When Genesee Community College Biotechnology student Leah Reino stepped off the plane in Brisbane, Australia for a Biotechnology exchange program, her world views changed forever. Leah has spent the last eight weeks in a Biotechnology exchange program with Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. She has returned to her classes at Genesee and has proclaimed she now has the ‘travel bug.’ So much, that’s she is already planning on attending a ten day study abroad trip to Costa Rica to study the Costa Rican rain forests over spring break in 2011.
Leah is the third Genesee student to travel to Australia, but the first biotechnology student. Two nursing students traveled in the spring of 2010 for a nursing placement at Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane. The work placement exchange allowed for Leah to work three days a week in two medical pathology laboratories. The first was Sullivan and Nicolaides Pathology, one of Australia’s largest pathology practices and the second was Greenslopes Private Hospital Blood Bank, a division of Sullivan Nicolaides. One day each week, Leah went to South Bank of Technology to meet with her program director, Caroline Camino, to turn in assignments and help South Bank’s lab assistants with daily tasks.
On Leah’s days off from lab work and homework, she traveled with her home-stay family, Ed and Christiane Tschape-Edmonds and their two children Lara and Tom. She traveled south west of Brisbane to Mt. Barney where she enjoyed a camping trip with her home-stay family, the Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise with program director Caroline, and she traveled to the coastal town of Ballina in the state of new South Wales. At the culmination of the trip, Leah flew to New Zealand where she traveled the south island. She explored the country while backpacking through Queenstown and Wanaka, taking a nature cruise through Milford Sound and a plane ride over scenic mountains vistas. Throughout all of her travels, she has blogged online at www.GCCBlogs.wordpress.com where she shared pictures of her work, travels and home-stay family.
“The experience overall was so wonderful,” Leah reflected. “It was an incredible opportunity to learn about another culture. I never knew how many diverse cultures were represented in Australia. Because of the strong cultural diversity, the Australian people were so accepting and were generally happy, relaxed people.”
Leah enjoyed the new cultural experiences she encountered including new foods. “I did try Vegemite! And of course they have excellent tea. But the one thing Australians don’t have are graham crackers! When we camped out I wanted to make s‘mores and my home-stay family had never had them because they don’t have graham crackers.”
Leah had the unique opportunity to be in Australia while they were electing a new Prime Minister to office. “It was really interesting to see another system of government and how it works.” She also found driving on the left side of the road interesting as well, “Since I’ve been home, I have to consciously make sure I’m driving on the right side of the road!”
Leah, originally from Farmersville, NY, has been a full time student at Genesee since fall of 2007, when she was 15 years old. She was home-schooled through middle school and then completed her high school requirements through Genesee in the spring of 2008. She is now working on her associate's degree with plans to graduate in the spring of 2011. Her future plans include transferring to the University of Rochester to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology with concentrations in Molecular and Cell Biology. She hopes to one day obtain a PhD in that same field. Her dream job would be to perform genetic research, preferably at Roswell Park to study cancer research.
Leah has big plans for the future, which certainly includes traveling. “I really would love to return to Australia and New Zealand someday. I’ve definitely got the ‘travel bug’! My goal for my lifetime now is to set foot on every continent!”
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A photograph of Leah Reino horseback riding in New Zealand
A photograph of Leah Reino overlooking mountains in New Zealand
A photograph of Leah Reino with sheep on a hillside in Wanaka, New Zealand