100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

Uni student discovers new interests, explores different cultures in study abroad program

Do you have a news tip? Click here to send to our news team.

Photo of the day: rise and shine

"So lovely to see the sun. Lots of fishing boats out and about." Penny Robertson snapped this photo from the Castaways Beach carpark. If you More

Champions crowned on wild weekend at The Aussies

The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships came to a thrilling conclusion at Maroochydore during the weekend, when the best athletes came to the fore More

Foodie festival line-up promises to tantalise tastebuds

The program for the Sunshine Coast’s premier food and drink festival has been revealed, with a riverside showcase of beers and spirits among the More

Sami Muirhead: fond memories of the 1990s

Natalie Imbruglia and I go way back. Many of us loved her when she played Beth Brennan in TV soap opera Neighbours. That was in 1992 More.

‘Huge mess’: jewellery store targeted by ram raid

A century-old Coast jewellers has praised the community for its support after the business was targeted by an early morning ram raid. K. Smith and More

Your say: highway upgrade, bank relocation and more

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name More

A Sunshine Coast woman’s love for research and writing has been rediscovered among farming communities of Timor-Leste, where she started a string of overseas study opportunities.

Buderim’s Natalie Mullins was one of 13 Charles Sturt University students who travelled to the southeast Asian country as part of the Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Education program funded by the New Colombo Plan.

During the two-week immersive program, students gained insights into agricultural production and sustainable living in the Asia-Pacific region by engaging with various industries and livelihood activities such as cropping, forestry, fisheries and livestock.

For Ms Mullins, exploring and understanding the natural environment has always been a big part of her life.

“Since leaving school I’ve done an array of work from outdoor education camps to working in the classroom with young students, to living out at sea on a boat,” she said via a Charles Sturt University media release.

“I began my marine biology degree in Townsville, deferred to complete my divemaster’s on Magnetic Island and afterwards worked at sea culling the crown of thorns sea star.

“After doing this I relocated to the Sunshine Coast and fell back into outdoor education and made the decision to study environmental science.

Science student Natalie Mullins is set to study in three countries within a year.

“I spent ages trying to find a degree that would fit my work-focused lifestyle, which meant being away Mondays to Fridays on camp programs.”

Charles Sturt University offered the flexibility she needed, and she is now enrolled in her third year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Earth Science.

“Ever since studying environmental science in school, I’ve had my mind set on doing two things – one was becoming a crown of thorns diver, which I have since done, and the second was working in mine rehabilitation,” she said.

“This goal, alongside my background in outdoor education and wanting our future generations to experience the outdoors as I have been fortunate enough to, are my main drivers for studying science.”

Related story: Scholarship student set for ‘life-changing’ overseas opportunity

Since attending the Timor-Leste study program, her career goals have shifted slightly.

She and her peers at Charles Sturt collaborated with local agricultural students who provided access to key research projects and stakeholders unavailable to the average tourist.

“Going to Timor-Leste and completing my post trip report of climatic impacts on the sustainable livelihoods of the Timorese people reminded me of my love for research and report writing,” she said.

Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. Picture: Shutterstock.

“I’m starting to focus on heading down an academia route now and being able to assist in communities where possible.”

Discovering new passions and exploring different cultures are just two of a long list of benefits to come from the study abroad program.

“As a distance education student, having the opportunity to connect in person with peers and hear about their journeys and aspirations was amazing,” she said.

“The opportunity to explore Timor-Leste and learn about things you wouldn’t be able to as an everyday tourist, as well as being able to meet and discuss bigger-picture issues with likeminded people, was really beneficial and eye-opening for me.”

Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences senior lecturer in human geography Dr Jennifer Bond also attended the trip and encouraged everyone to apply for these types of opportunities.

“The Timor-Leste trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both the students and myself as we were able to explore agriculture and rural development there in a way that no tourist can do,” Dr Bond said.

A farming community in Timor-Leste. Picture: Shutterstock

“The trip included high-level meetings in Dili and farm tours in the regions to explore agriculture at different scales.

“However, more critically, the trip included visits to key cultural and historical sites such as the Chega! Exhibition, the Timorese Resistance Archive Museum and Balibo, so that students could see the current agricultural context holistically in terms of Timor-Leste’s past.”

Ms Mullins is now ready to embark on another overseas study journey.

“I am heading to Cambodia in February for another study tour where I’m really excited to explore a new destination and refine my writing skills,” she said.

“While in Timor-Leste, I was also in the process of applying for a New Colombo Plan scholarship, and upon my return I had an interview and was successful … (so) I will be moving to Malaysia later this year to complete language training, study and intern for 12 to 18 months.”

Charles Sturt Global programs give students an international experience as part of their degree.

From a six to 12-month exchange at an overseas university, to short-term study, faculty-led programs, internships or work placements, there are multiple overseas opportunities.

Like stories about Sunshine Coast people doing great things? Help us deliver more by registering for our FREE daily news feed. All it requires is your name and email at the bottom of this article.

[scn_go_back_button] Return Home

Subscribe to SCN’s daily news email

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.