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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

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J.R. Nolasco, manager of the Hutton International Experiences Program, visited Australian National University to learn about study abroad opportunities for HHC students

Although Australian National University (ANU), which is President Michael McRobbie's alma mater, is one of the top-ranked universities in the world, few IU students study abroad there-but that's something ANU hopes to change.

"They like our students, and they're seeking out honors and honors-level students," said J.R. Nolasco, who administers the Hutton International Experiences Program (HIEP).

From several days last October, Nolasco visited ANU in the country's capital city of Canberra and went on "a whirlwind tour of all that area has to offer." ANU had invited representatives from a few American universities to visit and learn about their programs.

While ANU and IU currently have an exchange agreement, Nolasco said, ANU plans to roll out a new, improved series of programs in 2014. "They're going for a more study-abroad type approach so there's no limit to the number of students who can participate," Nolasco explained.

Many students who want to participate in English-speaking programs apply to programs in Denmark or the United Kingdom, Nolasco said, but Australia seems to be chosen less often and can provide a unique experience.

ANU has excellent programs, from linguistics to philosophy to history. Nolasco highlighted a few, noting that ANU is home to Mount Stromlo Observatory, where some Nobel laureates work.

"Any student interested in physics or astronomy should definitely go down there," Nolasco said.

It's also one of the few places in the world where students can study aboriginal history and Torres Strait Islanders' history, which makes it a prime location for those pursuing anthropology.

In addition, Canberra is the seat of the Federal Government and thus home to the Parliament House and the High Court, providing significant first-hand experience for political science students. "Imagine a less-populated Washington, D.C.," Nolasco said about the city.

Canberra might also appeal to students deciding on a study abroad program because it's "very safe, has a very high standard of living, and gorgeous scenery," Nolasco said.

Students would, of course, experience a few differences at ANU.

"IU has very traditional architecture, whereas the Canberra campus has very modern buildings," Nolasco noted.

Most local students live off-campus, but international students-who make up about 40 percent of enrollment, Nolasco said-live in the dorms.

As to classes, discussions are emphasized more than lectures. Students have fewer assignments, but that makes doing well on all more vital to their grades, and the final exam period is a month long.

The city itself is home to many national and cultural landmarks, including the Namadgi National Park, the Australian War Memorial, and the National Gallery of Australia, among many others.

Students studying there might also enjoy touring the winemaking facilities nearby. "Winemaking there is really big and has become a full-fledged economy over past 10 years," Nolasco said.

Students may be disappointed by the bacon, Nolasco said, which is more Canadian-style versus crispy, but the kangaroo is reportedly excellent.

While living is a little pricey in Australia, Nolasco doesn't think this should deter students from studying there. Although application to the program itself is through the Office of Overseas Study, IUB students who meet grade-point average requirements can apply for a grant through the Hutton International Experiences Program.

"You're really with some world-class scholars at ANU," Nolasco said.

A few interesting facts about Australia:

  • Kangaroo in Australia are as plentiful as deer are here in the USA, and consequently, so is the roadkill.
  • The seal of Australia features a kangaroo and an emu, two animals that can't walk backwards-so it's symbolic of moving forward, Nolasco noted.
  • The most popular band to emerge from Australia is a children's music quartet called "The Wiggles."
  • Rum was used as the first currency in colonial Australia .
  • The male platypus is poisonous.
  • Wombat poop is cube-shaped.
  • Melbourne has the largest Greek population in the world besides Athens.

Celia Grundman '14

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