As we get to know you through the application process to study abroad, it’s only fair that you know a bit about us too! Read on to learn more about the programs team behind all the emails and phone calls and our in-country staff who you will get to know during your time in Australia. And, of course, feel free to contact us anytime if you have questions!

Program Managers

Allison Kelley

Assistant Program Manager

Allison’s first experience overseas was her internship at a business school in Paris as an undergrad. That experience sparked her love of international education, and she is happy to now work at TEAN’s Chicago office on the Australia team. From the beaches to the wildlife to the laid-back lifestyle, Australia is an incredible place to spend a semester. Allison is excited to be able to help students study abroad in the Land Down Under!

Q&A

Explain a bit about your role at TEAN.
I work on several of our programs, helping advise students throughout the application process and prepare for their semester abroad. I am also on our custom programs team where I coordinate faculty-led programs.

How did your study abroad experience lead to you working at TEAN?
Between working at my school and working closely with my advisors before going abroad, I realized that I really enjoyed interacting with students and wanted to help other people experience the immense personal growth and independence that comes from traveling internationally. TEAN was the perfect fit in terms of its mission and structure, and I’m so happy to have ended up here!

What advice do you give to a student who wants to study abroad but has no idea where they should go?
I think the biggest question you should ask yourself is what you want to gain from the experience. Have you been studying a language your whole life and want an opportunity to use it? Do you want to experience a culture that is completely opposite from how you grew up? Do you want to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a big city or do you want to feel like a part of the community in a small town? Starting with these kinds of questions will help narrow down the list.

What makes TEAN HQ in Chicago a great place to work?
The TEAN office has a very positive atmosphere and is filled with people who are passionate about what they do. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues each day! Our office dog, Kora, is also a great addition to the team, and loves to visit our desks or join us in meetings.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Besides traveling, I love spending afternoons in coffee shops, going to concerts and virtually exploring the world on Google Earth street view! My goal this year is to be able to locate every country on a map.

Australia Staff

Andrea Ciotti

Resident Assistant - Newcastle

Originally from Tampa, Florida, Andrea attended the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, where she graduated with a degree in business focusing on marketing and sports management. After working in the NFL and collegiate athletic departments doing marketing, event planning and community outreach, Andrea headed back to university working as a marketing coordinator for  UCF’s on-campus housing department. Always up for an adventure, Andrea lived in North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania before falling in love with an Australian and moving to Newcastle, where she has now resided for over five years. As an American abroad in Australia, she’s excited to share Newcastle’s beauty and unique experiences with TEAN students and serve as a bridge between the U.S. and Australia.

Laura Carroll

Resident Director - NSW

Born and raised in Southern California, Laura went to California State University Long Beach where she studied nutrition and public health. Before beginning a career in international education, Laura worked in hospitality and volunteered in health care clinics. She has always enjoyed working with people from all different backgrounds, which is why she loves now working with international students while based in Sydney! A travel lover, she finds experiencing other cultures a great privilege and appreciates seeing the beautiful differences of each place she visits. You can also find her regularly reading a good book, cooking, hiking, swimming and doing yoga. Moving to Sydney has been a wonderful learning experience for Laura, a fact that helps her further connect to students as she’s able to relate with all the highs, lows and countless discoveries that come with living and studying abroad.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What do you do for TEAN and what is the best part of your job?
I am the New South Wales Resident Director working with students who study in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. The best part of my job is watching students grow throughout their study abroad experience!

What should be on every student’s bucket list for a semester in Australia?
There are so many things to pick from!! My absolute favorite thing I have done in Australia was go to Rottnest Island in Western Australia. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. There are no cars on the island, so you rent bikes and ride around beach hopping. There are amazing snorkeling spots, great beaches to lay out and the quokkas are the absolute cutest!

What are some must-do activities for every Sydney study abroad student?
Everyone should do the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk. If you do that and love it, then check out the Spit to Manly Coastal Walk. It’s a bit longer but so beautiful! You can also take the ferry to Manly Beach then, once you get to Manly Beach, walk up to Shelly Beach and go snorkeling. I also recommend heading to Newtown for some of the best vegan food around as well as great shopping and nightlife, wandering through Sydney’s amazing markets, like theGlebe and Marrickville markets, and seeing if there are any shows or concerts you’re interested in while you’re in Sydney – there are some really cool old theaters here!

Besides Sydney, what are some of your favorite places in Asia Pacific?
I loved Thailand for its culture – the people were so lovely, the food was amazing and seeing elephants is hard to beat! Of course, the beaches are gorgeous and I loved all the fun shopping too. I would highly recommend visiting Thailand while students are living in Australia. It’s very affordable and it’s so close!

What is the best meal (or food) you’ve had while traveling abroad?
When I was in Bali, I tried this jackfruit curry dish in Ubud. It was unbelievably delicious and the texture was amazing. This introduced me to cooking with jackfruit, which is now a weekly staple at my house. All the food in Bali was so fresh. I loved how you could buy tempe and tofu wrapped in banana leaves on the side of the road!

Photo of TEAN Staff Dharma Bendersky

Dharma Bendersky

Director of Operations - Australia

Born in Sydney, Dharma studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong where he lived with many study abroad students and formed life-long friendships. This led to a career in international education and travel, where he has worked for over 20 years at Australian universities, study abroad companies, and leading educational tours around Australia and Asia Pacific. A dual Australian/American citizen, he has lived in and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, and is a keen surf and landscape photographer. Dharma has a passion for adventure and new experiences, and enjoys working for TEAN to help others have life-changing intercultural experiences that encourage personal and professional growth.

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
Director of Operations in Australia. I oversee all the programs and in-country staff.

What are some must-do activities for a first-time visitor to Sydney?
Doing the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk, visiting the Blue Mountains, taking a ferry on the harbor and simply enjoying a day spent at any of the city’s amazing beaches.

What is unique about an educational experience in Asia Pacific?
There’s a wide variety of locations and something for everyone. Want a big city? Sydney and Melbourne have you covered. Want to live near the beach? The Gold Coast, Newcastle or Wollongong are for you. Want to try something off the beaten path? Townsville or Perth are amazing. Want to live in paradise? Nothing beats Fiji. Want somewhere laid back and beautiful that has a lot to offer? Anywhere in New Zealand is a great idea. Want to experience Asian culture? Thailand or Singapore offer unique settings and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. TEAN’s partner universities in Asia Pacific also each have excellent education systems with world class academics and facilities, plus a wide variety of institutions and subjects to choose from.

What advice would you give a hesitant, nervous future traveler?
While it can be hard to leave your comfort zone, spending time abroad (regardless of if it’s just one week or an entire year) will change your life for the better. No one ever regrets spending time in another country and culture. As they say, travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer!

You mentioned that you have a passion for photography. What is the most photogenic city you’ve been to?
With its harbor and beaches, Sydney has lots of amazing opportunities to capture great scenic images. I also love Paris for its architecture and style.