University News

Warhawk treasures study abroad experience down under

April 05, 2024

Written by Lalaina Chandanais | Photos submitted

A student wears a camoflauge hat and feeds a kangaroo out of his hand.

Studying abroad is one of the boldest, most independent opportunities a student can take during their college career and one that can provide some of the most rewarding experiences. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater biology major Lance Freeman can attest to this — he is studying abroad in Australia for a full calendar year.

Pictured, right: Lance Freeman feeds a kangaroo during his time studying abroad in Australia.

Freeman expressed that ever since he was young, he had always been interested in biological science, and the strength of that curiosity and passion is what eventually fueled his desire to become immersed in it.

“When I was a kid, it was dinosaurs,” said Freeman. “I moved on to marine biology since I can’t see dinosaurs, only their bones.”

When it came to considering college education, Freeman was initially drawn to UW-Whitewater due to a multitude of factors, including the tight-knit community and the short walking distances between classes. Still, the most influential of them all was the opportunity provided to study abroad.

At a college fair before his freshman year, he first learned about the study abroad trip to Australia for marine biology students and was instantly intrigued. Hailing from Port Washington, Freeman knew that it was uncommon for those living in the area to get much experience with the ocean, let alone the opportunity to study it first-hand.

“From the marine biology perspective, it helps to be near seawater,” he said. “In Australia, you can do fieldwork that you can’t do in Wisconsin.”


An underwater shot of a student wearing scuba gear makes a peace sign with his fingers.

Lance Freeman scuba dives near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.


Now, after becoming a recipient of the Burton Heldt Study Abroad Scholarship and the Student Opportunities Fund scholarship in the fall of 2023, Freeman is across the world, spending every day surrounded by opportunities for hands-on experience in his desired field.

The trip was presented as one to further his biology education, but he can confidently say that new knowledge of the ocean life of Australia was not the only thing he discovered. He has also learned a lot from interacting with and exploring Australian culture, including that the expectations surrounding what to call teachers are much less formal — many prefer to be called by their first names. In addition, Tim Tams — Australian chocolate-covered biscuits — have become one of his new favorite candies.

Most importantly, the independence that comes with being on the other side of the globe from one’s parents is a valuable skill that Freeman feels he has grown immensely through his experience studying in Australia.

Freeman is set to graduate this summer with a bachelor’s in marine biology and freshwater ecology. He recently accepted a position as a water biologist for Lake and Pond Solutions in Elkhorn. He will begin his new role when he returns to the U.S. this summer.

When asked about what he pictures his current dream job to be, he expressed an openness to many possibilities, but held true to the original passion that drove him to take the international trip.

“I do not have a specific answer, but I would like something on the coasts,” he said. “I want to be on the ocean as much as possible.”

Based on his new job — and his study abroad experience — he appears to be closer to realizing his dream.

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