The Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy in the Doisy College of Health Sciences is a graduate program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. In the Jesuit traditions of the pursuit of truth, development of the whole person, and commitment to service and justice, our community – faculty, staff, and students – prepares doctors of physical therapy who provide reflective, person-centered care that is interprofessional and evidenced-based.
The opportunity to study abroad inside of a 6 year freshman entry DPT Program is certainly unique. Even more so is the opportunity to pick any site that Saint Louis University has to offer.
So where should you go if you were to study abroad as a PT student? We interviewed several PT students who have studied abroad to give you an idea of where you can go and to show that student’s experience. The first student to be interviewed was Mark Luegering, who studied in Australia.
Why did you choose your site?
I chose Bond Uni (aka University, but everyone calls it Uni down there) in Australia because I was fortunate enough to travel abroad with some of my high school classmates 5 years prior. Since I had the opportunity to experience the rich culture in Europe, I then decided that Australia could produce new challenges and experiences for me so I had to go there. Also, lots of sun and beaches did not hurt the prospect of studying in Australia any.
What did you anticipate? Were you nervous? Excited? I anticipated very little to be quite honest. I did not have to worry about a language barrier and I also had 6-8 friends study with me so I knew I could count on them in tough situations. I was nervous about juggling school and traveling/sightseeing. I was excited about traveling and being in a completely opposite part of the globe. I was also excited about experiencing the Australian culture and way of life.
What surprised you the most about your experience? What about the other culture surprised or shocked you? What surprised me most was how large the country/continent really is. I booked a 3 month train ticket for unlimited travel along the eastern coast (all the major cities), but was not very happy when my first trip was 12 hours (Sydney to Melbourne). Seeing as the trip from Bond Uni (where you study) to Sydney was 12 hours, Sydney to Melbourne was 12 hours I made a 24 hour trip 3 times, a 12 hour trip 6 times, and multiple short hour trips up to Brisbane over the course of my stay. Completely worth it in the end, but the lack of sleep was a bit of a surprise and damper initially.
What did you see (monuments, historical sites, palaces, etc.) that impressed you the most? Great Barrier Reef (Cairns), Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge (climbed it), Rod Laver Arena (Melbourne), lots of kangaroos and wallabies (Kangaroo Island). It was lots of fun, but not nearly as full of a rich culture and rich history as most of Europe is so it depends on your reason for choosing the experience.
Can you describe some of the food that you loved best? Any food experiences that didn’t go as planned/well? Kangaroo, crocodile, and eel were the most exotic things I ate (all pretty good - kangaroo was the best, tasted like venison). French fries were the best I have ever had, seriously, no joke. I fell in love with Thai food in Australia. The seafood was really good - the best was by the beach at small dive shops, maybe because we were super hungry though. All Asian cuisine was fantastic (Australia had lots of Asian immigrants in the 1900’s).
Did you make friends with some of the people native to that site? What was that experience like? Did they make you notice things about your own culture that surprised you?Bond Uni has a very diverse campus with about 50% enrollment being exchange students. No lifelong friends were made, but I did meet and hang out with lots of Australians and Europeans and really enjoyed the experience. I can’t remember too many specifics from our interactions.
How were your classes? Did you have the opportunity to take a class that fit into the culture of that site (such as art history of Spain, etc.)? I loved my classes. Australian history was a little boring because they really don’t have much of one since they have only been a nation since 1901 I believe. I took a photography class for my fine arts credit – it was probably the best choice I made while I was there. I got amazing pictures everywhere including the Great Barrier Reef (I’ll attach one so you all can see).
Would you recommend that other PT students study abroad? Would you recommend your site to them? Definitely study abroad as a PT student. The curriculum is very tough, so taking that semester off and enjoying yourself is a great treat. I have some good friends in PT school that stayed that also loved it though, were able to get more involved on campus and such. It comes down to personal preference, but I definitely recommend it to all students. Bond Uni was a lot of fun so I totally recommend it to anyone.