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Study Abroad Tests Courage, Openness to New Experiences
Susquehanna University
Susquehanna University

February 26, 2018

Darren Hamric is admittedly terrified of many things. It is interesting, then, that he chose Focus Australia for his Global Opportunities experience. Australia—home to giant spiders, deadly box jellyfish and violent cassowaries, large emu-like birds.

It may be that Hamric is braver than he thinks.

Geared toward biology majors, Focus Australia concentrates on the history, culture and biogeography of New South Wales, the Northern Territory and far northern Queensland. The study tour includes opportunities to experience Sydney, the outback, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

"I've always wanted to go to Australia," Hamric said, "because the biology there is so interesting." In doing so, the senior political science major stared down many of his fears: heights, the ocean and critters.

Hamric climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge—an ascension of approximately 400 feet—and hiked through the sacred Aboriginal sites of Uluru and King's Canyon, the walls of which are more than 300 feet high.

"We were strapped to the bridge, but it didn't make it any less terrifying for me," he said.

Hamric went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, seeing up close the reef's remarkable wildlife and the effects of climate change.

"The reef is like an undersea forest, so when you're snorkeling above it you really get a great opportunity to see it," he said. "But it's so much different when you get into it. There are fish swimming all around you and the colors are so bright."

Hamric went on a sunset camel ride in the outback where he encountered trees full of giant orb-weaver spiders, kangaroos, wallabies and dingoes. He also camped in the Daintree Rainforest where he went on a crocodile tour, night spotting for brushtail possums and platypus and encountered a family of cassowaries.

"More than anything else the program provided me the ability and the courage to break out and do things that I never would have imagined myself doing," he said.

Looking forward to a career in government, Hamric will relocate to Camden, N.J., after graduation to accept a position with AmeriCorps to help low-income students go to college.

"Susquehanna has had such a big impact on my life," he said. "AmeriCorps is an adventure for me that I don't know I would have had the courage to take if I hadn't had those experiences in Australia."

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