A whole new world
St. Edmond grad takes in wonders of Australia
IOWA CITY — For many, the three-hour trek from Fort Dodge to the University of Iowa is far enough to gain a new perspective on life.
Not for Iris Peimann.
Peimann, a 2017 St. Edmond graduate, recently spent a semester studying abroad through The Education Abroad Network in Australia.
“It was something that I always knew that I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure where,” Peimann said. “I knew that I wanted the experience of living somewhere else and experiencing a different culture, and sort of just having to figure it all out on my own.
“I also just really love to travel, and I knew it would be a great opportunity to do that before I had more serious commitments in life.”
With the world at her fingertips, Peimann decided on Australia for a number of reasons, including educational ones.
“I ultimately decided on Australia because of the amazing amount of things there are to do outdoors there,” she said. “And because the schools in Australia have great programs for both sustainability and psychology — which is my actual major.”
Founded in 1995 by Sean Lennon and Chris Shepherd, The Education Abroad Network offers programs in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.
Australia, though, provided Peimann with some memorable moments during her stay.
“I had a lot of incredible and life-changing experiences,” she said. “One interesting experience was just getting used to the vernacular used there. They talk really fast and use a lot of slang words and phrases that I had to get used to such as ‘arvo’ for afternoon, ‘esky’ for cooler, ‘good on ya’ for nice or good job, ‘mozzie’ for mosquito and many more. Another very interesting experience was learning how to automatically walk on the left side and then eventually learning to drive on the left.
“Along with that, learning how they grade classes at their universities was pretty interesting because they use a grading scale completely different than the U.S., and I even had to work on spelling some words differently.”
Through the abroad network, Peimann earned school credit for the second semester of her sophomore year at Iowa. She studied at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, which is a public research university.
Not only was Peimann able to use the classes toward getting her Sustainability Certificate from Iowa, it allowed her to study at the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, home to “a lot of professors that are very well versed and up-to-date on their sustainability information, and they are all very passionate about it, which is something I share with them.”
When she wasn’t studying, Peimann explored the country from all different sides with “unforgettable, life-long friends” she made.
“I was fortunate enough to get to visit most of the major Australian icons,” she said. “I got to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, hike through a lot of their wonderful rainforests, see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and even made it out to Uluru in the Outback (or Northern Territory) where I camped under the stars for a few nights.
“I also got to experience a lot right where I lived on the Gold Coast. I got to go to an Australian Football League game. AFL is basically like a combination of rugby, soccer and football. I was also lucky to have a city that had a beautiful beach, tons of cool cafes and rainforest right behind it. I also got to see tons of — and even pet some of — Australia’s cool critters, such as koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, echidnas, dingos, camels, cassowaries, crocodiles and tons of big spiders.”
For Peimann, it was an adventure she not only will never forget, but plans to experience again as soon as possible.
“I think that all of the encounters I had in Australia really made me grow as a person,” she said. “Everyone tells you that studying abroad will change your life and who you are as a person, and I can definitely attest to that. I’ve found that since I returned I’ve changed for the better in a lot of ways. I loved Australia, the time I had there, the people I met there and basically everything about it. I am ready to plan my next trip there.”