A Day at Taronga Zoo

Programs for this blog post

Australian Wildlife Conservation From Land to Sea

Authored By:

Alex Mirande

This blog post was written by one of our students, Sam!

Hello everyone! My name is Sam Feldman, and I am a rising Senior from Raleigh, North Carolina. For my final academic break as a high school student, I knew that I wanted to do something different from other students. I wanted something that would stretch my comfort zone and take place far away from home, as well as an environment that would challenge me academically. I wasn’t just focused on the academic side, though; I knew I wanted to adventure, travel the world, meet new people, make new friends, and create memories that would last me a lifetime. Through a combination of all of these factors (and lots of research), I settled on CIEE Sydney, due to its amazing location as well as its unique combination of biological, environmental, and ecological studies. 

So far, the program has been everything I wanted it to be and more! I was initially quite nervous about finding friends, since I knew absolutely nobody coming in and I would be living with these people for almost a month. However, within five minutes of arriving at the LAX airport terminal on the first day, I began talking to the other students and quickly realized that making friends was going to be much easier than I thought. Although everyone in the program comes from different places, cultures, religions, and backgrounds, we could easily unite over a unique sense of independence, a desire to explore and travel the world, and a common motivation to excel academically. 

Life in Sydney itself is the pinnacle of the program, a truly irreplicable experience unlike any other. The culture is unmatched, and the entire city just feels like an improved version of the United States. The locals are remarkably kind, the local cuisine is incredible, and the city is clean and possesses great public transportation. The program’s academic rigor is present, yet quite manageable, and the instruction (led by the one and only Rick Daly!) is top-notch. What I’m learning here differentiates from my classes in school because rather than consisting of my teachers spewing facts at me, CIEE challenges me to think for myself and come up with my own real-world solutions to real-world problems rather than observe the work of someone else. 

Our classwork has not just been limited to the classroom, though! For every single lesson, we have participated in a unique academic or cultural experience. This has ranged from incredible whale-watching excursions to behind-the-scenes museum tours. Today’s work was encapsulated in a visit to the Taronga Zoo, where we explored the zoo in groups, observing the endemic flora and fauna and laying eyes upon the animals we studied in class for the first time. We also received an exciting lesson from a reproductive zoologist, where we engaged in exciting guessing games and moved from exhibit to exhibit, discussing the unique evolutionary patterns of various Australian mammals. As we trek into week two, I eagerly anticipate working with new academic knowledge and ecological insight as my amazing new friends and I continue to explore the vast reaches of animal and environmental science. I can’t believe that I’ve only been here for a week, because my friends feel more like family than anything else. But I guess, as the old saying goes, time really does fly when you’re having fun.