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 Gold Coast
Kate studied abroad with TEAN at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia where the week was meant for soaking up the culture of the city while the weekends were made for exploring the coast. She has fond memories of dodging flying foxes, riding the City Cat to random stops on the Brisbane River and her first Tim Tam Slam in the Daintree Rainforest. She has been on the other side of the study abroad process for more than six years now as a Senior Program Manager and lead for TEAN Bond and ICMS. Kate also joins Brynne Shannon on “Team Green” to promote sustainability, social justice and cultural perspective assessment for study abroad students. IG: @ktmcsurley
What is your favorite part of working with students?
For me, I love the first call with a student who has decided to take the leap and study abroad. They know they want to do it, but the idea of checking off all the steps is overwhelming, scary and seemingly impossible. When they realize we are committed to making this easy for them and I hear that sense of relief at the end of our chat, it always reminds me why I love what I do.
Why should students consider studying abroad in Australia?
Some students underestimate the complexity of Australia and don’t realize that it has vastly different locations and environments, similar to the unique cities and environments you can experience across the U.S. Even though the country may at first seem relatively similar to the U.S. compared to other study abroad destination, studying in Australia certainly doesn’t mean you up on the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of cultural and outdoor experiences. Here students can access rainforests, reefs, deserts, wildlife, cities and dramatically different landscapes, all without having to cross international borders.
As a TEAN alum and now employee, what do you think makes TEAN unique?
Everyone at TEAN is completely committed to encouraging study abroad experiences. It really is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. As a student, I was taken aback by the level of support and service I received from TEAN staff. Now, I understand the sense of responsibility to ease the burden and shorten the hurdles for our students because there is so much value to studying abroad. We truly believe in what we do.
Where did you study abroad?
After first considering Melbourne for its prestigious reputation and quirky cafe culture, I switched to the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, right outside of Brisbane. I realized I might have a better chance of warm weather for my entire program if I headed for the Sunshine State. Now having traveled to both, I’m confident I would have been happy in either location, but UQ’s campus was the perfect escape from the harsh midwestern winters I was used to in Chicago. I really fell into the laidback Brisbane lifestyle more than anything and quickly understood it’s much more than just great weather. It’s a perfect city for international students because it has the right balance of culture, sport and access to adventure. The twisting Brisbane River gives you front door ferry service to very unique neighborhoods all with their own character and style. The ocean is within easy reach for a weekend jaunt (but spending a night at the manmade beaches of South Bank can be just as breathtaking). The views from Mt. Coot-tha are surreal, especially at sunset, and the city’s a great place for students who want to enjoy both city life and exploring the great outdoors. Brisbane lets you have it all.
Brynne is a proud TEAN alum! She studied abroad in Thailand and now is part of TEAN’s Team Australia and Team Thailand. Some of the highlights from her time visiting Australia include strolling through the farmers market in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and seeing the spectacular light displays at Vivid Sydney. As a coffee lover, she also appreciates that Australia truly knows how to make a mean cup of joe. Brynne is passionate about the value of study abroad and is excited to be a part of your journey. She also works with Kate McSurley in the Sustainability & Assessment role to educate students about the environmental and cultural impact of studying abroad. IG: @bcshann
Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with TEAN. I wanted to go as far away as I could and experience something totally different than what I had grown up with. I had always been drawn to Asia, and after some research I decided that Thailand was the perfect place for me. I also lived in Lampang, Thailand upon graduating and I’ve traveled to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.
What inspired you to teach abroad?
I came back from my semester abroad feeling like my time in Thailand wasn’t finished. I knew I wanted to go back to Thailand after I graduated and the more I spoke to people who had taught English abroad the more I knew it was a good fit for me. I wanted to challenge myself and have an even more culturally immersive experience the second go around, and I also wanted to give something back to a country I fell in love with while studying abroad since it had given so much to me.
What makes Thailand a great place to study abroad?
Thailand is great because it forces students to step out of their comfort zone and learn more about the world and themselves as individuals. Not only are you experiencing a new culture, but you’re learning a new language, alphabet, cuisine, social norms, interactions, ways of life, etc. It seriously puts things into perspective. Thai people are some of the kindest and welcoming people you will ever meet – hands down. They make the experience so special and you can learn so much from them. Living in Thailand teaches you to slow down and enjoy what’s happening in the now and be thankful for what you have and who’s around you.
What should be on every student’s bucket list for a study abroad semester in Thailand?
A hike up to Wat Palad. This temple is on the way to the more famous Wat Doi Suthep, which sits on top of a mountain, but Wat Palad is tucked away in the forest surrounded by trees and a rushing waterfall during the rainy season. Students can hike up to the temple from their housing or hire a songteow to take them up the mountain. It is one of my favorite places in the world because of how quiet and serene it is. To me, it captures the essence of what Buddhism is all about. You can sit on the rocks and dip your toes in the waterfall while looking out at the spectacular view of the city that peeks out between the trees.
What is your favorite travel quote?
It’s not necessarily a travel quote, but one of my favorite Thai expressions I learned was “mai long, mai rue” which means “If you never try, you never know”. It inspired me to just say yes to everything and go for things even if I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
Helen has been working in the field of International Education for more than 20 years. During her undergraduate degree at Griffith University, she started working in their international office on a part time basis. This became full time after she graduated with a Bachelors in Communications in 1998. Helen worked with study abroad; exchange; full degree and ELICOS students during this time. Following her role at Griffith she lived in London, England for several years. After returning back to Australia she then worked in the International and Study Abroad teams at Bond University and was responsible for marketing and developing the study abroad and full degree programs in North America and Europe. This role saw Helen travel extensively throughout these regions for many years. Helen has been the TEAN Queensland Resident Director since 2010 and is also the Program Manager for Full Degree applicants in Australia and New Zealand.
What is your role at TEAN?
I am the Resident Director for Queensland and responsible for working with our in-country study abroad students in our schools across this state. My role is to ensure that all students are supported and mentored and experience cultural events relevant to their location. I am the study abroad “mom” to all of my groups and try to ensure they stay focused on their schooling and experience all that their location has to offer. I like to get them to see the value of their study abroad semester and how it will benefit them in the future. I am also the Full Degree Program Manager for TEAN. In this role I work with students who are interested in taking their entire degree program in Australia or New Zealand.
How did you come to this current role?
I have been working in International Education since 1995. I have been involved in the study abroad and international offices at both Griffith University and Bond University on the Gold Coast. While at Bond University I managed the study abroad program for North America and was responsible for building partnerships with programs and U.S. schools. I have travelled extensively through North America and have visited many of our partner schools. I started working with TEAN as the Queensland Resident Director in 2010.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Seeing students grow and become more independent during their semester. Watching students learn to problem solve issues and gain confidence to make decisions on their own. I enjoy getting to know the groups and each group are varied and unique. I like seeing them develop lifelong friendships amongst the groups and enjoy watching them have fun at the various cultural events I arrange. I have met some amazing students over the years, who I am still in touch with today.
How do you work with students who are interested in pursuing their full degree abroad?
I am their go to person from start to finish. I help them narrow down their university choices, submit applications and answer any questions they may have through the process.When offers come in, I then assist them to accept the best option for them and talk them through next steps. This includes who to contact about U.S loans and aid, how to apply for their visa and enrolment. Being in the same time zone as the schools here and it makes it easy for me to follow up. I also have lots of contacts that i can reach out to directly, so it saves them time and stress.
What are some top reasons a student should consider a full degree in Australia or New Zealand?
You will be pursuing a quality education at some of the world’s top ranked universities while enjoying a personalized education. Australia and New Zealand are desirable places to live and attract high quality professors from all over the world. You will also graduate with a competitive advantage – most people don’t study overseas and having an international qualification and living in another country puts you ahead of your peers who stay in the U.S. You will also have gained a new network of international contacts.
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.
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.