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!

Program Managers

Brynne Shannon

Program Manager

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

Q&A

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.

Australia Staff

Abigail Cousins

Resident Assistant - Townsville

Abigail was born in the U.K. and has lived in Australia since she was seven years old. She moved to Townsville in 2016 to study, and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Social Work at James Cook University. Abigail is very passionate about helping others settling into living in Townsville. She also loves to travel and explore new places, as well as to show others the amazing experiences and scenery that North Queensland has to offer.

Q&A

Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN.
My role at TEAN is to provide support for the students studying abroad at James Cook University (JCU). I’m a good source of information as I have lived in Townsville and attended JCU for years, so I know the area well! I attend cultural events with TEAN students and assist them however I can throughout their semester in Townsville.

What is your favorite spot in Townsville?
My favorite spot in Townsville is the Strand! There are several great places to have coffee, some delicious food or ice cream. It is also a lovely walk with a stunning view of the ocean and Magnetic Island.

What makes Townsville a great place to live and study?
Firstly, Townsville is full of very friendly and laid-back people, which will make settling in really quick and smooth. Secondly, both the students and lecturers are all very passionate and dedicated to making JCU the best it can be! Thirdly, there are some amazing places to visit around the region on your weekends. (And the weather is also incredible all throughout the year!)

If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I would go to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Many people I know have visited Ho Chi Minh City before and rave about its culture, history and friendly people. I think the opportunity to immerse myself in Vietnamese culture would be incredible!

What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?
I love going to the gym, going for walks along the Strand or hiking Castle Hill, going for brunch or coffee on the weekends, and exploring new places around Townsville.

Helen Armitage

Full Degree Program Manager

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.

Q&A

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.

Photo of TEAN Staff Dharma Bendersky

Dharma Bendersky

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.

Q&A

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.