting flight and a two-day layover in Nadi, Fiji, I arrived at Orion College, the student accommodation in Lismore. I was blown away by the amount of wildlife on campus and how well the students were able coexist with the plants and animals. Within the first week I was introduced to all the koalas at the campus koala hospital and I was also able to find wallabies on the path on my daily walk to school. Coming from Wisconsin, USA, I was intrigued by all the strange and new wildlife that I encountered in my everyday life. In the mornings I was woken up by the sound of parrots outside of my window and in the evenings the night sky was home to the bats which gracefully glide through the air catching bugs. The campus is also home to a large number of lizards and insects. As an environmental science major all of this wildlife sets a perfect environment for me to study in. It really is fantastic to learn about plants and animals in class and then be able to walk outside and see those same things in your own backyard.
The people of SCU have been very kind and generous. They are always eager to help you with anything that you need and make you feel comfortable and at home. I have made many friends throughout these past weeks and have been lucky enough to see quite a bit of the surrounding area of Lismore. During orientation week there is stuff for everyone to do. There are always people down by the pool who are more than happy to have you join in the fun. For those who prefer not to drink there are a lot of school-sponsored trips and even some cool local areas to explore. During my week when I wasn't down by the pool I was out on the road with my fellow classmates. I was able to visit the Currumbin wildlife sanctuary and fulfil my lifelong dream of holding a koala and petting the kangaroos that they have roaming around the park. I also was able to find a ride out to a nearby quarry where I went cliff jumping with new friends.
Overall I would recommend SCU to any students who love nature and are seeking adventure. There are so many places to explore and many people who are willing to accompany you and show you around. It really is hard not to have a good time here. Although I'm nine thousand miles away from home I feel that I have found a second home here in Australia.
-- Evan Kebus, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, February 2017