Upon her return from a semester at the University of Newcastle in Australia, fourth-year public relations student Kim Osborne couldn’t wait to share stories of snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, sleeping under the Southern Cross in the Outback and partying it up at the famous Mardis Gras festival in Sydney.
Now, after signing on with an Australian government program, Osborne will be sharing more than just scrapbook photos with her fellow students. Osborne is one of 42 students chosen from 90 international applicants to represent the Embassy of Australia at their respective schools, from University of Texas to University of Toronto. These representatives North American students who have studied in Australia and Australian students currently at American or Canadian universities will organize travel awareness events and social media campaigns on behalf of the Embassy. The program is part of the Australian Trade Commission’s efforts to promote Australia’s education opportunities in North America and create links between the two continents.
Osborne said she was encouraged to enter the selective interview process after several weeks of posting a weekly travel blog titled Stratting Down Under for the Embassy’s student blogging program.StudyAbroad recently ranked Australia No. 6 in most popular educational destinations, following England, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. Last year, the study abroad office sent 46 students to Australia and 10 to New Zealand, either through global exchange programs or direct enrollment, collectively making up 6 percent of students who studied overseas. According to Study Abroad adviser Rachel Hardison, students are finding several reasons to spend a semester in the South Pacific.
A lot of students are interested in Australia because it’s an English speaking country, which means they automatically have more classes to choose from,Hardison said. It’s especially attractive to students with intensive majors. We have a lot of engineering and marine science students go there.Osborne said she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to travel to the South Pacific with her USC tuition money.I had known since freshman year that I wanted to study abroad and that I wanted to go to Australia,Osborne said.Europe seems like it would a more accessible destination after graduating, but going to Australia is a long trip that I probably wouldn’t ever be able to make again.
As an ambassador, Osborne will organize at least four events in during the academic year with a $100 stipend each semester from the Australian Trade Commission. She has begun her campaign by starting a Gamecocks Down Under Facebook group for students interested in travel opportunities to Australia. Osborne hopes that working as an ambassador will eventually lead to a job in with the Embassy in Melbourne. She is most excited about helping students get started on the study abroad process, especially with the approach approaching deadline for spring semester programs on Oct. 1.I’m really looking forward to being a mentor sharing my experiences with others,Osborne said.I made some amazing memories in Australia, and I want other students to have that same chance by considering studying abroad anywhere.