Amanda Ferguson, 2014 North Queensland student blogger, writes:

Thursday, May 29

If being in Australia wasn’t magical enough, swimming with Nemo and his friends certainly was far more than I could have imagined. I think many of my classmates would agree that while every event on this trip has been spectacular, they’ve all been stops on the road to the reef. Honestly, the Great Barrier Reef was the best place to end our stay here in Australia.

Free diving down while snorkeling on the GBR

Free diving underwater while snorkeling on the GBR

This was my first time snorkeling, but Eye to Eye Marine Encounters let us first-timers test out the snorkeling gear at the hotel pool before we jumped into open waters. Soon though we were out on the boat, adorned in black ninja suits (a.k.a. wetsuits) and snorkel gear, and face to face with Nemo’s home. If you can’t tell, I’m a fan of Disney’s Finding Nemo, so I was tickled pink see actual clownfish poking their heads out of anemones as depicted in the opening scenes of the movie.

The coral itself was also just as beautiful, and lots of other fish were present for the party as well, including butterflyfish, grouper, parrot fish, and even a couple of blacktip sharks! On the last day we even managed to swim with a couple of Pacific green sea turtles. It was really a majestic sight to see these creatures as they gracefully glided in and out of the reef. It was like the ocean version of a horse riding into the sunset.

One of the Pacific green sea turtles encountered

One of the Pacific green sea turtles encountered

It was also interesting to learn how everything in the reef is interconnected. For example, the grinding of the parrot fish as they feed on debris on the coral is actually what orients the baby polyps to swimming back towards the reef. The coral are also able to influence cloud cover for UV protection, which eventually float more inland and contribute to the location of rainforest formation.

This experience really was a great reminder of why I believe sustainability is so important. It is an example of the planet’s beauty we could potentially lose if climate change is not taken seriously. And honestly as I travel back home to Ohio, that’s probably the main thing that is going to stick with me from this trip. I will always remember the beauty of the land, but it’s the discussions of sustainability to maintain those places that will have a lasting impact on my perspective.

These were truly unique places that we were lucky enough to visit, but if I were being honest, it’s a real concern that these some of places could be gone in the next ten years, especially when you realize how interconnected they all are. The reef in particular, while being a great resource to the fishing, shipping, and tourism industries amongst others, is also extremely sensitive to change. A 2 degrees increase in temperature would be enough to have serious effects on the ecosystem.

The requisite O-H-I-O at sunset

The requisite O-H-I-O at sunset

Australia doesn’t have all the answers, but it is doing a couple more things right that we aren’t all doing in America. I’m so glad I was able to experience all that I have in the past 25 days. It’s definitely been widely educational and life changing. For everyone who’s been reading these posts, thank you for reading! And thank you AUIP and everyone we met for a wonderful experience!

Amanda Ferguson, 2014 North Queensland student blogger, writes:

Thursday, May 22

G’day, mates! After the farmstay, I now have an accent! I’m just kidding, I still sound very American, but on the Atherton Tablelands with my host family was a chance to hear a variety of the local lingo.

“Keen as mustard” meaning smart and enthusiastic and “bloke” instead of man were two phrases I heard quite often. They also used the word “nice” in places where Americans typically use the word good, particularly when we were talking about food. Honestly those farmstay meals were some of the best I’ve had on this program. I guess no matter where you are, nothing beats home cooking.

Friendly horses at the farmstay

We talked about some other differences between Australian and American food. For one, ketchup is called tomato sauce in Australia. A few other American to Aussie translations include candy is lolly, cookie is biscuit and cantaloupe is rockmelon. Also ranch dressing is not common, much to my dismay.

We also had a chance to interact with and feed the horses and cattle, which my farmstay classmates and I definitely enjoyed. The horses were extremely friendly.

After that, we were off to Tyrconnell Historic Gold Mine. Here we took an even closer look at plant adaptations to Australia’s hot dry land. The bowerbird in particular was interesting to hear about because it’s mating ritual is so unusual. The male bird builds a bower out of twigs and then collects different colored trinkets such as glass, bottle caps or shells to create a pathway leading up to the bower where it will perform a dance of sorts to impress females. These structures can become fairly intricate which is pretty impressive for one small bird to do.

Tyrconnell sunset

The best part of this Outback location though was the stargazing. Illuminated diamonds fill the sky in literally every direction while the Milky Way cut through the background. Sleeping outside, that was the view I had while falling asleep.

Now we’re in Port Douglas venturing out to the Great Barrier Reef. My stay here in Australia is almost over, but I have no doubts that the reef will make a perfect ending to this great adventure!

Amanda Ferguson, 2014 North Queensland student blogger, writes:

Sunday, May 10

This week we’ve been kicking it at Eco Village at Mission Beach. The Wet Tropics rainforest and local Aboriginal culture have been the topics of discussion during our lectures and field excursions.

The Aboriginals really had a unique connection to the land. We learned from the Nywaigi people that historically they ate green ants as a source of vitamin C. To eat it, you bite off the bulbous green part. Of course, I had to try it and was surprised it actually was fairly tasty! Who needs vitamins when you can just eat ants?

Kayaking with Ingan Tours

Kayaking with Ingan Tours

We also spent a day with Ingan Tours for a kayaking trip and a cultural session, which both were loads of fun. I think the Aboriginal culture definitely has a lot to contribute to not only Australian culture, but also conservation efforts simply because they know so much of the land. Their culture developed directly from their relationship to the land. While many traditions may not be compatible with contemporary societal views, I believe we could learn a lot just from finding out how the Aboriginal people worked with the land instead of just taking from it. We only had a short exposure to Aboriginal culture, but the rainforest we spent some further time in.

Wet Tropics rainforest at Mission Beach

Wet Tropics rainforest at Mission Beach

Of course the rainforest was as wet as its name mentions, but the vegetation was probably some of the most large and luscious I have ever seen. Large could also be said about the spiders. The palm fans and beautiful trees though kept me well distracted enough that I didn’t even mind those eight-legged creepies. The rainforest while beautiful, is really a battle between each of the plants fighting for sunlight and space. The Mission Beach area in total is home to more than 70 species of birds, frogs, butterflies, wallabies, lizards and much more.

The cassowary, Australia’s heaviest flightless bird, is another interesting creature that makes its home in this region. With glossy black plumage, a vivid blue neck and dinosaur-like helmet on top of its head, it is honestly one of the strangest creatures I have ever seen. The cassowary plays a vital role in dispersing seeds of key rainforest flora species, so its presence here is crucial.

Looking up at the rainforest canopy

Looking up at the rainforest canopy

It’s time to move on though and, with all the mosquitoes we’ve endured, we’re ready to leave by this point. Next is the homestay; farm life here we come!

Amanda Ferguson, 2014 North Queensland student blogger, writes:

The water! The rocks! The sky! If I were to write a poem about my stay here in Australia so far that is what it would be. No kidding though, everything is wonderful here.

Arrival at Bungalow Bay on Magnetic Island was immediately followed by a trip to the beach. Sand between my toes with a blue-sky breeze and a postcard view in front of me, that’s when it hit me—I’m in Australia! That was only the first of many beautiful encounters I’ve had with nature here.

Running River Gorge

Running River Gorge

We recently took a trip to a place called Hidden Valley Cabins, an eco resort in the bush. Tony, our guide, along with his family have worked to make the place as sustainable as possible, even converting their primary energy source to solar panels.

We’ve already gone on a number of hikes through a variety of terrains, but my favorite would have to be the one Tony guided us on into Running River Gorge. After a steep hike, we reached the river nestled in between the most beautiful rock formations. It was unreal. And it was so awe-inspiring to be floating right in the middle of it all and feel so small compared to the majesty of nature around me. A close second was catching the sunset from the top of the Forts hike back on Magnetic Island where I also got to see a juvenile koala in the wild. It’s only been a week, but it has certainly been a magical experience already.

Amanda Ferguson, 2014 North Queensland student blogger, writes:

Adventure is out there! That is my main expectation for this program in Australia. Other than that, my prospects are mainly filled with questions. There are sure to be koalas and kangaroos, and the dry Outback along with the wet rainforests, but what else is out there? Who will I meet? What are the predominant ideas and customs? Do they have a preferable condiment other than ketchup for their fries? You can bet I am more than excited to find out.

Amanda will soon be enjoying this view on Magnetic Island

Amanda will soon be enjoying this view on Magnetic Island

Tomorrow I board the airplane that will take me thousands of miles away to the foreign lands of North Queensland. Soon I will actually be studying abroad. The Ohio State program I will be a part of is called Sustaining Human Societies and the Environment. I know that even with as much environmental study as I’ve done, I’m sure there will be so much more to learn. I’m sure this journey will not be limited to just new experiences but new perspectives as well.

I’ve been a suburban city kid my whole life, and even though I have a love for nature, I know my experience with it is very limited. Park forests are certainly enjoyable, but they are merely a glimpse of what this world has to offer. Human history is only the dust collecting on the statue of evolutionary history. I am only a speck in its existence, but as a speck I have the luxury of being able to explore it and observe it.

I am so thrilled to spend not only a whole program in Australia, but at the same time while I admire its beauty learn about ways we as humans can also sustain it. The beauty of being humans is our unique role to be the ones to finally admire all that earth has become. Beauty is only in the eye of the beholder. Beauty cannot exist without the eye of the beholder. I am so ready for this adventure to begin.

Are you looking to enter the field of international education? Do you have a passion for travel? Or do you possess exceptional public speaking skills? If you said ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then our Contract Marketing Assistant position might be the right job fit for you.

AUIP is pleased to announce we are hiring a Contract Marketing Assistant and look forward to reviewing applications from qualified candidates. Here are full details on the opening:

Job Title: Contract Marketing Assistant

Responsible to: Marketing & Communications Manager

Hours and location: This is a full-time, 12-week contract position based in the United States. Constant travel to university partners across the U.S. will be required for the duration of the contract.

About AUIP: American Universities International Programs (AUIP) is a small business that provides services for American study abroad programs in the South Pacific region. We help universities produce outstanding academic and cultural experiences for their students by providing professional support and planning for their programs. Our mission is to provide quality academic study abroad programs that foster students’ ability and willingness to become better global citizens and stewards of the natural environment. See www.auip.com for more about our programs and services.

Contract Term: August 23 – November 15, 2014 (may vary slightly)

Remuneration: $5,500 fixed fee

Application Deadline: June 1, 2014

Please email a cover letter and resume to Eleanor Mitchell at eleanor@auip.com with “Contract Marketing Assistant” in the subject line.

Core Tasks:

1)     Travel around the U.S. to university partners from late August to mid-November

2)     Organize and deliver classroom presentations, host information tables, give information sessions, attend study abroad fairs and otherwise publicize AUIP programs on campuses

3)     Train AUIP marketing interns on any campuses visited

4)     Record and track marketing efforts and outreach

5)     Meet with faculty and Office of International Education administrators to answer questions about AUIP and develop relationships

6)     Organize and arrange some of your own travel, accommodations and car rentals, under the guidelines and within the budget provided by AUIP, and maintain records of all associated travel documents

7)     Assist with general marketing tasks, including social media

8)     Other projects on an as needed basis

Required skills and attributes:

1)     Bachelor’s degree with a preference in Marketing, Communications, Business or a related field

2)     Excellent organizational, multi-tasking and time management skills

3)     Outgoing personality with strong interpersonal, public speaking and communication skills

4)     Willingness to work flexible hours outside of the standard 9-to-5 under sometimes stressful conditions

5)     Proven ability to work independently

6)     Strong computer skills, including Microsoft Office Suite

7)     Valid U.S. driver’s license, private motor vehicle and insurance

Desired skills and attributes:

1)     Experience on an AUIP program(s)

2)     Knowledge of Adobe InDesign and Acrobat Pro and WordPress website publishing

3)     Experience creating print and/or web-based marketing materials

4)     Experience in the international education industry

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!



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