Surprise! You’re Invited to Australia!

View photos from Australia

In the middle of a cold and dreary January, Stephani Germann opened the mail to find an incredible and surprising opportunity to enjoy 10 days in Australia. She was invited to participate in the Nursing Delegation of the International Scholar Laureate Program, which provides a culturally-immersive experience to nominated students.

“At first, I thought it was a mistake and wondered why this was coming to me,” said Stephani, a Phi Theta Kappa member who is applying to the Registered Nursing program.

“I definitely wanted to go because it was Australia. Once I started looking into it, I was all for it.  It was just a matter of figuring out the money,” she said.

The trip, which stopped in Melbourne and Sydney, included airfare between cities, meals, hotels and some lectures. The program also offered students an extra three days of vacation near the Great Barrier Reef at the end of the trip.

Stephani had to come up with about $4,000 out of her pocket to make it a reality. “I just borrowed from everyone I could. Even my own neighbor helped,” she said. “Thankfully, my grandmother helped with most of it.”

The lectures she attended throughout her trip focused on how nursing in Australia is similar or different from the U.S. However, Stephani said there was one major point of emphasis. “Part of what they explained was their work with the Aborigines. They are trying to get them to visit doctors to improve their health and help them live longer,” she said.

Stephani said she was always interested in nursing and that this experience reaffirmed her career choice. “Seeing a new country, including hospitals and site visits got me excited about nursing all over again. I’d never been out of the country before,” she said.

Prior to her arrival, Stephani admits she always pictured the Outback whenever someone mentioned Australia. Now, she said Sydney reminded her of New York City and the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne was similar to a super-sized version of Green Dragon.

During the trip, Stephani and the other students were usually given free time for dinner on their own. In Melbourne, she said there was a restaurant where employees would bargain with you on the street to come and eat there. She also had the opportunity to try kangaroo meat, which you could find packaged in the local grocery store like ground beef.

Overall, she said scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef and touring the rainforest will rank among her most memorable experiences from what turned out to be an amazing surprise in the mail that day.