Three years ago, I was a nervous sophomore frantically packing everything I could possibly need for a month in Australia. Waves of excitement washed over me as I gathered field notebooks, snorkel gear, sunscreen, and shorts. “Wow”, I thought as I looked outside at a cold January day, “Tomorrow I’ll be halfway across the world in a land of kangaroos and boomerangs.” In hindsight, my perception of Australia was strongly influenced by movies like Nemo and Crocodile Dundee, but the fall preparation course started to introduce me to the “real” Australia: the unique geology of the country, the vastness of the outback, the plant and animal biodiversity including numerous deadly species, and the interesting history of the continent’s European colonization. However, my real understanding of Australia was yet to come. It would take hours of studying the rainforests, making wildlife documentaries, talking with the local people, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and spending late nights on research papers to truly understand Australia.
The 2010 Australia Expedition influenced the rest of my time at The College of Idaho. I discovered that I had a passion for making films after our wildlife documentary assignment, and I continue to make videos for C of I. I also discovered a passion for the research process after designing a research project, collecting data, running analyses, and writing a research paper during two weeks on Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. The trip fueled my interest in marine biology which is the field that currently guides my search for graduate school. Now, I will return to Australia as a C of I graduate to assist Dr. Chris Walser and Dr. Mark Gunderson on the 2013 Expedition.
As the students walk through the Boise airport doors, I see myself three years ago. I was excited to travel to a foreign country, nervous about forgetting something important, and delighted to leave the classroom behind for a month. I smile to myself as I think how this trip will change the students’ lives too.
2012 College of Idaho alum, 2010 Australia Expedition Participant
Meet some of the 2013 Australia Expedition participants and hear their thoughts on the upcoming trip.