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From the College of Natural Sciences
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Globetrotting: Gathering Plankton in the Shadow of the Sydney Skyline

Globetrotting: Gathering Plankton in the Shadow of the Sydney Skyline

Erin Elbel, an honors biology major in the college, sends us a postcard from Sydney, Australia, where she's spending a semester abroad.

Erin-webI’m spending a semester of my sophomore year in Australia as part of an exchange program at the University of Sydney, and am having an absolutely phenomenal time. Here I am on a cruise through Sydney Harbour.

I live in beautiful Bondi beach, travel every weekend, and am volunteering in the play therapy department of Sydney Children’s Hospital (which is not only giving me a lot of insight into practicing medicine and medical research in Australia, but lets me play with the cutest little Aussie kids).

Oh, and there’s some science involved too. I’m taking a Marine Biology class that centers on excursions to beaches and estuaries surrounding Sydney.  Gathering plankton really can be enjoyable if you’re doing it overlooking the Sydney skyline!  I’m also taking Australian Vertebrates and their Origins, learning about everything from kangaroos to indigenous Australian frogs, and studying how a communicable cancer is spreading through the Tasmanian devil population.  I’m getting seven hours of biology credit for these classes, all of which count toward my honors biology degree at UT.  I’m also getting social science credit with an Intro to Psychology course, and fine arts credit with a course in Australian Theatre and Film (also an excursion-based class—I’m watching plays all over the city!).

Going abroad has been the best thing I’ve ever done to develop myself as a person. I'm thankful every day that I’m here.  I would love to talk to any science students contemplating research and study abroad. It’s worth it, even if it means you have to take summer school to catch up.  This is the only time in your life you’ll be able to have an experience like this, and your time at UT will absolutely be enhanced by going!

Wish you were here,
Erin Elbel

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Thursday, 23 September 2021

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