Sierra Roth

Studying and working abroad while at the University of Alberta is an option for our students to go abroad and explore over 270+ programs around the world. Learn about Sierra Roth's latest experience as she studies abroad in Australia. 


Hello! My name is Sierra and I am in my 4th year of my Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree. This past winter I was fortunate enough to finish my last few classes in Brisbane, Australia at the University of Queensland.

Though it ended abruptly because of the pandemic, I still gained so much value in taking classes in another country and meeting people from all over the world.

I was hesitant on taking such a trip across the world in my wheelchair because there are not enough people talking about traveling alone for school with a disability. I hope this sheds light on anything is possible if you do enough research and planning prior to traveling. I can’t wait to take you on my journey!


While researching places to stay in Brisbane, I realized I wanted to stay off-campus. This is for two reasons. The first reason is Brisbane’s attractions and downtown are quite a ways from campus if you are not driving by car. Secondly, it is quite expensive and those that stay on campus are a lot younger than I am. I was lucky enough to find university-approved off-campus accommodation that was a short bus or ferry ride away from school but also very close to grocery stores.

The biggest perk to staying in a place like this was the people and our rooftop pool hangout area. The resident staff and people I met were some of the best experiences I had. Also, look at the view, how can you say no to that?


Do your research on housing, it definitely plays a huge part in your experience.

Ah, the campus. The University of Queensland is one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. Going to school here was a dream, especially when I could hop on the ferry and enjoy a quick ten-minute journey on the river every morning.


Note, at the University of Queensland, if you use a mobility aid and need assistance getting to classes due to all the hills, disability services can provide you someone in a higher year to help get you around. Be sure to research this and get in touch with your abroad disability services as soon as you can!


Another perk to my off-campus accommodation was the free trips and events they hosted. This was a great way to see the city and learn about all the best places to eat. If you stay in off-campus accommodation, definitely find buildings that offer something like this.

This photo shows one of the historical walks we took downtown. It ended with a quick trip to a famous pancake eatery!


The best part about going abroad at the end of my degree was that I only had to take 3 courses (take the least amount of courses possible, you want to be able to have enough time to travel!). This allowed me to only be on campus a couple of times a week and spend the rest of the time enjoying this view. Australia is famous for its beaches so I was lucky enough to make a couple of trips out to the beach via train. This area is called Coolum Beach and the sunrise was stellar.


Also, pro-tip for wheelchair users. If you ask the lifeguards on duty, they can drive you down the beach with your chair in their side by side so you don’t have to be carried. Otherwise, find strong friends or find beaches with accessible mating. The beach shouldn’t be something you avoid.


As the pandemic quickly escalated, many of my friends around the world, including me, we're being asked to return home. It was definitely a weird time to be in a country where things were still normal but the rest of the world was not. I was lucky enough to be part of a group that’s motto was “maximize our time”. Regardless of our time ending so abruptly we were able to make a couple of relaxing trips to places where we could socially distance but still enjoy all that Australia has to offer. Here we took a trip to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic and hike to destress from the chaos.


Though the world is looking a lot different now, I hope others can see the value in traveling in the future, regardless of your ability.

Thank you for following along on my journey to Australia!
Sierra Roth