I will begin by stressing that if you are studying abroad in Sydney in the fall, bring warm clothing. When you first arrive, you will be in Australia’s winter. Even though, by the time you leave it will be summer, I wish I had brought an actual jacket, hoodie, sweater, and raincoat. It doesn’t get New York cold, but it gets cold. I wish someone told me that before I arrived because I had only brought long sleeved shirts, jeans, and a light coat. The last couple of weeks of the fall semester are hot, but the majority of the semester was is around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Secondly, do not feel discouraged if you do not immediately notice the cultural and societal differences between Australia and the United States. The differences are there, but not at the surface. At the surface, especially in Sydney, you just see a very Western city dynamic where the only major differences are the accents and the fact that everyone walks and drives on the left. However, after living in Sydney for at least a month and completely immersing yourself in the experience, you will discover the differences. I will not list these differences, however, because it is a very unique and personal experience to find them on your own.
If you want to have an extensive understanding of Sydney’s culture and history, I recommend you take the course “Australian Experience.” Now, originally, I decided to take “Australian Experience” because I was told by a past student that you not only learned all about Australia and its roots, but it was a fun, easy class with tons of field trips. In my opinion, I am glad that I took this course because without it, I believe I would lack the necessary knowledge of the place and the people I have been surrounded by the past four months. Everyone in my class had an edge on other students because I think we had a higher appreciation for certain elements of Australia. However, this was in no way an easy class, and although it had it’s fun moments, such as a few field trips and guest speakers, it felt like a History class at times. So, expect more of a history class than an “Australian Experience.”
Lastly, thinking about places I visited on my own, I definitely recommend you plan a trip to Melbourne. If you plan a few weeks in advance, which I did not do, tickets are very cheap. Nearing the end of the semester, it did not look like going to Melbourne was possible for me, but the decision that my roommate and I made to go to Melbourne was one of the best decisions I’ve made all semester. I loved it! I wish I could’ve stayed for a week. First of all, I recommend going in December because Christmas is huge there. The decorations are beautiful and the festivities like the light show are extremely entertaining. I also recommend the Australian Center for the Moving Image, the Melbourne Star, Old Melbourne Gaol, and also Hosier Lane for some awesome graffiti. It’s also such a hipster city with great brunch and coffee spots. I wish I could’ve stayed longer to explore more.
All in all, I enjoyed my experience in Sydney, Australia, but I am unsure if I would recommend it over the other NYU global sites. Many students love it here so much that they are staying for a couple extra weeks. However, I do not know if it’s because I was away from home during the summer as well and am just homesick or if I genuinely prefer New York more, but I’ve been wanting to go home for about a month now. Sydney is beautiful and there are still multiple places I haven’t discovered yet, but I just feel like it’s not enough for me. And this really saddens me because I have wanted to go to Australia for years. It was my dream. I am glad I get to say I studied in Australia for four months, but it was not easy for me.