Top 10 Ways to OWN Your Study Abroad Experience

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

CISabroad blogger Tasha Ward participated in CISabroad’s Semester in Australia – University of Sydney study abroad program during Spring 2017. An Economics major at Clemson University, Tasha shares 10 strategies to help you take charge of your study or intern abroad experience.

So I’m sitting here, midterms officially behind me, and have realized that I am, unfortunately, halfway through my semester abroad. I’ve booked my flight home, made plans for a bit of a summer job, and am starting to think about my senior year of college back in the states. But hold on – halfway finished means I still have as much time ahead of me as I do behind me and that is EXCITING. What isn’t exciting is how long it took me to figure out the whole study abroad adventure thing! Long as it took to realize, here’s what I’ve learned, somehow compacted into a short “top 10” list, and what will definitely be the guidelines I live by for the rest of my time here!

1. Don’t underestimate your food budget.

I came here so prepared with ideas of how I would budget and “save” money during my time abroad. One of which was saying, aside from enjoying the local cuisine every once in a while, that I would cook at home for myself a majority of the time. Smart…right? Wrong! First of all, going out to eat was the most common activity to do with all the new people I was meeting in the first couple months of being abroad. It was the most convenient way to get to know people AND eat some bomb food at the same time. Which leads me to my next point: THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD FOOD TO TRY. It’s hard to grill yourself a chicken breast with Brussels sprouts at home when you just know there’s some funky Thai restaurant with a live jazz band waiting for you to explore. So, if anything, give yourself a food budget and then double it…you’ll thank me later. 🙂

2. Travel the world mindfully.

Here’s an easy one that won’t take much convincing! You have to take advantage of where you are and go to places you might not have the chance to see again. These will be your fondest memories, favorite pictures, and best stories. Pro tip: Planning for travel is way more difficult than anticipated without the parents figuring out all of the logistics. Don’t be afraid to be the responsible one who makes the plans and, conversely, don’t be the one who doesn’t thank the person who does all the trip planning because it is hard work!

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

3. Remember: there is S-T-U-D-Y in “study abroad.”

It was (no exaggeration) the worst realization when I had to skip going to the beach with friends to study for an exam. I’m in Australia and have to study? It’s definitely not ideal, but extremely necessary. Academics are serious here, requiring serious study time and plenty of preparation for exams and assignments. I only have to “pass,” grade-wise, but it is way more difficult than I imagined. It’s very important to remember this is STUDY abroad and you will actually have to study. I think I heard this one several times before I left, but it didn’t hit me until I had 6 weeks of material to learn the night before an exam…so learn from my mistakes and just stay on top of the material right from the start.

4. Don’t get nervous about finding your “group.”

Everybody is in the same situation as you and wants to make friends who make this experience one to remember. Give everybody a chance, never exclude someone, and always keep the invitations to a day or night out open. You can meet your best friend through the most random connection!

5. Keep in touch with family and friends back home.

While abroad, I realized that my mom and best friends back home were even more amazing than I realized before I left. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of being abroad, but don’t forget about the people who were there when you left and will be there when you get back. Send them a postcard letting them know you’re thinking of them – they’ll love it!

Sydney, Australia

6. Get lost on purpose.

Hop on a train, bus, or even an airplane if you’re feeling extra adventurous – with no destination in mind! There’s so much to see that falls outside of your “Top things to do in Sydney” Google search results. These days can turn into the most memorable and are so worth the brief moments of panic when you realize you have no idea where you are. Disclaimer: Charge your phones entirely and maybe even bring an extra set of clothes.

7. Remember self care while you’re abroad.

Here’s an extra important one. So many people (myself included) expected study abroad to be one giant vacation. True, while it’s basically an endless opportunity for adventure, people need to realize that because you’re spending 6 months abroad, it’s actually living in a new place, not just vacationing there. And when you’re living somewhere, you have to take care of yourself. This means: don’t feel bad about taking a day or two to do your laundry, go to the grocery store, tidy up your room, and wash your sheets. These things keep you grounded, keep you human, keep you realizing that you’re an adult with responsibilities. It’s important to keep track of these things – don’t neglect them!

8. Forget your expectations.

My goodness, this one is vital. Seriously. Sure, go into your study abroad ready for the time of your life. It definitely will be, but probably not in the way you expected. I can, without hesitation, say that I didn’t expect to explore New Zealand completely by myself (seeing as I came on study abroad with a friend from home), or have a moment where I thought I needed to go home…but I did. If you go into this experience with expectations, there is room to be let down if they don’t go exactly as planned. And with so many variables in the mix, there will be times where things go the exact opposite way of what was planned. Don’t let this throw you off or make you uncomfortable. Learn to roll with the unexpected and you’ll enjoy yourself much more.

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

9. Take time to know yourself.

Here it is guys, the most corny (but most relevant) piece of advice I can give. During your time abroad, you’ll find yourself in an innumerable amount of unfamiliar situations: friendships will be tested, situations will be uncomfortable, and difficult decisions will have to be made. During all of this, you’ll get to do something so exciting and genuine, you may not even realize it’s happening. You will get the chance to truly know yourself – who you are, the type of people you like (and don’t like), the situations that make you uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and stressed, but also the situations that invoke genuine joy and self-satisfaction.

10. Continue your learning when you get home.

Studying abroad is a remarkable thing. We all go to unique places, meet tons of different people, learn a vast array of life lessons, but we all end up having a similar experience. I think we all become a more pure version of ourselves with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an individual, and a more complete appreciation of all the opportunities that have been made available to us in our lives.

It’s important to continue on with wherever our lives take us, putting into practice what we’ve learned during our time abroad. I don’t want to go back to living the sheltered life I’ve lived, so I hope to continue learning, reflecting, and growing as I go through life, applying what I’ve learned on this amazing study abroad journey. Challenge yourself to take what you’ve learned and develop it, rather than returning to your normal routine back home.

Curious about what a semester in Australia with CISabroad is like? Check out our Australia programs (like the one Tasha experienced) at

CISabroad Adds Partnership with University of Melbourne

CISabroad is proud to announce a new partnership with the University of Melbourne! The University was ranked number one in Australia and number 33 in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014–2015. The vast majority of it classes are available to study abroad students, with a wide selection of majors to choose from. Not only is the university highly ranked, but its host city is consistently ranked as the “World’s Most Livable City” as well. You’ll enjoy learning from world renowned professors, exploring this vibrant city, and lounging on surrounding beaches.




Student Spotlight: Study abroad in Australia

Study Abroad Photo Journalist AustraliWhat is life look like as a study abroad student in Australia? Meet Derek M, from The Citadel, who is taking a semester to study, live and explore the life down under at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Derek was awarded the Travel Blogger scholarship. Here’s what he said when we caught up to him about what the “study” in study abroad really meant.

The “Study” in study abroad to me means learning about a different culture.  School is important here, but I think traveling and experiencing different cultures are just as important as school.  I still take my classes seriously, but I want to have fun and see as much as I can while I am over here.  My goals while studying abroad are to get to 3 or more different countries, get up to the Great Barrier Reef, get in a shark cage, maybe skydive*, go deep sea fishing and of course pass all of my classes.  So far, Australia has been a blast and I’m so happy I decided to study abroad.  I hope the next two months don’t go by as fast as the first two months did.

While it’s fall here in the US, it’s Spring down under. Derek is taking a trip to Bali for spring break. Rest assured he’s been hunkering down on his studies too. When friends went to Sydney for the weekend, he stayed local to get work done. With group presentations, essays, he’s busy academically too! Thank you, Derek, for sharing your journey with us and as we said in our email to you, we hope you “go for the gold” in your academics as well as your travels. Finding the balance is like surfing the waves in Australia. “Good on ya, Mate!” from everyone at CISabroad.



Melbourne, Australia


Kangaroo Selfie


White water rafting, three hours outside of Melbourne


Melbourne at Night


Australia road trip


Travel and friendship abound in Australia


Surf and Sunrise in Australia

Early this morning our Australia site director sent these pictures of a study abroad student, Ryan M., from Jacksonville University.

“I have no doubt Ryan will enjoy the waves during his semester in Newcastle,” she writes.

Ryan is studying abroad this fall at the University of Newcastle. Jackie sent in these three photos of Ryan hitting the waves at sunrise on his first day in Australia.


Sunrise in Australia


Sunrise in Australia


Sunrise in Australia

What will you do on your first day when you study or intern abroad with CISabroad?


Interning Abroad: Do I Choose New Zealand or Australia?

Internships are all about experiences and opportunities, and the world is your oyster when doing it abroad. Interning abroad is a fantastic idea as it demonstrates to future employers your flexibility and adaptability to the work environment–a quality that is prized in almost every field. When deciding whether to intern abroad in Australia or New Zealand, it’s almost impossible to go wrong. Fortunately, the seemingly difficult choice between them comes down to just three F’s: your field, your finances, and your future.


The Field

The first consideration is the type of work you will be doing in your internship. Australia and New Zealand are similar culturally, but the types of businesses you will find in each country vary.

If your internship includes work in ecology, forestry, agriculture, or tourism, then New Zealand is the best destination for you. As one of the most naturally beautiful nations on Earth, New Zealand is a prime tourist destination for people from all over the world. In fact, the tourism industry accounts for nearly 10% of all jobs in New Zealand, and nearly 10% of the nation’s GDP as well. Anyone looking to work in the tourism management or hospitality fields would be hard pressed to find a better location for an internship abroad than New Zealand.

Most of these tourists are drawn to the natural purity New Zealand boast as second to none. As a result, the ecological well-being of the country is central to its economy. Jobs are plentiful in the fields of ecology, natural resource management, and forestry, and the potential learning experience provided by an internship in these fields is world class.

Lastly, agriculture is the largest sector of the New Zealand economy with major production areas in beef and dairy cattle, sheep for wool and meat, and crops such as hay for livestock feeding. Those studying agriculture would be well served by an internship in New Zealand, as many farming techniques utilized by the Kiwis are comparatively different from large scale farming techniques seen in North America.

Australia, on the other hand, is a thoroughly interconnected nation in the global economy, and certainly more so than New Zealand. Since Australia is substantially larger than New Zealand, internship placements here will be much more varied in their topic areas. Internships can be found in just about any field one could find in the United States. Financial sector internships with large, multinational corporations are available in the major cities while positions in the field of zoology and marine biology are plentiful in both urban and rural settings.

Furthermore, positions in science and engineering will tend to be more widely available in Australia. The medical science field can provide an interesting intern experience, allowing for comparisons with the American health care system. Finally, the presence of the large manufacturing companies provide positions in several branches of the engineering sector including chemical, industrial, and civil engineering.

budgetThe Finances

If one nation doesn’t stand out on the merit of the field you are studying, then the cost of living may be a deciding factor. Both countries are thoroughly modern and neither is necessarily better or worse, but there are several key differences. For starters, the cost of living will vary somewhat between the two, as well as between locations within the countries. In New Zealand  the cost of living  may be noticeably cheaper. Keep your eye on the exchange rate.

futureThe Future

The final factor that should be taken into consideration is the simple question, “Why am I doing my internship abroad?” Is your goal to someday move to the country you will be going to, or are you interested in a temporary placement and nothing more? If the latter is true, then Australia may be the better choice with its plentiful multinational corporations. Experience here is very applicable to experience with a US company, and skills acquired can easily be transferred to a career back home. New Zealand, on the other hand, could be the better choice if your goal is to one day return in order to work in your field long term. The compact size of the country allows for more connections between business contacts and the smaller average size of companies means a good internship experience can potentially turn into a concrete job offer, something that is essential to obtaining an immigration visa.

Deciding to complete an internship with CISabroad is a fantastic educational decision. The experience of adjusting to the professional world in another country is a great resume booster, and learning to assimilate to life overseas can prove to be invaluable life skill. If your goal is to intern in Australia or New Zealand then congratulations, you’ve already made a solid choice. Choosing between the two nations is perhaps the most difficult obstacle remaining. When doing so, just keep in mind which country would be best for your F’s: your field, your finances, and your future. If you can come up with an answer for each, then your destination country should quickly become clear.

Still having a hard time making a decision? Call our advisors at CISabroad – 877-617-9090; we can also connect you with our alumni network! We wish you the best of luck in this journey.


Meet Seth Weil : CISabroad Program Coordinator

IMG_0015Seth Weil is the CISabroad Program Coordinator for Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. He’s only been with CISabroad for a short amount of time, but you wouldn’t guess it! Seth is full of energy and loves to help out his students studying abroad.

What is your job as a programs coordinator?
I manage all aspects of our programs in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. I work with the students from the time that they apply until they come back home. I like to serve as a guide and a resource throughout the experience. Studying abroad can be a complicated process at times, especially for students who have never been outside of the US. I like to make sure they are provided with all the resources, but also make sure that they feel comfortable throughout all of the different steps.

Whats your favorite part of your job?
I love working at CISabroad! I love the people who work here and I of course love the dogs. Most of all I love working with the students. I’ve been in this field for 2 ½ years, prior to working here I was working at a university. With this job I really get to focus on one area of the world, as opposed to advising everywhere. I get to work with amazing colleagues in a job I love!

How did you come to focus on Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii?
I studied abroad in NewCastle, Australia in 2011. I fell in love with Australia and the whole study abroad experience after my junior year of college. I studied abroad three times while I was a student. Most of my time was in Australia and I loved the culture and made some great friends who are still there. It was just a natural fit for me to focus on this region.

photo 3

On site with Australia Site Director Jackie C.

Where have you traveled/studied abroad?
Along with studying in Australia, I did two short term programs in Córdoba, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. I have traveled to 16 different countries and lived all over the world my entire life. Travel has been an important part of my life since I was really young. It’s been really great to help other people experience that. I am asking people who have never been out of the country to take a pretty big leap of faith and travel for 30 hours to get to their destination. I think that’s pretty amazing.

Number one thing you have to do while in Australia?
Heading to the beach is a given! You have to try a meat pie from a street vendor. If you have the opportunity you should go to any type of street fair, they occur all over the continent. If you can, definitely do something where you’re experiencing aboriginal culture whether that is a guided tour, a festival, or a lecture. When I was in Australia, the best course I took was an aboriginal culture and society course. It was taught by this amazing professor who really had the odds against him because of his background. Taking that course was incredibly inspiring.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to be active and outdoors, and luckily Northampton is wonderful for that. I love running, cooking, biking, kayaking, and of course traveling. Whether it’s a weekend trip somewhere local or going international, I’m always looking for new places to go!


Tim Tam Slam Lessons from CISabroad Staff

Have you ever traveled to Australia or New Zealand?

Then you’ll know the art of the Tim Tam Slam! If you haven’t, keep reading, you don’t want to miss how to eat this gooey treat! This morning two of CISabroad’s Customized Faculty Led Program Coordinators, Alyx Raffo and Sarah Bradhsaw gave a small lesson to CISabroad staff in our office “living room.” Sarah traveled to New Zealand in 2008 and Alyx went on the CISabroad Semester on the Gold Coast program in 2011, she’s #cisabroadalumni! Enjoy, mate!

Tim Tam Slam with CISabroad Staff! #cisabroadstaff #cisabroad #instagood #timtamslam

A video posted by CISabroad (@cisabroad) on

Are you a #foodie and love to #travel? Comment below with your favorite finds from traveling abroad! #gnamgnam

Budget Friendly Travel Along the Great Ocean Road in Australia

Shanna, CISabroad staff member, shares her experience budget traveling along the Great Ocean Road while studying abroad in Australia.

We all know that studying abroad can be hard on the pocketbook, but worth it in the end. My friend and I turned to more alternative budget friendly trips while studying abroad in Australia, and ended up with some great memories from it! While studying abroad at the University of Newcastle in Newcastle, Australia my friend and I made a trip to Melbourne to see the city and also wanted to road trip along the infamous Great Ocean Road. We had originally planned on renting a car for a week and driving the road by ourselves, stopping along the way to take photos of everything and anything, spending the night at hotels and trying new restaurants. After crunching the numbers we realized this just wasn’t feasible.

Melbourne Australia ocean

Shanna enjoying an incredible view in Melbourne!

So instead of taking the typical route we decided to hop on a low budget camping trip with ten other travelers and ended up having the time of our lives. We met people from all over Europe, South America and Asia. This camping trip was led by an overly enthusiastic, but informative, Australian tour guide who drove us down many miles of the Great Ocean Road, winding along the coastline and stopping to take photos of beautiful rock formations, Aussie animals and critters and clear blue water as far as the eyes can see. We spent two days and three nights getting to know the road and landscape as well as each other. We cooked meals together over the fire and slept in tents under the stars from the Australian farmland to the base of the foothills in the Victorian countryside. One morning we even woke up at sunrise to find a field full of kangaroos surrounding our tents. It was unbelievable! At times we were frustrated with the “roughing it” aspect of our trip; however, I wouldn’t have traded a shower and shampoo for the inside of those tents and the memories we made every day of the week! There is something fantastic about sitting around a camp fire having a conversation and laughing with people from several different continents and all relating about the fabulous time we were having together. It’s surprising how much fun you can have when life just goes back to being simple. This is one of many memories I will never forget about my study abroad experience in Australia!

Twelve Apostles Australia Melbourne Great Ocean Road

Shanna at the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

Have you ever “roughed it” while traveling abroad? Leave a comment and share your story!

Travel Tip: How to Have Fun Outside While Studying Abroad!

If you’re the adventurous type already, you’ll be surprised how much more adventurous you’ll tend to be while studying abroad! As the travel bug bites, it seems to also infect you with an itchy sense of adventure. You will likely find yourself uninhibited, eager to try new things, and exceptionally vulnerable to taking off on a trip at the drop of a hat. We’ve written a prescription for your “adventure fever” and it includes CISabroad sponsored excursions, as well as highly recommended activities we’ll gladly help you execute.

Here are just a few examples of ways that you can get your outdoor adventure fix on some of our CISabroad programs:

  • Zip-lining in Costa Rica: Explore the rainforest from a birds-eye view on a high-flying zip-line canopy tour. Participants strap into a harness attached to a cable and glide over miles of forest and river terrain at speeds of up to 100 mph.
  • Scuba diving in Ecuador: The Galapagos Islands are a world-class scuba diving and snorkeling site, often referred to as one of the “Seven Underwater Wonders of the World.” Swimmers can mingle with sharks and sea lion pups alike, while threading through schools of brightly colored fish, Manta Rays, and barracudas. A protected and largely pollution-free environment, the Galapagos are perfect for anyone looking to experience marine environments in their purest form.

    study abroad excursions zip lining in Costa Rica

    Zip lining in Costa Rica – heart-racing adventure with a view!

  • Wildlife safaris in South Africa: South Africa has over 600 parks and reserves, one of the most famous being Kruger National Park. Whether taking a drive across the savannah or camping out under acacia trees, you’ll see the “Big Five”- lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffaloes and black rhinos, among other exotic wildlife.
  • Hiking the Southern Alps in New Zealand: New Zealand was used in filming each Lord of the Rings movie, and it’s no wonder why. With beautiful beaches, grassy hills and majestic mountains, New Zealand has it all. There are tons of amazing hiking trails on the South Island and are perfect for camping and fishing.
  • Surfing in Australia: You can find surfing is most places along the Australian coastline where you will have access to the Great Barrier Reef, not to mention enough miles of beautiful beaches to keep you happy for a very long time.

So whether land, sea, jungle, or mountain, there is so much to see and do on your travels abroad!

If you have traveled abroad, what was your favorite outdoor adventure or excursion? Share with a comment below!

For more information about CISabroad programs and what types of excursions they include, please contact an advisor.

Travel Tip: Getting Your (Unusual) Sports Fix Abroad

With the “March Madness” of the NCAA basketball tournament in full swing, you may be wondering how you could justify missing such thrilling competition if you were to study abroad or intern abroad. While we certainly hope television programming wouldn’t keep you from the life-changing experience of traveling overseas, we understand a lot factors into your decision to go or not, and where and when to go. Below, you’ll find some unusual sports abroad that may or may not satisfy your inner competitor but will definitely leave you a bit perplexed.

Cheese racing
Courtesy of The Black Azar, Flickr

Cheese racing
Let’s start with cheese racing. Yes, you heard correctly. In England you can take part in the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake. It is a surprisingly dangerous event with participants chasing a 7 pound wheel of cheese down a steep hill. The person with the first cheese wheel across the finish line takes home a lot of cheese and other cash prizes.

If a large cheese prize doesn’t motivate you, head down the street to try your luck at shin-kicking, or “hacking,” a strength and endurance challenge similar to martial arts. The prize here we suppose: not getting your shins kicked…as much.

Road bowling
A long-standing tradition in Ireland, road bowling involves hurling a small lead ball down country roads in as few throws as possible. Spectators gather along the road in hopes to get the best possible view without being on the receiving end of the lead ball.

Sheep racing
Every April, a small community in the Australian outback swells with tourists and sheep racers. It’s a fun, family affair and there’s even a prize for best dressed (sheep, of course).

Apple racing
Chuck an apple off a bridge and hope it floats down the river faster than the others! This fundraising event takes place on the island of Tasmania.

Zorb ball
Courtesy of Juan Guthrie, Flickr

New Zealand
Zorb ball
Zorbing, or rolling downhill inside a massive inflatable ball, has gained momentum recently (pun intended) as a new extreme sport in New Zealand. If you’ve ever wondered how your clothes feel in the dryer, this is your chance to experience that feeling yourself.

You may not have guessed that the stunts performed in movies such as Casino Royale and The Bourne Ultimatum originate from the decades-old French discipline of “movement and holistic well-being.” The Office’s Michael, Dwight and Andy have a different interpretation of parkour, as they chant “hardcore parkour” while stunting around the office. Recently, parkour has even been included in the training of various military branches in the U.S. and Britain.

Have you observed or participated in any wild and whacky sports abroad? Leave a comment here to share your experience!