Kelsey Hostnik - 2015 Program Participant

Skydiving in Byron Bay, Australia

Biggest jump in Byron Bay, Australia - 14,000 feet!

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

The idea of seeing another part of the world for an extended period of time was something I always had an interest in doing. I was able to explore cultures other than my own and see the world from a different perspective. I was also looking for the international experience to enhance my resume and qualifications for future job opportunities in the states or overseas.

Why did you choose The Education Abroad Network (TEAN)?

After weighing the pros and cons of the different programs I was being offered, TEAN had presented me with the most opportunities. The housing options were way above average and the excursions were boasted about by students who had participated in the past. They were also very helpful and accommodating with any questions/inquiries I had about going abroad, which made me feel really comfortable.

Tourist feeding a kangaroo in Australia

Feeding wallabies and kangaroos in Sydney

What was your favorite part about the location of your program?

I lived in Broadbeach, QLD, which is on the Gold Coast of Australia. My favorite part was everything I needed was right outside my door. The beach was a three minute walk from my apartment (which had any and every amenity you need), the grocery store was a three minute walk in the opposite direction, and all of the town's nicest bars/restaurants/clubs were only a five to 10 minute walk too. The people were all so nice and there was a strong community feel every time I walked out my front door.

What makes TEAN’s Gold Coast program unique?

My program really thinks about the student's best interests and you can tell they really take into account what students did and/or didn't like in the past. Each excursion/trip/cultural event they provided for their students was planned perfectly. There was never really a time I heard someone say they didn't enjoy something that we did. They really make sure the events are appropriate for the age group and are things that people are age actually want to be doing.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

I do not have a single bad thing to say about my local resident director. Not only was she always keeping us updated on upcoming events, activities, or suggestions on places to explore, but she was constantly reaching out to support us. She would often email students just to see how their day was. If anyone was homesick or upset, she never hesitated to step in to do whatever she could. Not only did this help adjust being so far from home, but it really made students feel like their was someone there for them if they ever needed anything.

Scuba diver and turtle along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Scuba diving in Whitsundays, along the Great Barrier Reef

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I had budgeted my money a lot more in the beginning. We were all so excited once we stepped off the plane that we splurged a little bit for the first couple of weeks, especially at orientation. It's hard not to get carried away when you're in an unbelievable place you've dreamed about your entire life, like Sydney, but it definitely affected me towards the end of the semester. Once you have to start turning opportunities down, then you realize you need to prioritize and try to take advantage of where you are while you can. If travel is something really important to you, a couple nights in really adds up, which is something someone told me in the beginning.

Describe a day in the life of your program. 

Usually we would wake up and all of my roommates would be cooking breakfast together (four of us total). We took the tram from our beach housing, which was about a 30 minute commute to school. After class, everyone would be outside either meeting friends or doing work because the weather was amazing. After classes, we'd either hop on the bus and explore the surrounding beaches and towns, go hiking, or head back to our beach across the street or hang out by the pool outside.

There is something going on every single night in the Gold Coast, whether it's club promotions, community events, or markets, so after dinner we would usually venture out around the town and meet some locals. You could travel 10 minutes away and see something unbelievable every day.

Elephant hugging a tourist with its trunk in Bali, Indonesia

Rode an elephant in Bali, Indonesia

What is something you enjoyed doing on your free time?

There is honestly so much to do it's really hard to pick. But I loved the days I would wake up to a message from someone in our program saying they were renting a car or taking public transport and road tripping to a hike or to another city. We would all pitch in, pack lunches, and see the rain forest, beaches, rock pools, animals, surfers, etc. Not only did this help us form such strong relationships, but we were able to save money and see so much of the country.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in the beach housing, and by now you can probably tell that I loved it. It was in the perfect location, and to be a student and live in such a high-quality apartment was such a privilege. There were two pools, a steam room, sauna, two hot tubs, gym, and such nice staff. I liked that it was a hotel rather than an apartment complex because we were able to meet so many people and make a lot of connections with people from all over the world. Also, everything you need is five minutes from the apartment. Right outside my window was the tram, so it was just a quick walk across the street and you can travel anywhere you would like.

How has your time in Australia impacted your life?

I am forever thankful for the experiences I had while I was abroad. I met life long friends from all over the world, saw different counties, experienced other cultures, tried new foods, and overcame so many of my fears. I feel that I grew up a lot overseas because for five months we were living on a budget on our own. You discover things about yourself you may never have known and become extremely independent. I feel more competent in many areas in and out of school that will not only boost my resume but really help me with future endeavors.