Christopher Rhodes: I thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant university community, meeting a plethora of people from Australia and around the world alike.


British hydrologist Christopher Rhodes chose to go to University of Wollongong in 2013 for a year’s study abroad experience as part of his Bachelor of Science degree.

Returning to the UK in 2014, Christopher went on to complete a master degree in Science, majoring Hydrology and Climate Change and later joined Mott MacDonald Group – a global engineering, management and development consultancy firm as a hydrologist.

He spoke to Advance recently to share his study experience in Australia.

Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications Officer, Advance

Can you describe your current role?

I am a Graduate Hydrologist working for Mott MacDonald, a civil engineering and environmental consultancy company. I spend most of my time undertaking hydrology assessments, building and running hydraulic models to assess flood risk for a variety of clients.

Why are you interested in becoming a hydrologist?

Having an interest in geography and science, I opted to undertake an Environmental Science undergraduate degree to give me a strong foundation across the sector. This gave me an opportunity to study hydrology, meteorology and oceanography, which were long held interests of mine. Upon graduating I considered my options within these disciplines and felt that hydrology was the direction I wanted to take, leading me to doing a masters course in Hydrology.

Why did you choose to go to Australia to study?

As part of my undergraduate degree I transferred onto the study abroad version of my course at the end of my first year. I was offered the options of Europe, North America and Australia. Australia was the obvious option for me. I felt that I would enjoy the outdoor and active lifestyle, make the most of the living and studying in a hot, sunny, coastal location and really wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone being on the other side of the globe.

How was the experience?

My study abroad experience was a rollercoaster ride that now, 4 years later, seems like a dream. Located in student accommodation in Wollongong, I thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant university community, meeting a plethora of people from Australia and around the world alike. Many of these people I keep in touch with to this day. I enjoyed learning about topics that were not offered in the UK and getting to go on field trips in the local area. The location of the University of Wollongong meant that the beach was a short (free) bus ride away and I have fond memories of many beautiful afternoons spent body surfing and swimming in the sea. One of my favourite trips that I undertook during my time in Australia was a self-drive tour of New South Wales, visiting the homes of almost a dozen friends  over three weeks. This trip offered me a real insight into the rural side of Australia and meeting friends along the way made it so fun!

How did an Australian education help to advance your career?

The opportunity to broaden my horizons and undertake topics such as Coasts, Remote Sensing and Fluvial Geomorphology gave me a stronger foundation in my area of interest, as these topics were not available at my home university. The opportunity to work with experts in these fields was valuable and I learnt a lot of academic knowledge and skills from them. The opportunity to live and study in Australia paid dividends, as it was brought up at every single job interview I went to. At the interview of the job I accepted I was even asked to compare the hydrological conditions of England and Australia!

What do you miss most about Australia?

The main thing I miss about Australia is the friendly and welcoming people. During my time in Australia I was always made feel welcome at parties, when visiting friends and their families, and around the university. I also miss the amount of slang that Australians use and I do my best to keep it alive back home in the UK.