As AUIP Maymester and summer programs quickly approach, our student blogging program is accepting applications. If you’re a student with a passion for writing, photography or videography, or just simply enjoy sharing your experiences with a vast audience, then we encourage you to apply.

AUIP will select student bloggers for each destination in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand as a way for you to voice your international education opportunity to people interested in study abroad and Oceania. No prior knowledge of blogging is required.

As a blogger, you could write about all the friends you make Down Under!

As a blogger, you could write about all the friends you make Down Under!

Full details on the blogging role entail:

Eligibility: Students must be currently enrolled on an AUIP 2014 program with one of our partner institutions in the United States.

Commitment: The commitment is to write a blog at least once before departure and then one time per week for the duration of your study program and also to create at least one video blog within two months of returning to the United States.

Application Process: Interested students should complete the 2014 AUIP Student Blog Application and AUIP Student Blog Contract by May 2, 2014. Faculty advisors at our partner institutions will likely have emailed this to students already. Selected bloggers will receive further guidance and support during their blogging.If you need a copy of the materials, email eleanor@auip.com.

We look forward to receiving your application!


Devan Crane, the Pirates Abroad marketing intern, writes:

ECU/Clemson 2013Many people know a few common phrases from the long lists of Australian lingo, such as “G’day” meaning “hello,” but you may not realize how different some phrases really are. After being immersed into the lingo during my North Queensland program, I picked up some vocabulary that I heard frequently and tried bringing it back to the States. Most people are very confused when I try to use these words, but it is one fun thing I brought back from my trip to Australia and keeps the memory alive. Here are a few of my favorites. Test your knowledge and see how many you might know!

Brekky: breakfast

Bushie: someone who lives in the Bush (Outback)

Chemist: drug store

Dunny: outside lavatory

Fair go: a chance (“give a bloke a fair go”)

Joey: baby kangaroo

Jumper: pull-over sweater

Kangaroos loose in the top paddock: intellectually inadequate (“he’s got kangaroos loose in the top paddock”)

Macca’s: McDonald’s

Mate: buddy, friend

Mozzie: mosquito

No worries: no problem

Pie: meat pot pie on the go…it is delicious

Sunnies: sunglasses

Ta: thanks

Tea: dinner

Thongs: cheap rubber flip-flops

Uni: university

Even though there was no language barrier, learning the lingo made me feel more incorporated into the local culture. Plus, Australians love to listen to Americans, or any other visitors for that matter, try to use their lingo. While I was in Cairns at the program’s end, I met people from all over the world. Sitting down and talking to them helped me realize that the world is a much bigger place than I’d imagined and that there are millions and millions of people out there that I haven’t met yet. Many more lingos await my international travels!

During the Fiji study abroad program, students participate in river kayaking on the main island of Viti Levu. In previous years, AUIP groups have kayaked down the Luva River in the Namosi Highlands region. While the kayaking aspect will be much the same as before, this year’s groups will have the opportunity to paddle down an entirely different area of the Navua River.

Paddling through river rapids in Fiji

Paddling through river rapids in Fiji

In an exclusive first release, here are full details of what this year’s students will experience on this excursion down the Navua River. Upon reaching the village of Wainadiro, the group will head through thick forests to the riverbank. After hearing a full safety briefing, donning the provided life jackets and helmets and practicing paddling in calm water, students will head downstream in kayaks and rafts.

This portion of the middle Navua River passes through some inland villages, showcasing how people survive in the remote region. Some villagers might be fishing along the river, meanwhile children will almost surely be swimming in it for fun. Don’t be surprised if some of the children swim right up to the side of your kayak or raft to say “BULA!”

Along the way, the group will stop at a remarkable waterfall alongside the river. Disembarking from the kayaks and rafts allows everyone the chance to swim beneath the gorgeous waterfall and admire the scenic spot. Of course, snapping some photos under this picturesque waterfall will be a must.

After enjoying more paddling, a lunch break and free time for swimming, the day concludes downstream on the Navua River. We can’t wait to hear all the adventure that is sure to be had on this latest component of the Fiji program.

Sierra Mayer, the Grizzlies Abroad marketing intern and who studied in Fiji last summer, shared these tips with us so students can prepare for the river kayaking

Enjoying the float down a calmer section of river

Enjoying the float down a calmer section of river


  • Be sure to wear shoes or sandals that are attached securely to your feet and also provide protection. Strap-on sandals, such as Tevas or Chacos, work very well since your shoes will be getting wet. Definitely avoid wearing flip-flops.
  • Wearing a swimsuit with lightweight clothing, such as shorts and a T-shirt, overtop is suitable. Also, pack a dry change of clothes to put on after exiting the river. Dry bags will be provided for you to store your dry clothes in.
  • If you have one, bring a waterproof camera with you to capture all the memorable moments of the day. If you don’t have one, thankfully you can rely on the river kayaking staff who will be taking photos throughout the day and making them available for purchase at the end.
  • Most importantly, enjoy yourself and the incredible scenery around you. And remember to thank your river guides at the day’s end; they’re awesome and will ensure you have a blast.

Michaela Mills, the Tigers Abroad marketing intern, writes:

When Australia program alumni are asked to name their favorite program location, most respond the Great Barrier Reef or possibly the farmstays. However a spot mentioned less frequently but that’s equally as remarkable is Hidden Valley. Located on the western slope of the Paluma Range in Queensland, Hidden Valley provides an experience in the Australian bush like none other.

Solar panels at Hidden Valley Cabins

Solar panels at Hidden Valley Cabins

Our guide Ross, who also operates Hidden Valley Cabins where we stayed, was undoubtedly one of my favorite guides of the entire program. After retrieving our group from Townsville, Ross drove us northwest toward Hidden Valley. Along the way he told us the most interesting facts from topics such as rugby to the typical type of music they listened to and everything in between. We made a couple stops on the way at beautiful waterfalls and a huge tree that we could step inside! Upon arrival at Hidden Valley Cabins, Ross’ parents, Ian and Bonnie, greeted us with a hearty lunch, such a great way to win over a group of college kids! The food at Hidden Valley  was out of this world, seriously hands down the best food on the entire program.

While at Hidden Valley, we learned about solar power, the efficiency behind it and the installation and operation costs. Hidden Valley is Australia’s first solar-powered resort, so where better to learn about solar power. The next day we hiked into the beautiful Running River Gorge, which I thought even resembled the Grand Canyon.

Running River Gorge

Running River Gorge

Our group bonded over activities in the evenings as well. Some people watched rugby with Ross and Ian, a lot of us played pool together, and often we would sit under the gazebo and do our modules together. I also took the time to talk to Ross more about the Australian culture and his life in general, which I highly recommend to do with all the guides throughout the program. Like most Australians, the guides are extremely friendly and will answer any questions you have. I truly miss Hidden Valley and the amazing McLennan family who operate it. If you’re headed on the North Queensland program this summer, then get excited to meet them and enjoy your time in the Australian bush!

Sierra Mayer, the Grizzlies Abroad marketing intern, writes:

Your friends influence your daily decisions. We all have had this happen to us in one way or another. For me, I was sitting in one of my two-hundred-person lecture hall classes with a good friend when we saw a presentation about the unique opportunity to earn three upper-division credits while traveling in Fiji. We joked at the time about going on the program just to be able to visit Fiji, but eventually our joke turned into a reality. Going on a trip, especially study abroad, with a friend has its ups and downs.

Friendships, both old and new, flourishing on study abroad

Friendships, both old and new, flourishing on study abroad

One positive about studying overseas with a friend is that it is comforting to know that you will know someone on the trip. This gives you the assurance you have someone from the beginning if something goes wrong, if you are scared of flying, if you’re shy and slow to make friends or if going somewhere new makes you nervous. Because, in the end, it always helps to have a familiar face around.

Another pro is that you’ll be sharing these amazing moments with a close friend and know that for years to come you’ll be able to reminisce together. Upon returning home, your other friends won’t know every detail and funny moment from your study abroad, so it’s enjoyable to have someone else to recount these memories with.

The cons of going with a friend really depend on the degree of your friendship and the length of the program. My friend and I have a strong bond, but equally know how to spend time apart. Also, the short nature of the Fiji program meant we weren’t together for a serious length of time. However, we saw other friendships on the program that struggled. Some best friends studying together on the program were so dependent on each other that they failed to fully interact with others and embrace the opportunities to meet new people. On a longer program, such as the 3.5-week Australia program, you could risk getting annoyed with your friend and potentially hurting your friendship long-term.

Ultimately, you need to think about your friendship and how it will function overseas. How long can you spend with this friend without needing some time apart? Are you independent enough to also branch out and make other friends? These are a few things to consider in the process.

From my experience, studying abroad with a friend was fun and we still made other friends on the program. Fellow intern Alex had a positive experience studying abroad with a friend as well. We came home with our new friends and our experience in our hearts. My friend and I talk about our study abroad all the time and agree it was the best adventure we have convinced each other to go on.

Alex Munoz, the Illinois Abroad marketing intern, writes:

Upon being accepted into last summer’s New Zealand Adventure Recreation and Tourism program, I did not know what to expect. I originally applied for the program because several students who had gone on it the previous year had nothing but good things to say about it. I had always wanted to study abroad, so I figured this was my chance. My classmates on the program include twenty-four University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students and twelve University of Florida ones.

New Zealand landscapeI was already very good friends with one of the girls also studying on the program, which gave me more comfort about going to a different country. I originally expected to be attached at the hip with her, however I was very wrong. The experience of building new friendships was an everlasting experience. Not only did I become very close with those of us from the University of Illinois, but I also formed strong friendships with individuals from the University of Florida. Considering we were a very lively bunch, there was never a boring moment. Still to this day we talk on a regular basis.

Before going on the program, I was quite uneducated about New Zealand. In fact, the only facts I knew about the country came from the pre-departure quiz that had to be complete upon arrival. These were simple, fun facts about population, geography and culture that everyone traveling to the country should learn. I envisioned this study abroad to be more of a sightseeing program than a classroom, learning experience.

However, my views and education on the country quickly changed within the first couple of days in New Zealand. I had already learned more than I had imagined and seen the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. My prediction of the program being more sightseeing than educational was very wrong.Weaving

During this study abroad program, the outdoors and our surroundings was the classroom. It was truly unbelievable to combine both activities and learning together. Many study abroad programs do not get the privilege of actually seeing and doing things that they are learning about. A few categories that we learned about and then encountered were ecotourism companies, the Maori people, native flora and fauna, adventure tourism and impacts on the environment.

If there is one piece of advice that I could give to anyone who is considering going abroad is to simply go. Education can only take your further in life and open up your mind.

And best of all, applications for the New Zealand Adventure Recreation and Tourism 2014 program are still being accepted. To apply, visit www.illinoisabroad.org or click here.

Cassie Meakin, Hokies Abroad marketing intern, writes:

The Great Barrier Reef is not only a national symbol for Australia, it is also home to hundreds of species of coral and thousands of species of fish. While on the reef, my Hokes Abroad program participated in transect measurements along different sections of the reef. An important discussion topic while conducting research was the impact humans have on the reef ecosystem.

Virginia Tech goes underwater

Virginia Tech goes underwater

One of our field guides, Jimmy White, spoke to us about ecotourism’s effects on the reef. While this industry provides substantial monetary stability for the country and local businesses, it also can have devastating effects. As visitors travel to and from the reef, it is a great possibility that the fragile ecosystems that compose such a biodiverse location could be skewed causing negative effects, such as loss of coral or fish species. If the reef continues to be negatively impacted, it will not only affect the ecotourism industry, but more so it will affect the living organisms.

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and collecting data

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and collecting data

However, there are ways we can help the reef regenerate. A new breakthrough idea by biogeochemist Dr. Thomas Goreau and Professor Wolf Hilbertz utilizes the concept of Biorock, a calcium carbonate structure that enables reefs to repair themselves and grow at much faster rates using electrical stimulation called Seascaping Architecture. The goal is to start using this technology in more widespread locations along the Great Barrier Reef. However, the research is in need of public funding to reach their goal of $60,000. If you’d like to donate to the cause and help rebuild the reef, visit: http://startsomegood.com/superhero

For underwater shots of the reef, click here to view my video.


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