Student Stories: Marine science down under

April 08, 2011

Amanda Miller last spring went to what she believes is the best place in the world to study marine science -- Brisbane, Australia.

"Looking back, I wouldn't change a single part of it," she said. "I'll probably never experience anything like that again."

Now a senior, the Environmental Resource Management major from Ellicott City, Md., took four classes through Penn State's study-abroad program at the University of Queensland. She lived in a college dorm with more than 600 Australians and at least 10 other Americans.

The students had different majors and specializations, but they had a common bond -- a concentration on and fascination with marine sciences and natural resources.

"I was very blessed to have done my marine science minor in Brisbane because it gave me a lot of hands-on experience," Miller said. "We studied the marine environment, coral reefs, conservation, and coastal management and processes. We had an advantage by being near the coast.

"I loved studying in Australia because, aside from its cities, it was so untouched with serene, pollution-free ecosystems," she said. "We truly could appreciate the quality of the environment there, and that made me eager to learn about it."

But studying was not all Miller and the other students accomplished. They traveled both independently and through program-sponsored trips. "I was in Brisbane for only two or three weekends," she said."I learned to be more independent and was immersed."

She visited the Gold Coast beaches, the city of Sydney, the Fiji Islands and the Whitsunday Islands, off the central coast of Queensland, where she went scuba diving for the first time. She also went bungee jumping, skydiving and whitewater rafting.

Miller even climbed the Tongariro Alpine slope -- an active volcano in New Zealand around which the movie, The Lord of the Rings, was filmed.

Miller wants to go back to Australia some day. "I felt more motivated to go into my field there, and I was reassured that marine science is my passion."

  • Amanda Miller (middle row, left) poses with other students above an Australian lake.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 13, 2011