Student Teaching Testimonials - Australia

Alexa Basile: Secondary Social Studies Education, 2013

"As a recent graduate from the State University of New York College at Potsdam, I had the opportunity to plan my studies around student teaching in Australia. I knew that I wanted to student teach in Australia as soon as I saw the large map of Australia as an incoming freshmen at orientation in 2009. I began my application the summer before it was due and gathered all of my recommendation letters as soon as possible.  The application put all of the graduate school applications that I just recently finished, to shame. When I was granted an interview, I almost walked out crying. Yes, I understood that I was going to be half way around the world. Yes, I understood that I would go a long time without speaking to my parents. Yes, I understood that the financial obligation would be demanding. However, putting those worries aside, I was accepted and took the plunge and went Down Under to meet some of the most fantastic people of my lifetime and to experience things that you could only dream of. There is simply no experience like this one.

After a very long anticipated wait, I was on a fourteen-hour flight to Brisbane, Australia with twenty other SUNY student teachers. We all quickly built a rapport with one another knowing that we were spending three months together. We spent the next few months living together in the gorgeous coastal beach town called Mooloolaba.

We were all warmly welcomed into every school that we visited on the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast is the coastal area northeast of Brisbane in Australia's Queensland state. The program is so highly regarded in the area and we all knew that we were representing out country and SUNY schools. We all volunteered for anything and everything in our schools. Some even participated in a trivia night at one of the participating schools and got decked out in red, white and blue. I was able to participate in an adventurous excursion trip with my 8th grade students. We did activities from archery to a giant swing. My students helped me get into a harness and they dragged a heavy rope to launch me up about fifty feet high! They counted down and I swung all of the way down screaming. My students later told me "Ms. Basile, you have a cute scream!"  I am still in contact with my two host teachers in Australia who were wonderful mentors and showed me so much. They truly helped me grow into the teacher that I am today.

At the start of the program, we were offered to travel for two weeks in the tropics and down through the infamous Australian Outback. It was honestly two of the best weeks of my life. We saw so much and did activities that I never thought that I would have the confidence to do. We white water rafted down the famous Tully River, near Cairns and we snorkeled and scuba dove in the Great Barrier Reef among many other experiences. I even learnt how to throw a boomerang from a local indigenous woman. I caught it and she said, "you're a wild woman, you can come hunting with me."

After traveling those two weeks, about ten of us from the program traveled on our own after the teaching program was over. We all truly caught the travel bug! I took a month to travel independently with a friend from the program. We flew down to Melbourne, Australia and rented a camper van to travel back up the Pacific Highway, which led us back north to Brisbane. We drove the Great Ocean Road and saw the Twelve Apostles, which are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We stopped in little beach towns and truly mingled with the locals. 

Student teaching and traveling in Australia offered an invaluable exposure to not only life but also teaching in other parts of the world. It changed the way I viewed teaching, and made me realize that teaching was indeed what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I am now able to share my new international perspective and global awareness with my future students."

Deirdre Smith: Childhood/Early Childhood Education, 2012

"When I first stepped off of the plane in Australia, I had no idea how much this experience would change me.  It provided me with the opportunity to spread my wings and find out what my true potential was.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and became a person open to new experiences.  Teaching in Australia is indescribable.   The school I taught at immediately welcomed me with open arms and went out of their way to make sure I had all of the resources I needed.  The students were wonderful, and loved to share bits of their culture with me, as well as hear about America.  Parents of the students would often send in Australia treats, such as ANZAC biscuits or a traditional Australian children’s book for their child to share with me.  I felt like a part of the school community from day one.  I believe that I learned just as much from them as they did from me.

The people I met in Australia wanted to show us “New Yorkers” what beauty their country holds.  I was offered the opportunity to travel to Fraser Island, try surfing for the first time, and also see many sights I would not have otherwise gotten to.  It was the best time of my life. 

I can honestly say that there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of my time there, and wish that I could do it all over again.  I keep in contact with my colleagues and have created international connections I would not otherwise have been able to make.  I think back to all of the memories I made and feel that it made me a better teacher, one that I would not otherwise have become."

Kara Kubinski: Childhood Education, 2009

"If anyone is considering teaching abroad, picture yourself in one of the most beautiful places in the world; doing things you'd never thought you'd do, with amazing people to share it with. The experiences I gained literally shaped the next few years of my life and will never be forgotten. It was awesome! I feel that I got to do a lot of things people don't traditionally do when they visit Australia. It was refreshing to become immersed into a culture and society that is so laid back. Leaving Australia, I felt like I actually SAW the country.

As a foreigner in Australia you will not feel in any way “outside” the Australian society.  As part of the Mountain Creek school community, I got the chance to view things from a totally unique perspective. Fun and learning were nicely balanced, and the level of guidance and the level of independence the program offers is a perfect blend.

The multiage classroom I had the privilege to work with was phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for a better placement. Working with the students, teachers, and volunteers allowed me to appreciate the unique situations that may arise during a typical school day. Upon leaving I was provided with a greater social network, which in today’s job market is incredibly important no matter what field you are entering.

Learning to live a different life-style and understanding a different way of thinking was a great experience in sharing perspectives and values. The 4 months I spent in Australia were the most enjoyable and educational of my college career, and if I would change anything, I would have made the trip longer.

Overall, it was a bittersweet ending. It was hard to leave such a beautiful place and amazing people, but I received such a sense of achievement that has since been hard to match. Overall experience = exciting, enjoyable, & rewarding.

Very much exceeded my expectations."

Megan Lawlor: Childhood Education, 2007

“From the moment we landed in Australia until the moment I had to say goodbye at the end of my all too short four month stay, I felt like I was home. The Sunshine Coast is absolutely beautiful, and the people are extremely friendly.

Living in UniCentral was ideal. At first I was a little nervous about not sharing a flat with fellow SUNY students, but I quickly realized that by being placed with both Australians and other international students that I was being given a wonderful opportunity to learn about my new home away from home. Living in a spectacular flat, having my own room, and being able to share a common area with friends… what could have been any better than that!

Not unlike Potsdam, the USC campus is relatively small. The campus is renowned for its distinctive architecture and grounds. The buildings there have received more than 25 awards for planning, architecture, and construction. There they even focus one something that we would be wise to bring back home, using non-renewable energy.  The staff, both at UniCentral and on the USC campus, are all very friendly and willing to help with the even the smallest of things.

For my practicum placement I was in a Year Three class at Chancellor State College’s primary campus. I loved every second of working with both my class and all of the wonderful staff members there.

“During the short nine weeks that I was with my class, I was able to go on an excursion to the Senior campus, where we dissected oxen hearts. Nobody here in the states can believe that they did that at such a young age! I also planned a healthy morning tea where each of the students was asked to make an invitation for one of the staff members. I could go on and on with all of my wonderful experiences in the classroom!

What it comes down to is that going to Australia and taking part in this wonderful program was the chance of a lifetime!”