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Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

Friday, September 15th, 2017

A new student’s guide to activities in Sydney, Australia

Calling all University of Sydney and Macquarie University  students—no wait—all of you who are heading to Australia to study!

A new student’s guide to activities in Sydney, Australia

OzTREKK Eastern Territory Manager John Graham

Getting into the pre-departure phase of your “Study in Australia” journey can be slightly overwhelming: accepting your offer, getting a visa, booking your flight, finding accommodation—all of these things are currently at the forefront of your mind.

What comes next? Well, usually it’s concern about finding your way around campus, getting settled in classes, and making new friends. But OzTREKK’s John Graham reminds us that there is a lot more to “study in Australia” than just studying.

While this blog is targeted to everyone headed to Sydney, New South Wales, it’s also for anyone keen to take advantage of their school breaks, and we’ve had many OzTREKK students write to us about their Australian travel adventures! Here, John outlines a few of his favourite places in Sydney that you should check out:

Beach: Palm Beach

Palm Beach—a no-brainer

Palm Beach is located one hour north of Sydney and used at the set for the hit Australian TV series Home and Away. The beach is located on a long peninsula with a beautiful hike to Barrenjoey Lighthouse at the northern tip, the South Pacific Ocean to the east, and a small harbour know as Pittwater to the west.

Park: Pool in Prince Alfred Park

Prince Alfred Park and its massive pool

Prince Alfred Park is an amazing community space in the heart of Sydney. Its location is easily accessible as it is a 10-minute walk from Central Station. The park is home to basketball and tennis courts, an open-air workout area and lots of green space; however, the most important feature is the public pool to help you stay cool during the hot Sydney summers.

Food: Spice Alley – Kensington Street

Spice Alley on Kensington—yum!

Spice Alley is a unique open-air dining experience comprising six “hawker style” eateries that weave though a back alley and host tables beneath Asian lanterns. The prices in Spice Alley are very reasonable and this neat location is within walking distance of the University of Sydney campus and Central Station.

Bar: Soda Factory

Soda Factory

Soda Factory is one of the most famous speakeasy bars in Sydney. That being said, those interested have to be sure to keep their eyes peeled. The bar is hidden behind a Coca-Cola machine in an American-style hot dog joint. But on the other side you find a busy bar with a bare-bones industrial style and a happenin’ dance floor.

Entertainment: Sydney Football Club “football” match (soccer)

Sydney FC is a professional soccer team that plays in the top division in Australia. Their stadium holds more than 45,000 spectators and is located a short distance from the CBD in Moore Park. Some of the most exciting nights at Allianz Stadium are when they are playing their arch rivals, the Western Sydney Wanderers. Fans who want a true experience should also be sure to stop by one of the local pubs to have a beer with local Aussie fans before the game.

At a Sydney FC match at Allianz Stadium


Think you might like to study in Australia? Do you have a program or an Australian university in mind? Contact us info@oztrekk.com for more information!

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Sydney Law School holds Global Health and the Law conference

The pitfalls of Australia’s boom in medical tourism, the ongoing struggle to deliver HIV prevention and treatment, the lax regulation of alcohol advertising and the complexities of managing tuberculosis are among the ethically and legally challenging that were discussed at Sydney Law School‘s Global Health and the Law conference held Sept. 30 – Oct. 1.

University of Sydney Law School

Sydney Law School building

The conference brought together legal and medical experts from around the nation to discuss health issues that transcend borders and impact on our well-being.

Highlights included Sydney Law School PhD candidate Louise Cauchi, who offered a snapshot of the health risks presented by the medical tourism industry. An estimated 15,000 Australians spend about $300 million a year on cosmetic procedures performed abroad but these operations—particularly breast surgery—increasingly require remediation when patients return home.

Bridget Haire from the University of Sydney‘s Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) chaired a panel on the ongoing struggle to deliver HIV prevention and treatment where the human rights of people most at risk of HIV are increasingly threatened, not only by violence, but by the criminalization of homosexuality and sex work.

The need to tighten and enforce regulations around alcohol advertising, especially the marketing of alcohol to young drinkers, was addressed in a session chaired by Professor Roger Magnusson from Sydney Law School. “Commitments to restrict the marketing of alcohol to younger drinkers are voluntary on the part the alcohol industry, which is less than committed to minimizing the harm caused by alcohol consumption,” he said.

The risks and challenges of managing tuberculosis was the topic for a hypothetical to be moderated by the Director of VELiM, Associate Professor Ian Kerridge. In particular, multi-drug resistant TB raises a number of ethical and legal questions including how to protect the rights and autonomy of individual patients while protecting the wider community from the disease.

Gene patenting, surrogacy and cross border reproduction, and the global regulation of therapeutics will also be discussed at Global Health and the Law: Incorporating Theory into Practice.


Questions about studying law at the University of Sydney? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Law Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston for more information about applying to Sydney’s JD program. You can email Shannon at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Find out more about Australian Law Schools in Australia!

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

University of Sydney academics land research grant to study medicines

Researchers from the University of Sydney Pharmacy School and the Sydney Medical School have landed a major research grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to set up a new evidence-gathering research venture that will generate vital information about the role that medicines play over Australians’ lifetimes.

University of Sydney Pharmacy School

Learn more about Sydney Pharmacy School

The NHMRC awarded five years of funding for the new Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Health Services Research focusing on Medicines and Ageing, which is spearheaded by a cross-institutional collaborative team of academics, including Professor Andrew McLachlan and Associate Professor Sallie-Anne Pearson from the Sydney Pharmacy School, Professor David Le Couteur and Dr Timothy Dobbins from the Sydney Medical School.

Using large linked datasets of routinely collected medicines and other health information, the CRE in Medicines and Ageing will produce essential evidence about real world use of medicines over the course of a person’s lifetime.

The evidence from the CRE will also influence national pharmaceutical policy decisions and health professionals making important treatment decisions with their patients. Professor McLachlan, who jointly leads the CRE Medicines and Ageing said the funding would generate quantitative evidence on the real-world use, harms, costs and cost-effectiveness of specific medicines in relation to ageing.

“This information is critical to understanding the balance of benefits and harms of medicines used across the adult lifespan,” Professor McLachlan said.

The researchers will work closely with agencies in health and medicines policy formulation, evaluation and decision-making.

Sydney Pharmacy School Associate Professor Sallie Pearson said the benefits would be far ranging, on a national scale: “A key element of the CRE is the training and development of researchers in the use and evaluation of medicines data,” adding that it will help to build a national workforce and research methods in pharmacoepidemiology to inform and evaluate health policy.

The Centre of Excellence is a national and international collaboration between researchers at the University of Sydney, Australian National University, The Sax Institute, University of Western Australia, University of NSW, University of Technology Sydney, and the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences in Canada.

Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Professor Iqbal Ramzan believes the Centre will be a successful model of research collaboration in healthcare, and one that will directly benefit the Australian population.

“We place a high value on collaborative research endeavours, as they enrich the work carried out within our faculty and universities more generally, and have the potential to lead to wide-ranging benefits for fellow Australians—which is especially critical in healthcare research,” said Professor Ramzan.

The Sydney Pharmacy School dean added that the faculty identifies health services and patient safety as an area of research expertise and this Centre is a major boost for their work in this field.

Learn more about Sydney Pharmacy School and Sydney Medical School.

For more information about studying at the University of Sydney, contact OzTREKK! Call 1-866-698-7355 or email info@oztrekk.com.


Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Sydney Law School professor focuses on ability not disability

Sydney Law School‘s Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum has been teaching law for more than 41 years. One of the most important lessons he taught had nothing to do with legal textbooks.

University of Sydney Law School

Learn more about Sydney Law School

“After a year in class, my students never think of a person with a disability in the same way again. When you get to know people you no longer think of them as being different,” says Professor McCallum, the first totally blind person to be appointed the dean of a law school in Australia.

His students have gone on to be become prominent judges, politicians and lawyers. One of his former students, federal minister Bill Shorten, has become a champion for the rights of people with disabilities, helping to lay the foundations of the National Disability Insurance Scheme when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities between 2007 and 2011.

It’s a theme that Professor McCallum has seen throughout his career. People who know someone with a disability are more likely to be attuned to the issues they confront. They are also more likely to believe in the abilities of people with a disability.

Professor McCallum recalls being surprised by the openness of the University of Sydney to his disability when he was interviewed for the first full professorship in labour law at an Australian university.

“I had told the university I would need assistive technology to do my work and they were more than accommodating,” he remembers.

He later spoke to the head of the selection panel, former deputy vice-chancellor Dr Sue Dorsch, who told him how her own husband had fallen off a horse on their hobby farm and become a paraplegic. He was a GP before the accident, after the accident he went back to medical school and became an anesthetist.

“With some of my colleagues who had never met someone with a disability, it took some time for them to get to know me. But when they did I think they realized, we persons with disabilities, most of us are pretty ordinary people.”

Professor McCallum was dean of the Sydney Law School from 2002 to 2007.

“As dean, I tried to be welcoming of people from different backgrounds, people with disabilities and men and women from a range of backgrounds,” he says, adding that he is  particularly proud of the new law building. “I wanted to make it accessible for people with a disability, and it has hearing loops, braille signage and accessible facilities.”

The former Sydney Law School dean stated, “As a public body we should ensure our staff and students mirror the community. It would be a strange university if we didn’t employ any women and we’ve done our best to employ more women.”

Professor McCallum delivered the keynote address at the launch of the university’s third Disability Action Plan on Aug. 16.

“Policies like the Disability Action Plan are powerful statements that make staff aware of an organization’s view. It is a reminder to staff and students that we are inclusive institution.”

About Sydney Law School

Sydney Law School is Australia’s first. Since its inception, it has been at the forefront of developments associated with both the teaching and research of law. Its strong sense of commitment to the fundamentals of law is combined with a commitment to innovation and the exploration of issues at the cutting edge.

The University of Sydney’s JD is the university’s graduate-entry law degree. It provides a world-class legal education that prepares students for the global and international environment in which they will provide legal advice.

To be eligible to apply to the Sydney Law School JD, you must have the following:

  • Completed an undergraduate degree;
  • Achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average (cGPA) of at least 3.0/4.0

Apply now to  the University of Sydney Law School JD Program!


Questions about studying law at the University of Sydney? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Law Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston for more information about applying to Sydney’s JD program. You can email Shannon at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

University of Sydney Veterinary School professor talks about the role of the horse whip in racing

It’s been a bone of contention for many, many years: should whipping be permitted in horse racing? Many animal welfare activists claim it is cruel and unnecessary. The British Racing Authority states “The whip should be used for safety, correction and encouragement only.” For many jockeys, trainers, and racing officials, there is a great distinction between “use” and “abuse” of the whip jockeys carry. Who hasn’t seen the close-up images of jockeys and horses dueling for position on the home stretch at Churchill Downs? Whips are flashed beside the horses’ faces and brought sharply against their hindquarters. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Sydney Veterinary School

Learn more about Sydney Veterinary School

Veterinarian and University of Sydney Professor Paul McGreevy’s talk on the use of the whip in horse racing caused a stir in the horse racing world.

The Sydney Veterinary School professor’s talk traced the history of animal welfare in his address at the University of Sydney, particularly in relation to horses. His major focus pinpoints the use of the whip in horse racing to make “tired horses run faster.”

While the University of Sydney Veterinary School professor praised the agility and skill of the jockeys and the magnificence of the racing thoroughbred, it is his belief that horses can still perform brilliantly—and win—without being whipped. Check out Prof. McGreevy’s full talk here.

About Prof Paul McGreevy

RCVS Recognized Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine with the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, and his research focuses on equitation science, epidemiological studies, ethopathies in companion and exotic species, and learning theory as applied to animal training and behaviour modification. Prof McGreevy also studies urban animal management and the use of IT in teaching.

At the University of Sydney Veterinary School, he lectures in Animal Husbandry to first year BVSc students, and Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science to third year BVSc and Animal & Veterinary Bioscience students.

The Sydney Veterinary School professor also co-wrote Carrots and Sticks: Principles of Animal Training, a book that brings behavioural science to life, explaining animal training techniques in the language of learning theory.

About the Sydney Veterinary School’s  Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetBiol/DVM) program

Program title: Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetBiol/DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 6 years
Application deadline: TBC

Apply to Sydney Veterinary School!

Find out more about the the University of Sydney‘s new veterinary science program. Check out our blog “New Sydney Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program for 2015.”


Learn more about the Sydney Veterinary School and about Australian Veterinary Schools.

Do you have questions about Sydney Veterinary School and about studying veterinary programs at Australian universities? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Rachel Brady by emailing rachel@oztrekk.com or by calling 1 866-698-7355 (toll free in Canada).


Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Sydney Medical School releases offers

OzTREKK is proud to announce that the offers for the Sydney Medical School‘s 2014 intake were released last Tuesday, Aug. 6!

Why are we so proud?

Sydney Medical School

Find out more about Sydney Medical School

Because 37 OzTREKK students were delighted with the news that they received an offer to the University of Sydney’s medical program!

Undertaken once students have already completed an undergraduate degree, the medical program at the Sydney Medical School is a world-class, graduate-entry degree in medicine.

The four-year medical program includes weekly clinical experience in leading hospitals from the very first weeks, regular PBL (problem-based learning) exercises in small groups, traditional lectures with expert practitioners, and ongoing opportunities to participate in research.

Congratulations, OzTREKKers! Your amazing journey is just beginning! Matt is looking forward to meeting you in Australia this January to welcome you to Australia with our OzTREKK Orientation events!

Find out more about Australian Medical Schools and about how you can study in Australia!


If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Broghan Dean. Email Broghan at broghan@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.


Monday, August 12th, 2013

Sydney Veterinary School finds new species of fungus

A new species of fungus that causes life-threatening infections in humans and cats has been discovered by a University of Sydney researcher.

“This all originated from spotting an unusual fungal infection in three cats I was seeing at the university’s cat treatment centre in 2006,” said Dr Vanessa Barrs,  a Senior Lecturer from the Sydney Veterinary School, whose findings have just been published in PLOS One (Public Library of Science, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication).

Sydney Veterinary School

Learn more about Sydney Veterinary School

“These cats presented with a tumour-like growth in one of their eye sockets, that had spread there from the nasal cavity. The fungal spores are inhaled and in susceptible cats they establish a life-threatening infection that is very difficult to treat.”

Six years of investigation followed, including working with some of the world’s leading fungal experts at the CBS-KNAW fungal biodiversity centre in The Netherlands.

“Finally I was able to confirm this as a completely new species, Aspergillus felis, which can cause virulent disease in humans and cats by infecting their respiratory tract. We were able to demonstrate that this was a new species of fungus on a molecular and reproductive level and in terms of its form. This new species of fungus can reproduce both asexually and sexually—and we discovered both phases of the fungus.”

Since the first sighting of the new species, more than 20 sick domestic cats from around Australia and one cat from the United Kingdom have been diagnosed with the fungus.

The fungus appears to infect otherwise healthy cats but in the two humans identified it attacked an already highly compromised immune system.

The disease is not passed between humans and cats but its study in cats will not only help their treatment but provide a good model for the study of the disease in people. There is only a 15 per cent survival rate of cats with the disease and it has so far proved fatal in humans. To date only one case has been identified in a dog.

“We are right at the start of recognizing the diseases caused by this fungus in animals and humans. The number of cases may be increasing in frequency or it may just be we are getting better at recognizing them,” the Sydney Veterinary School Senior Lecturer stated.

“Fungi like Aspergillus felis can be easily misidentified as the closely related fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, which is a well-studied cause of disease in humans. However, A. felis is intrinsically more resistant to antifungal drugs than A. fumigatus and this has important implications for therapy and prognosis.”

The next step for Dr Barrs and her Sydney Veterinary School team is studying fungi in culture collections throughout Australia to determine the prevalence of A. felis infections in people with previously diagnosed aspergillosis. They will collaborate with researchers at the Westmead Millenium Institute for Medical Research.


Are you interested in studying veterinary medicine at the Sydney Veterinary School? Find out more about the University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science‘s new combined degree program, the Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetBiol/DVM) for the 2014 intake, and the proposed 4-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program for the 2015 intake.

If you’d like more information about Australian Veterinary Schools, and would like veterinary school updates emailed to you, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or by calling toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Sydney Veterinary School to study horse racing legend

A new chapter in the story of Phar Lap is about to be added by the University of Sydney as it leads an attempt to sequence the famous horse’s DNA. In case you weren’t around for the 1983 film Phar Lap, which depicts the inspirational yet heartbreaking story of the horse’s life, the thoroughbred was a horse racing legend in Australia during the late 1920s and early 1930s. After an extremely successful racing career, and a trip to the United States (where a murder attempt took place!), Phar Lap died of what was reported as “ingestion of a massive dose of arsenic.” Although the arsenic poisoning claims have been challenged repeatedly, one thing remains clear: Phar Lap was “Australia’s Wonder Horse.”

“Phar Lap’s heart is in Canberra, his hide is in Melbourne, and his skeleton in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Now the museum has agreed to a sixty-milligram piece of tooth from that skeleton coming to Sydney so we can unravel his genetic history,” said Dr Natasha Hamilton, the team leader from the University of Sydney Veterinary School. Professor Claire Wade, also from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, will be in charge of the genetic analysis.

The DNA extraction will be performed at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), at the University of Adelaide, before being analyzed at the University of Sydney.

“We are doing this out of scientific curiosity and all our data will be made publicly available. The DNA sequence will tell us if Phar Lap’s genetic make-up looks like star racehorses of today, including whether he is a sprinter or a stayer (genetically better suited to running long distances),” Dr Hamilton said.

“We believe that no other southern hemisphere racehorses have had their whole genome sequenced before. By contrast, in Europe this research is quite popular and DNA analysis has been performed on notable horses such as Eclipse, racing’s first superstar and an ancestor of 95 percent of today’s thoroughbreds, and Hyperion, a popular sire from the 1930-1950s who is found in numerous pedigrees.”

The information will be used in current Faculty of Veterinary Science research such as international studies to understand the basis of genetic diversity in different breeds of horses, the structure of the thoroughbred breed and the genetics underlying the physiology of exercise across all horse species.

The skeleton was treated by being boiled in a corrosive solution which will have fragmented the DNA.

“There is a possibility that we will not be able to get much usable DNA, as they were obviously not thinking about the possibility of future DNA extraction when they prepared Phar Lap’s skeleton in the 1930s,” said Professor Alan Cooper, ACAD director.

Professor Claire Wade said that despite this limitation current whole genome sequencing methods can work with small pieces of DNA, so the researchers are hopeful they will be able to generate usable information.

The fragmentation of the DNA also means it would not be usable in other projects that require large amounts of good quality DNA such as cloning.

“So, sorry punters, there is no hope of Phar Lap II running around a few years from now,” Dr Hamilton said.

This is not Phar Lap’s first association with the University of Sydney. The horse was named by Aubrey Ping, a medical student at the Sydney Medical School in the 1920s. The name Phar Lap derives from the common Zhuang and Thai word for lightning—literally, “sky flash.”


Curious about studying veterinary science at the Sydney Veterinary School?

If you’d like more information about Sydney Veterinary School, and would like veterinary school updates emailed to you, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or by calling toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.


Thursday, June 27th, 2013

University of Sydney Medical School application deadline is one week away

Only one more week, OzTREKKers! If you’ve already applied to Sydney Medical School, please be sure to have all of your remaining application documents sent to the OzTREKK office before Friday, July 5, in order for your complete medical school application to be submitted on time.

Sydney Medical School Application Timeline

Application deadline for the 2014 intake: July 7, 2013 (Please note: All Sydney MBBS application documents must be received at the OzTREKK office by Friday, July 5.)
Last test date of MCAT for 2014 entry: May 30, 2013
Interview invitations: July 19 – 22, 2013
Interviews held: July 29 – Aug. 2, 2013
Offers will begin to be sent: August 12, 2013
Second round of interview offers: Sept. 13 – 16, 2013
Second round of interviews held: Sept. 23 – 25, 2013
Offers for second round: Sept. 30, 2013


If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Broghan Dean. Email Broghan at broghan@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

Find out more about Australian Medical Schools and about how you can study in Australia!

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 3

Continuing her tour of the world, future University of Sydney Master of International Public Health student Jennifer Avery takes time out to discuss the public health issues that affect Central and South America. If you’ve missed our two previous blogs about Jennifer’s travels, please check out OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 1 and Part 2.

And if you’d like to see bigger photos, just click on them!

What was your favourite location in South America and why?

Sunny day in the plaza in Quito

Sunny day in the plaza in Quito, Colombia

This is a tough one. I have to at least state our top three, which are Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Chile was our number one for many reasons. It is developed and modern yet it also has more rugged and desolate areas like the Atacama Desert and Patagonia. We loved how we could visit lush forests, shop in trendy boutique stores, bike through the world’s driest desert, and camp out beneath snow-capped mountains. I am not sure if there are many countries as geologically diverse as Chile, and with such warm people!

Your least favourite? Why?
There wasn’t a single country where we were not enjoying ourselves the entire time, but one that stands out as a not-so-pleasant experience is Bolivia. Some comical but serious advice from people prior to going there was to “eat nothing” there to avoid getting sick. Well, this was the only place on the trip that one of us was unwell—Ted had some gastrointestinal illness for about two weeks, so that put a damper on things!

“Spending so much time in South America helped me begin to witness and understand people’s day-to-day lives in so many different areas.”

Bolivia was admittedly less comfortable than other places we’d been, including Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. It was not uncommon for us to see people blatantly defecating or urinating in the streets (watch where you step!) and there was garbage everywhere. There were also a couple incidents where we were sure we were going to be robbed (not uncommon), but thankfully we dodged it in different ways.

The famous South American celebration, Carnaval, was going on while we were in La Paz, Bolivia. In many places throughout the continent this is a big celebration, but in La Paz it meant a parade one day followed by the entire city shutting down for about five days. And when I say the entire city—I mean pharmacies, tiny street stalls, restaurants—everything. It was an absolute ghost town. We had already spent more time than we wanted in La Paz, but each day we went to the bus station it was either completely empty or it was filled with employees drinking in the bus ticket sale booths (but refusing to sell any actual tickets since all the drivers were home drinking!). All that being said, Bolivia still had one of the highlights of our trip—the Uyuni salt flats. After being stuck in La Paz for days on end it was a refreshing surprise to our trip.

Carnaval in Bolivia

Carnaval dancers in Bolivia

Which was the poorest location, and what issues (health, poverty, etc.) did you notice?

Bolivia was the least developed place we visited and it begrudgingly holds the title of the poorest country in South America. This is evident by things like the number of people using the streets as a public bathroom (perhaps because most toilets you must pay for), and also the number of young children working in stores and restaurants instead of being in school. One of the sad things I remember seeing is people living in their shops—the mattresses they slept on were inside their tiny stores, their living space no bigger than 6 by 7 feet. Lack of clean drinking water is a definite issue there, and the cheapest thing to eat is always candy and junk food. Dental problems are rampant there, too, which is evident by toothless smiles, blackened teeth and for the few who could afford it, metallic veneers. I am sure there are astronomically high rates of diabetes and heart disease, but due to the poverty, I’m sure it’s hugely underdiagnosed.

Valley of the Moon

Optical illusion in the Valley of the Moon, Chile (salt flats)

How did your experiences in South America reflect your interest in public health/nursing and what did you learn?

I have always been interested in South and Central America culture and people. Parts of it are rugged and so worn down but people’s spirits are incredibly bright despite their adversities. I really want to work in places like that, which is why we spent so much time exploring the culture there. If you have any interest in public health in developing countries, I think it’s valuable to immerse yourself in it to understand it better before trying to generate solutions that may not realistically work or be well received by locals.

“…you realize how global public health efforts need to be creative, realistic and address issues at different levels.”

Spending so much time in South America helped me begin to witness and understand people’s day-to-day lives in so many different areas, all with varying socioeconomic levels. I learned a lot about how and why people make the decisions they do—especially with unhealthy food options that are definitely detrimental to one’s health. We saw firsthand how healthy greens and produce were hard to buy, but once found were always wilting, fly-ridden, and really overpriced. But shiny, colourful junk food was everywhere and unbelievably cheap! Being on a backpacking budget, we totally fell victim to this and could really understand why people make the choices they make. I gained 10 lbs just in the first month being there (I can’t imagine how I’d look if we stayed longer!).

Jennifer performing a glucometer check

Streets of South America

The day I finally found whole wheat bread, a whole two months into our trip, I squealed in excitement. There’s seemingly no encouragement to eat wisely and little affordable options to do so. It definitely sparked my interest as to how to target these kinds of problems, which are much more complicated than simply teaching someone how and what healthy foods are. The reality is the options aren’t there, but we can help work toward making them exist with different strategies. The whole experience—especially my own frustration in a lack of healthy options or clean drinking water—it all really made me interested in helping improve the situation for people.

Why do you think your travel experience is going to help you in your career in public health?

Galapagos Islands

Jen and Ted explore the Galapagos Islands

Visiting so many different countries, each with differences in culture and poverty level really showed me how we need different approaches to helping improve health in different places. No two countries are the same: even if the language and customs seem similar, there are always subtle but important differences that affect how and why people make choices that can affect their health, perception of wellness, and how they treat ailments. We experienced firsthand the lack of things like clean drinking water, toilets, soap, and nutritional food options. It just really makes you realize that in many third-world countries, health is not a conscious decision. That is something we take for granted in developed places. It really helped me see how health is a very complicated system. You can educate people all you want about making healthy food choices, but once you see firsthand that those choices are nonexistent, or truly unaffordable, you realize how global public health efforts need to be creative, realistic and address issues at different levels.

Machu Picchu

Jen and Ted atop Machu Picchu

In our travels and talking with locals, we learned about many places that have corrupt governments, which prevent money from trickling down to clinics, pharmacies, and communities. It’s something we know exists in the world, but seeing it in person made it more real, and it couldn’t be ignored. (Let’s face it: we often all turn a blind eye to many global issues.) Repeatedly, we saw huge divides in socioeconomic classes; you could drive by barren wooden shacks falling apart and then just 10 minutes up the road be whizzing past elaborate mansions. Our experiences will help me as I continue to understand the complexity of health in developing countries. It’s certainly not something I will oversimplify. There are so many components to addressing global health issues, and that is something I want to always remember in my studies and career in public health.

Jennifer performing a glucometer check

Jennifer performing a glucometer check

Tell us a bit about your medical experiences in Nicaragua.

Last year, I volunteered as a nurse for two weeks in Nicaragua with a medical volunteer trip with an organization called Friends of the Orphans Canada (FOTOCAN). Our work involved providing medical check-ups, vaccinations and health teaching to children at the orphanage. With the support and donations of hospitals and clinics, we were able to bring in lots of equipment, medications (including the vaccines that many of the children were behind on due to lack of money from the government to buy these items), eyeglasses, clothing, and much more. Fortunately, the kids at the orphanage are generally very healthy and enjoy a higher quality of life compared to those in the community as they receive food, education, and job support. For this reason, many of the children aren’t actually orphans, but are voluntarily enrolled by their families so that they can live a better life.

“I knew after this experience that I wanted to devote my career to improving global health.”

In addition to providing health care to the kids at the orphanage, the other main goal of the trip was to provide supportive care to the nearby communities, which were extremely poor. We set up mobile clinics (literally tent tarps and folding chairs) each day in remote villages and also returned to them in the second week to see follow-up patients (i.e., ones with a first-time high blood sugar or blood pressure reading). In churches or homes, we triaged and conducted hundreds and hundreds of medical exams on local people, screening them, diagnosing illnesses and infections, and prescribing medications when needed. Many of the people we saw I am certain have never even seen a doctor in their lives. Our most common diagnoses were diabetes and hypertension (one patient I saw had a blood pressure of 202/100.

Nursing duties in Nicaragua

Nursing duties in Nicaragua

A healthy adult should be around 120/80!). Some people were already aware that they had certain illnesses like diabetes or hypertension, but their local pharmacy would often not have the stock of the medication they needed. Locals and health care professionals in these communities attributed this primarily to corrupt government. Thus, another big part of our trip was bringing mass supplies of medication to help restock pharmacies and providing people with adequate amounts of the medicine they needed.

We provided other valuable services including optical check-ups, providing eyeglasses and much-needed dental care. I’ll always remember when a volunteer called me over to help because while as they were brushing a child’s teeth, they were all falling out because they were so decayed. Prior to arriving in Nicaragua, our group connected with local health care professionals and specialists who also accompanied us in our clinics. This was extremely valuable since many people required specialist services and/or follow-up care after our departure. We had a local gynecologist, optometrist, many nurses, and a dentist volunteering with us. Combined with our own group of doctors, nurses, dieticians, and many other health professionals, we were able to efficiently see huge numbers of people in a short period of time and subsequently connect them with specialists if needed.

Nursing duties in Nicaragua

Enjoying a quick nap in Nicaragua

This volunteer trip was the first type of experience I had done like this. It was humbling and fulfilling to say the least, and I knew after this experience that I wanted to devote my career to improving global health.


Find out more about the Master of International Public Health program at the University of Sydney. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady for more information about other public health programs at Australian universities. Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.