B.A. in Social Ecology; Minor in Educational Studies
School of Education
January 1, 2011
“As a result of my time overseas I’ve become more passionate about education.”
Ever since I started attending UC Irvine nearly four years ago, I’ve strived to live by these words of wisdom by Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Never did these words play such a significant role in my life than the five months I spent studying abroad in the beautiful country of Australia.
My fascination with Australia began in my 9th grade geography class when I had to choose a country that I knew very little or absolutely nothing about and conduct a class project on that place. After researching “The Land Down Under,” I fell in love with its natural landscapes, wildlife, and Aussie jargon. Once I began studying at UC Irvine, I learned about the wonderful opportunities the university provides in studying abroad in Australia. After doing my research on the process of studying abroad, I knew it was something I had to experience, and if I neglected to do it, I would always regret it in the future.
By the middle of my third year in college, I realized just how comfortable I had become with life at UC Irvine. I had discovered what I was academically passionate about and declared my major as Social Ecology with minors in Urban and Regional Planning and Educational Studies. I had become greatly involved in campus organizations, such as the Teachers of Tomorrow Club and the Campus Representatives Program, and acquired work experience in areas that connected me closer to campus life. UCI had become my home and I desired to have a new experience that would “sail [me] away from the safe harbor” of Southern California.
Although it was difficult to leave my family and friends and move to a country where I knew absolutely no one, I was ready for the adventure that lay ahead. I quickly learned to embrace getting lost in an unknown city, being the only person in a classroom with an American accent, and trying exotic foods such as Vegemite, an Aussie favorite made from yeast extract.
I lived in Brisbane, a city located in the central eastern portion of the country, and attended the University of Queensland. I took two courses in Environmental Studies and two courses in Educational Studies, which all fulfilled requirements for my UC Irvine major and minors. Studying at the University of Queensland was similar to, yet different from my previous studies. For example, my courses stressed the importance of field research and alternative forms of learning. In my Youth, Sport, and Physical Culture class, we researched whether or not alternative forms of physical movement should be incorporated into Australian school curriculum. One of the highlights of this class was participating in Parkour (free running) workshops to examine if it would be a good form of exercise and physical education in schools. I never thought I would be in a class where I got credit for climbing over walls, rolling on the ground, and jumping over ledges! Also, my final project for this class consisted of researching the surf culture in Australia, allowing me to go on surf trips throughout the country and observing and analyzing youth involvement and interest in the physical activity. Even though the final paper had a set limit of being no more than 20 pages long, I felt like I could have written an entire novel on the subject because it was so fascinating to me.
Perhaps one of the most valuable experiences a student can have while studying abroad is the learning that takes place outside of the classroom and is not for academic credit. For example, I was very fortunate to have taken numerous trips throughout the country. Whether it was scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, hiking and learning how to play the didgeridoo in the Outback, or swimming in rapids in the rainforests of Cairns, each experience taught me about an aspect of Australian culture I had never known before. Everyday I learned something new about Australian culture, as well as something new about myself.
As someone studying in the field of education, I found it extremely rewarding to learn about educational systems overseas. The Department of Education at UC Irvine helped to make one of my wildest dreams a reality by encouraging me to study abroad. As a result of my time overseas, I’ve become more passionate about education and how important it is on a global scale. After graduation this spring, I plan on combining my passion for education and my newfound love of travel by getting involved with an organization that would provide me the opportunity to teach overseas. Following along with the words of Mark Twain, it’s important for oneself to continue to explore, dream, and discover. Cheers!