Australia offers unique experience for UNCA students

By Elizabeth ValenzuelaStaff Writer – evalenzu@unca.edu

Australia, one of the world’s largest countries, offers many travel and academic opportunities to UNC Asheville study abroad students.

Raymond Pinter, a junior, said he could not decide which place he enjoyed visiting more during his fall semester abroad in Sydney, Australia – the Great Barrier Reef or New Zealand.

“I went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, urban hiking through Sydney, and on wildlife hikes as well,” Pinter said.

Upon Pinter’s arrival in Sydney, he did not experience much, if any culture shock.

According to Pinter, the Australian culture has an American and British influence, creating an easy transition coming from America. Pinter said he did notice Australians like to party a bit more than the average UNCA student.

Before settling on Australia, Pinter originally wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, but learned he would need to take at least three more Spanish courses in order to do so.

This led Pinter to look at other English-speaking countries in which he could study abroad.

Pinter settled on the University of Sydney and enrolled in a couple courses within his major of mechatronics engineering as well as some elective courses.

According to Pinter, it was bittersweet returning to America after his semester abroad.

“It was nice to come back home, but I miss my friends I met in Sydney,” Pinter said.

Melissa Gore, a senior, said she is currently enjoying her semester abroad in Melbourne, Australia.

Since beginning her studies this spring, Gore already accomplished many of her goals.

Being granted a study abroad ambassador scholarship is one of her most recent accomplishments.

According to Gore, environmental issues are big right now in Australia because of the recent election of Tony Abbott.

“(He) is promoting forest and reef destruction in the name of economic interest,” Gore said.

This presented the opportunity for Gore to explore the political side of environmental conservation and compare it with what she experienced in the United States over the past few years under the presidency of Obama.

“My classes are interesting, the professors are all really enthusiastic and although Australia is similar to the United States compared to other countries in the world, there are subtle differences that make gaining an international education really rewarding,” Gore said.

When Gore is not in class, she takes advantage of the Queen Victoria Market, held daily in Melbourne, and travels.

“There are vendors with food and beer from around the world and a ton of fresh, local produce,” Gore said, describing the market.

As for her travels, Gore recently ventured to Phillips Island in Australia, where she saw the world’s smallest species of penguins swim in from the ocean and travel to their burrows on the island.

“There were hundreds of them. It was really amazing to watch,” Gore said.

Gore decided to visit the Flemington Race Track in Melbourne since horse racing remains a big part of the Australian culture.

“They have the famous Melbourne Cup, a race with one of the largest purses in the world,” Gore said.

Gore also spends a lot of her time at St. Kilda beach in Melbourne, learning how to wakeboard and surf.

Melanie Cusi, a sophomore, said she looks forward to studying abroad in Australia next fall.

“I don’t know why I chose Australia. It just seemed like a cool place to go and they offered a lot of courses for my biology major and neuroscience minor,” Cusi said.

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