EIU Spotlight: Host Family Reunites

EIU grad and local teacher McLain Schaefer reunites with his Australian host family, five years later.

This summer we had the privilege of meeting McLain’s host parents Roger & Kay, and hearing many shared memories between the trio from McLain’s time abroad in 2009.

While completing a student teaching experience, students may live in an apartment, with a host family, or in numerous other arrangements. McLain relates what it was like to come home at the end of the day to his “family” away from home.

Thanks to our CATS dept for a beautiful video, and to McLain, Roger & Kay for sharing this little slice of life with us!

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Q&A: New Zealand & Australia

We just recently welcomed home a group of students from a month-long tour of Australia and New Zealand. They saw everything from wine country to koalas, went bungee jumping, and climbed glaciers – all the while earning 6 credits for Intercultural Communication here at EIU.

We caught up with EIU senior Jersey Milano who is majoring in Interpersonal Communication, and asked a few questions about his time spent “down under.”

Q: Talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?
A: My favorite spot was Napier, New Zealand because of the wine tastings and the awesome black stone beach where I watched the sunrise.  Napier is compared to Napa Valley’s wine country.

Q: Did a local point you to a market, pub or park you didn’t know about?
A: In Cairns Australia, there was a souvenir shop that the highest price I saw was $17 for a hoodie.  They had shot glasses, stuffed koalas, cozies, shirts, mugs, and much more.  When I went there to get souvenirs for my family, I bought three 12 packs of koalas, a bigger koala, 3 pack of shot glasses, a koozie, a hoodie, and a mug all for only $30.

Q: What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
A: My toughest day while abroad was in Franz Josef, New Zealand. I have a disability known as cerebral palsy.  I have never let it hold me back, but in Franz Josef, it held me back.  Everyone was able to climb a glacier but it was the smartest decision for me not to climb it.  I did not want to get stuck on the glacier and have a helicopter airlift me off of the glacier.  I felt weak but it was for the best.

Q: You’re probably homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?
A: I am homesick for Queenstown’s very own Fergburger.  While there, it was the best burger in the whole wide world.  There needs to be a location here!!

Q: You could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?  
A: The most shocking thing I witnessed was actually being face to face with a kangaroo in Port Douglas, Australia.  I never thought I would be able to pet it, let alone feed the kangaroo.

Thanks for sharing, Jersey!

[Guest post]: A Temporary Australian

When asked to name a city in Australia, most people will say either Sydney or Melbourne. I was one of those people until last spring, when I was placed in Perth, Australia. 

Perth Australia

Tim P., Perth, Australia

When I originally applied for the COST program, I listed Australia as my number one choice because I wanted to student teach in one of those cities. When I found out that I would be teaching in Perth, the first thing I did was Google where Perth was located (Western Australia).  At first I was disappointed that I was not in Sydney, but now I am glad I got placed in Perth.

I want to clear up a few common myths about Australia that I heard numerous times before I left on my journey:

First, kangaroos and koalas are not all over the place roaming the streets like EIU squirrels. It actually took me a month before I got to see either, but yes they are both awesome and it was well worth the wait.

Second, toilets do not flush the opposite way. That was a myth that was started by the Simpsons.

Third, it is not always warm and sunny in Australia. I started in the winter so it was rainy and about 40-50 degrees. Thankfully I packed enough warm clothes.

Finally, big spiders and snakes are not everywhere. I have yet to see either a snake or a spider.

Perth is right on the coast, and has many beautiful beaches.  It also has many great parks and forest that I have explored. So far my favorite part of the journey was going to a wildlife park; I got to pet and feed kangaroos, got up close to koalas, which if you do not know are normally shy animals that are sleeping most of the time.  I also had an opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, which was spectacular and something that I will never forget.

Those are just a few of many memorable things I have experienced while studying abroad with the COST program. I think every future teacher should look into the COST program because I have learned so much about others and myself while teaching in Australia. If you are not a future teacher, you should still look into studying abroad. College is a perfect opportunity to explore the rest of the world. Studying aboard offers you a once in a lifetime chance to do amazing things, while still earning college credit, what can be better?

Tim Patula is a Kinesiology and Sports Studies major with K-12 teacher certification. He completed his student teaching in Perth, Australia with the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching (COST) in Fall 2012. To learn more about the COST program, click here.

Originally published in the Daily Eastern News: November 29, 2012: http://ow.ly/gW9PP