Madeline Kenny - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I come from a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in New York. I always thought that getting out of there and moving to a bigger city would be beneficial for me, and I did it for college but still was not fulfilled. I decided to explore the furthest corners from home as possible by going to Australia.

Girl sitting on a coastal cliff in Gold Coast, Australia
Yes, the water is that blue.

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

My school uses TEAN as a provider for abroad students in the South Pacific, but I am so lucky that they were my provider because of all the opportunities that I received by working with them. 

What was your favorite part about Gold Coast?

The Gold Coast was so wonderfully full of surfing and skating culture. The laid back, beachy vibes were relaxing and made for an enjoyable school experience.

What made your experience abroad unique?

During my time in Australia, I was able to visit Melbourne which is now my favorite place on Earth (so far). I loved it so much that I went back a second time, and showed my friends around and they had a good time as well. It was a place that I personally found to encompass everything I could possibly want in a city and its surrounding suburbs. It was a place I could see my parents moving to. Melbourne gave me a new perspective that places even as far away as Australia can be similar to the things I love at home. 

Dusk at Bond University, Australia
Every night at Bond Uni

How did local staff support you throughout your program?  

The local staff in Gold Coast from TEAN was extremely supportive with any and every question I had. If I had concerns, they met with me for coffee and then continued to check in on me throughout my time there. They were all extremely friendly and gave great tips on where to go hiking too! 

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

The only thing I could've done differently was to have saved more money before going to Australia. The costs there were comparable to everything in the U.S., but if I had really buckled down over my summer before and saved I would have had the opportunity to travel more or try out more restaurants.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

I would wake up at about 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., go to my classes for the morning, and then meet up with friends on campus. I would either have another class, or we would then head out to the beach and their apartments. After riding the bus out to Broadbeach, we would get ready in the apartment and head down to the beach for a few hours. Activities included tanning, frisbee, and body surfing for the most part.

Afterwards, we would head over to Woolworth's (the grocery store) and buy some pasta or salad stuff for the evening. If I was visiting someone's apartment, I always offered to cook dinner for them. We would cook dinner while watching the sunset, and every sunset in Broadbeach is unbelievable. Later on, I would head home on the bus just to do it all again the next day.

Icebergs Club, Bondi Beach, Australia
The infamous Icebergs Club

What did you enjoy doing on the weekends?

On the weekends, I would do my best to explore something new each day. Whether that was a new city, a new beach, or simply a new restaurant, I always made sure to try and experience everything I could. Gold Coast has so many beaches to explore, and they each have their own attractions, quirks, and local smoothie shops to enjoy. 

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it? 

I lived on campus at Bond University in a double. The room came equipped with a bathroom for two to share and its own mini fridge. I loved being right on campus because it made getting to classes easy, and having a meal plan was great. There is also a maid service that comes through once a week to vacuum and change sheets.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

Before going to Gold Coast, you should know that you need to be independent. You definitely won’t be alone, the local staff is amazing, and so is the staff at Bond University, and you'll make tons of new friends. However, this is the time to explore and take charge and learn Gold Coast like the back of your hand. 

Australia is a really safe place, so don't be afraid to branch out and step out of your own comfort zone. It is entirely necessary to maximize your experience there.

Girls snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
Hanging out at the Great Barrier Reef!

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?  

I noticed that I am much more patient now. This is easily due to all the traveling I did where I had no option but to be patient. This is a quality I am immensely grateful for now.

Would you recommend your program to others? Why?

One hundred percent I would recommend this program. TEAN gives you the best opportunities to experience parts of Australia you otherwise may not have access to. The support and help they give you with the process of applying, getting there, and throughout your time abroad is helpful beyond words.