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!
Meet Team Newcastle
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. Allison works with students going to the University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong. 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!
Resident Assistant - Newcastle
Nathan was born and raised in the Newcastle area of Australia and is currently completing his Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)/ Bachelor of Business at the University of Newcastle. Growing up playing all kinds of sports, he traveled throughout Hong Kong, France and the U.K. with his rugby team in high school and predictably caught the travel bug. He later spent a semester abroad at the University of Iowa and then, when that wasn’t enough, packed his bags and headed to Beijing to live and work as a project management intern. He previously worked with the University of Newcastle Exchange Student Network, and now brings with him a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to help ensure TEAN students witness the beautiful Newcastle area in all her glory.
Resident Director - NSW
Jenn, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, fell in love with study abroad in 2012 when she completed a teaching internship at Sydney’s oldest primary school. After returning home, she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and International Studies and aimed to gain diverse teaching experiences since she felt teaching shouldn’t be limited to a classroom setting. She has worked has an educator in a variety of different educational programs with students of all ages at museums, career camps, and zoos and now loves to share her love for Australia and it’s amazing culture with TEAN students. Jenn was previously the Resident Assistant for TEAN in Brisbane now is based in Sydney as the local Resident Director.
What first brought you to Australia?
During my junior year of college I decided I would do a teaching internship abroad in Australia. It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions of my life. My placement was at a public primary school which happened to be the first school established in Sydney in 1869. I stayed for the entire year working on tasks that included lesson plan development, art and physical education activities, speech therapy, presentations, assembly material and more. Observing and discovering Australia’s different approaches to teaching made me realize the importance of helping students discover their individual talents and learning styles without putting too much emphasis or attention on standardized testing results. Upon my return to the U.S., I finished my degree in Education and Global Studies with the intent to explore education related career paths with more global involvement and perspective.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My absolute favorite part of my job is seeing or hearing stories about TEAN students who have stepped out of their comfort zones while abroad and are very pleased afterward that they did. There’s nothing like moments of self doubt followed by accomplishment and feeling proud of yourself for doing something new. Many of our students have numerous experiences like this while abroad and realize there’s no person or thing here to hold them back from some truly amazing opportunities. The Aussies often say “just have a go” and it’s an expression I’ve never taken lightly – I never regret trying new things!
What makes Sydney a great place to study or intern abroad?
Sydney is a big and diverse city boasting a wide range of lifestyles and multicultural groups. I love it because people from all over the world have decided to make it their home. It is a very accepting city and is always hosting the neatest events around town that support various groups. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is breathtaking and the Opera House is such a beautiful icon that I often find myself on its steps reflecting after a long week. It always leaves me in awe of how lucky I am to live in such a great city.
What was the transition like moving from Brisbane to Sydney?
Sydney has more than twice as many people living in it compared to Brisbane, so they are very different cities that offer completely different lifestyles. I lived in Brisbane for two years and loved its country-town feel (as any girl from Nashville would be able to appreciate). Brisbane is situated in an ideal spot in Queensland for exploring the beaches to both the north and south as well as its hidden hinterland. I miss its warm weather and continuous sunshine. The city itself was small so very easy to get acquainted with in a short amount of time, which can be ideal for study abroad students – you feel at home right away! The Brisbane River was one of my favorite things about ‘Brissy’ as it kept the entire city connected and made it quick to get around on speedy Citycat ferries. In Sydney, on the other hand, you seldom even have to leave the city to find adventure. It always has huge sporting events, concerts, art exhibitions, cultural festivals, markets and so much more. I love that it sees four seasons as opposed to Brisbane and has plenty of scenic hikes with views of the harbor around it.
Director - South Pacific
Michelle has more than 25 years experience in International Education. Michelle started working for The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Study Abroad office part time whilst she was a student completing her Bachelor of Science. After graduating Michelle then accepted a full time role which led to her love of international education. Over the past 25 years Michelle has worked at UNSW with Study Abroad, Exchange programs and full degree students and has been involved in various leadership roles during this time. As part of the Senior Management Team for the International Centre Michelle provided strategic advice to developing pathways to international education programs and developed key relationships within the international education community. Michelle oversaw the management of the Study Abroad & Exchange program and was most recently Deputy Director: Global Education and Recruitment prior to her current role with TEAN.
What led you to your current role as TEAN’s Director – South Pacific?
I’ve worked in study abroad for more than 25 years at UNSW…20 of which was with the TEAN program! I managed the Study Abroad & Exchange portfolios at UNSW and when I was approached to take on this new role, I was very excited to try something new with a company that I have a lot of respect for. I love what TEAN does – from recruitment to in-country support and everything in between. We are truly hands-on and our students have the experience of a lifetime.
What originally got you into the field?
While I was studying at UNSW I worked casually in the Study Abroad Office and met some great international students. I don’t mean to sound cliche but I loved being involved in their life-changing experiences – that was what hooked me. I was originally just going to continue for a year and then move to the U.K. but obviously the job changed my career path indefinitely.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing the students live their best life. I also love seeing and hearing about their experiences while abroad, like what changed them and what they didn’t expect. They leave our program a different person – one that is ready to take on the world. Again a cliche but it’s true!
What are some of the common challenges student have to overcome to study in Australia?
Students are shocked by how different Australia actually is from the U.S. They see the same icons and pop culture but, underneath, we have a very different culture. I think students can sometimes go through culture shock more than if going to study in a country with another language because the differences aren’t obvious at first so are very surprising. The university degrees are set up differently here too. Most degrees are only three years and there aren’t as many electives. Australia’s teaching methods and assessments are different as well, more independent which I feel students get used to and like. Worrying about credits transferring to home universities is a concern so students need to work closely with their advisors before leaving their home schools.
In your experience what makes Sydney a great place to study abroad?
Australia overall has excellent universities, incredible cities and is very safe. Sydney in particular is a fabulous multicultural city that offers absolutely anything and everything you could want. The busy weekly lifestyle gives way to laid back weekends and exploring new areas, taking in shows at the Opera House, or a sporting match at the former Olympic Park. Or you can just grab brunch or coffee at the beach! You can make your experience what you want.