GoAbroad Interview

Amanda Lanham - Student Liaison Officer

Amanda Lanham - Student Liaison Officer

Amanda has a dual degree in music and education, and she is also a qualified Outdoor Recreation Leader. Working for Arcadia University is her dream job, as she enjoys helping students embrace new adventures by taking their learning abroad. Amanda loves living in Gold Coast, where her surfboard and kayak are never far, with her dog Brodie.  

How did you get connected with Arcadia University?

A friend from university had the position originally; I mentioned to her if she ever quit to keep me in mind as it was my “dream career.”  She looked at me funny and said she had been offered a position to chase her own dream job of being a firefighter and didn’t want to leave until she had found a replacement. It was a dream come true for both of us!

Girls standing on surfboards in Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay learn to Surf Weekend

What’s your favorite part about your job?

I love seeing the developments and changes in students as they learn to live more independently, with a wider view of international relations and their place in the world. I love it when I can help students embrace and enjoy pushing outside their comfort zones. Being a support person in times of need allows me to bring back calm and find a solution when things don’t go according to plan. This enables me to help students feel connected and safe in unfamiliar environments. 

Describe a typical day of work for you.

I usually start work after a morning surf, then I check and respond to emails, edit photos and videos for social media, update Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, plan and book events for excursions, check in with students, contact excursions partners, check in with staff at various universities, and scope out new opportunities and future events. Excursion days with students are my favourite – we are always learning about an interesting part of Australian culture, while also having way too much fun. 

How do you help students transition into life as a student in Australia?

We have a whole group orientation in a major city, which is an incredible opportunity for us as staff to get to know the students, but also develop a tight bond as an “Arcadia family,” so that when students are on campus there are also a team of friends to lookout for their mates. Australian study is much more independent, so I enjoy being the “go between” from the American to Australian education systems. I try and give students hints and tips to study effectively and also get the most out of down time; it can be a tricky balance when you’ve got Australia to play in! 

View from Mt Tambourine
Relaxing at Mt Tambourine

What makes Bond University a great place for study abroad in Australia?

The university has a diverse and amazing array of great staff that are at the cutting edge of their fields, in both real world experiences and research and development. The class sizes are small and teacher to student ratios mean that Bond students get the individual attention that is missing from some of the larger universities in Australia. The campus is stunning and located just far enough away not to distract students from the glistening clear waters of the beaches, but close enough to get there by bike/bus after class and on breaks. I always work better after a good dose of vitamin “Sea”! 

How can students get the most of their time in Gold Coast?

Go outside! There is so much to explore! Not only does the Gold Coast have great beaches, but there are also so many beautiful rainforests in the hinterland. There are lookouts and waterfalls a plenty and at many places a nice cool place to swim. Brisbane is also only an hour away by train if you want to visit the state museums, art galleries, and experience the theatre. Stay tuned into local events as every weekend there will be local music gigs, night markets, food vans, open mic nights, comedy and film festivals, and the Gold Coast is home to some pretty amazing car racing and outdoor sports. 

Students sandboarding at North Stradbroke Island, Australia
Sandboarding at North Stradbroke Island

What excursions do you suggest students take to complement their classroom learning?

As students are living by the beach, we suggest they get a good handle on surf safety before trying to rip it up on the waves here. We run a “learn to surf weekend” down at Byron Bay, which covers surf safety and also getting students up and riding the waves. We also have an amazing weekend out at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland’s second biggest sand island, where we learn from the local Aboriginal people how life used to be on the island, hike the headland, kayak in the crystal clear waters, and sand board on the dunes. We also get another morning surf in before a picnic and swim by the inland tea-tree lake. 

Do you have any words of wisdom for students interested in studying abroad in Australia?

Plan ahead – university will seem like a breeze for the first six weeks, and if you don’t schedule in time for study and assignments, then the following six weeks will feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. Plan big trips at the beginning of semester so you can book flights earlier and get cheaper rates. For the first two weeks of classes, talk to a new person for each class you take – your social circle will be huge! Plus, making friends with Aussies means you now have access to the car they drive and the parents that cook them home cooked meals!

Men sitting on the beach on Break Island, Australia
Wave Break Island Snorkeling

What do you hope to accomplish in the new year? Anything new prospective students should keep an eye out for?

I am going to plan a few new excursions – I would love to take students up to the marine environments of central Queensland to see turtles hatch, meet with the volunteers who look after the wild dolphins of Tin Can Bay, and also discover more about these remote coastal areas. The trip to the Whitsunday islands will hopefully go ahead this year, so we can fine tune the experience to learn more about the environmental impacts of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef. I am looking forward to getting more students featured on social media through Snapchat take overs and one on one interviews about their real life experiences on campus.