“It was really great to take an archaeology class in Australia, because Australia’s been inhabited for 60,000 years...”
Jason is finishing his degree in child psychology and cultural anthropology after spending a semester in Townsville, Australia at James Cook University. He enjoyed his time both on and off-campus, and felt that he made the most of his experience.
Jason's first cultural lesson had to do with his coursework. He had a list of courses for the Spring semester, and had several approved by his adviser for his major. Upon arriving to Townsville, however, Jason discovered that "spring" was actually fall on the Australian calendar, because the seasons are opposite from those in the US. Even though this information is available on the website, in the program brochure, and presented during orientation, Jason missed this detail. He enrolled for the Fall semester at James Cook, which meant that none of the classes he had planned to take were offered, but Jason quickly adapted and went on with the semester in a new set of courses. "It didn't work out as planned," he said, "but it didn't put a damper on my experiences abroad."
Jason took an introductory course in archaeology in Townsville. He found that the perspective of Australian anthropologists was very different from the perspective of his courses at the University of Minnesota. "In Australia, they were more concerned about Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan and China. It was really great to take an archaeology class in Australia, because Australia's been inhabited for 60,000 years, so there was a lot of information there." In his other classes, Jason found a similar perspective, and overall he enjoyed his coursework overseas.
Jason lived on campus at James Cook, with two Australian roommates. He thought the living arrangement was a good choice; he was able to experience different aspects of Australian culture than students who lived off campus. “By the end, they could pick on me for being American, and I could pick on them for being Australian, and that was the fun of it. It attached me to two Australians.”
Jason traveled to other parts of Australia, and met people from around the world. His recommendation for students is to budget for travel. “Whatever amount of money you think you want to bring, multiply that by two, and subtract $200, and you might have enough. Before you go, you think like I did, ‘I’m going to Townsville, I’m going to be in Australia, and that’s going to be amazing in itself.’ You go there, and you’re there for a week or two, and you’re like, ‘I’m in this other country, I need to see a lot more than this town!’ So then you find yourself just getting all over the place.”
Check out the Learning Abroad Center's University Study in Australia: James Cook University program.