Senior Experiences Life ‘Down Under’

A William Woods University senior spent last semester “down under” studying and working in Sydney, Australia. While there, she pet a kangaroo, fed a wallabie and cuddled a koala, but she says her experience entailed so much more.


The student, Sara Piland of Arlington, Texas, just outside Dallas, said her Study Abroad experience was a “huge eye opener.”


During the four months Piland spent in Australia, she did a marketing internship with Catharsis Yacht Charters. She wrote marketing plans and put together brochures, newsletters and postcards to promote the new company.


The communications/public relations major was “particularly proud” that sales went up 400 percent while she was there and the company met quota for the first time in December.


In addition to her internship, she took two evening classes. One covered Australian/Asian relations and the other was Aboriginal studies. For the combined internship and classwork, she earned 16 college credit hours.


“It was such an invaluable experience,” she said.


This wasn’t Piland’s first trip abroad. She spent a year in Brazil during high school as a Rotary Exchange Student. This time, she went with a group of students from the Arcadia University (Pa.) Center for Education Abroad. There were six interns staying in Sydney as part of the program. They all lived in the same apartment complex and became a “little family.”


While working and studying took up a good portion of their time, they still managed to travel extensively. The trick was “We didn’t sleep very much.”

Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef was “awesome,” Piland said. During a four-day, three-night stay, she obtained her advanced scuba diver certification and completed 20 dives. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.”

Other adventures included backpacking and sleeping under the stars in the Outback; visiting Broome, the pearling capital of the world; enjoying the beaches of Perth, and swimming in the Indian Ocean (which she described as “gorgeous”).


She spent 10 days in New Zealand, too, arriving the day after Lord of the Rings III opened in Auckland. There she hiked up a glacier, visited the glowworm caves, saw the boiling mud pools and sulphur springs.


“I also did tons of surfing in Sydney, Byron Bay and Auckland,” Piland said. “In fact, I went surfing the morning I flew home!”


Piland highly recommends Study Abroad to others, and plans to continue her own adventures after graduation in May. Although she hasn’t made a final decision, she is considering backpacking through Asia—working and exploring the countryside.


“People our age have the mind frame, the physical ability and the ambition to do this. We don’t have anything holding us back; so why aren’t we out there achieving our goals? This is the time to do it; in 20 years when we have other commitments, we’ll regret not doing it now.”