Bekira Rabinowitz from Canisius College in the US studying a Diploma in General Studies at USC Sunshine Coast

6Hello! My name is Bekira Rabinowitz and I’m a senior at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York studying Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. Even before I started my college journey, I knew I wanted to study abroad in Australia. This semester I was finally able to live that dream at the University of the Sunshine Coast!

One of the main reasons I was drawn to Australia was their wonderful, endemic wildlife! I have always had a passion for animals and would love to work with them after I finish my degree. I have worked and travelled from different zoos and animal sanctuaries all across the United States and familiarized myself with animals from all over the world. Now, I was given the chance to see some of these animals in their natural habitat and I was not disappointed!

I live in Chicago and we were in the middle of winter before I left for my journey down under. I had a bit of trouble adjusting from snow to summer, but the adjustment period was faster than I expected! On my first day arriving in Australia, I heard the call of the kooky kookaburra welcoming me into my new home for the next five months. I was overwhelmed with the beautiful palm trees and bottlebrushes, as well as the water dragons everywhere! I instantly felt relaxed as the ocean breeze rushed past.

I felt even more comfortable when I arrived at my accommodation and was invited to the pool on my first day. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and I met some of my best friends on that first day! I quickly became familiar with the campus and surrounding areas. Almost every single time I was on campus, I was greeted by the fuzzy faces of eastern grey kangaroos and their joeys, the colourful parade of the rainbow lorikeets, and so many other beautiful birds! It was overwhelming how many magnificent creatures I could see in my own backyard.

I was ecstatic at the prospect of seeing even more Australian animals, so I set my sights on the Australia Zoo! It was so easy to get around the Sunshine Coast with the help of my go card and the helpful locals. The zoo went above and beyond my expectations with their extensive animal collection as well as staff that was abundantly passionate about what they do. I got to see dingoes, saltwater crocodiles, and Tasmanian devils, but the real connection came when I was able to meet some Australian animals! I got to meet koalas, echidnas, cockatoos, red and grey kangaroos, wallabies, and even some pythons! It was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had.

Even though the semester was not what I had expected, in terms of the world pandemic, I was still able to enjoy my semester and learn so much! I was able to appreciate all that the Sunshine Coast had to offer and I know someday I’ll be back. This whole experience assured me that I am on the right path in life and for that I am extremely grateful. If you are wondering about taking the leap and journeying across the world, do it! It will be an unforgettable time!

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