The Study Abroad Newsletter

Exchange in Australia

Clara Smith | Marine Science Major - James Cook University, Australia

Sunset on a beach

Aloha, my name is Clara Smith and I’ve spent my last semester as an undergrad studying marine science on exchange at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. The semester definitely progressed in a different way than I was expecting with classes transitioning online and many students leaving due to the pandemic. While in many ways the situation wasn’t ideal, it did lead to many learning opportunities and conversations about what we need to change in our world moving forward. Also, even with restrictions in place, there were still so many adventures to go on.

It is so hard to narrow down my experience to one memorable event, but in general my favorite memories are exploring Queensland with a few good friends when travel restrictions allowed it. I hiked to more waterfalls than I think I’ve ever seen in my life and wandered around some of Earth’s oldest rainforests. I got stuck trying to go 4-wheeling in a manual car that I had just learned how to drive while looking for abandoned train tunnels with a friend. I saw so many types of animals that I didn’t even know existed before. While I learned a lot about Australian culture, I also learned about many other cultures from my international friends and now I have so many other places that I’m inspired to travel to. Queensland has so many incredibly beautiful places, but being here has reminded me a lot of how much beauty there is at home as well, and I can’t wait to return to Hawaii.

The first picture is of Townsville, where I lived, from one of my favorite sunset spots on Castle Hill.

An eastern-gray kangaroo that came right up to me early in the morning while I was camping at Cape Hillsborough. Who knew kangaroos enjoy going to the beach? I even saw one jump in the water!