It’s hard to beat a summer study-abroad opportunity — that is, unless it takes place Down Under, while your classmates are stuck at home enduring a Northeast winter. Just ask Kaitlin Hicks, a junior Criminal Justice major, who recently returned from a three week-long academic adventure in Australia.
Based in Manley, Australia, 20 minutes outside of Sydney, the course on “Australia and Cross-Cultural Management” was organized by Queens College and open to all CUNY students. Hicks, whose only previous international travel experience had been to Canada, said the choice of course and setting was fairly easy. “Going to Australia meant there were no language barriers for me,” she said. “And since I want to be a police officer, a course that helps me understand other cultures is always useful.”
Hicks boarded a flight to Australia on Dec. 28, and arrived on Dec. 30, local time. (Sydney is 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.) Once there, she settled into a regimen of classroom and field instruction five days a week, three hours each day. In addition, her time was filled with extracurricular activities and socializing.
“We went scuba diving, which I had never done before, but I loved,” Hicks recalled. She and some of her classmates also got an opportunity to climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. (“I’m afraid of heights,” she admitted.) And, while New Yorkers were awaiting the arrival of 30 inches of wind-driven snow, Hicks was enjoying Australia’s sultry summer weather. “Our guide told us, ‘wait till the temps hit 40,’” she said. “It took me a moment to realize he meant Celsius — or 100 degrees!”
The course was held at the International College of Management – Sydney, but Hicks quickly discovered that WiFi was in short supply. “That made things kind of tough when it came to the online part of the class, and for doing research papers,” she noted.
The study-abroad trip, which for Hicks was more than a year in the planning, was filled with high points and takeaways. She got to celebrate New Year’s Eve twice, on local and New York time. She met kangaroos (“cute”) and koalas (“smelly”). She bonded with a number of other CUNY students, and learned a lot about Australian, Chinese and Indonesian cultures.
As important, she learned something new about herself. “After this,” she said, “I feel like I can’t wait to travel more.”