The past few weeks, my friends and I have been discussing the strange feeling we’re all experiencing. It is a combination of happiness and sadness, satisfaction and regret, eagerness and hesitation. Studying abroad has this effect because of the unique opportunity you have to actually live in a place, but not for very long at all. It seems that right when we’re feeling less like visitors and more like residents of Sydney, it’s time to go. With that in mind, the biggest piece of advice I can give to someone coming to NYU Sydney, as cliché and obvious as it sounds, is to make the most of every moment. The time goes by so unbelievably quick.
Something I wish someone would have told me before coming to Sydney was that I wasn’t going to have direct access to a beach. Our accommodation and campus are both located in the Central Business District. It takes about 40 minutes to get to the popular beaches. So basically, you really need to plan your beach days. Go after class during the week and during the day on the weekend. Bring your homework if you have to. Even though it sounds like a bit of a drag, you will regret not spending every breathing moment you had at the beach when you have to leave.
Plan trips way ahead of time. Travelling from Sydney to other parts of Australia and beyond is amazing and a must. However, it doesn’t come as easily as it does for students studying in Europe. Flights are expensive and long. Start thinking about spring break right away, as well as other must-see destinations that can be done over a long weekend, like Cairns and Melbourne. Take a look at your syllabi when choosing which weekends to go, this way you can actually enjoy your trip and not stress. Also consider the activities you’d like to participate in the places you travel. For example, you must schedule a tour for the Great Barrier Reef ahead of time. You also need to rent a car (and know how to drive on the opposite side of the road) to see the beautiful scenery on the South Island of New Zealand.
Invite everyone in the cohort to hang out at the beginning of the semester. This is the best way to make friends and form a solid group to do things with. As soon as we got to Sydney, one student made a Facebook group for all the students in the cohort. That first weekend, one suite invited everyone to their room via the Facebook group to hang out before exploring Sydney’s nightlife. This was where I really bonded with some of the girls in the cohort, who have turned out to be my best friends here. Say yes to invitations, too. If you say no too many times, the invitations will stop coming.
Attend NYU’s organized events. It was through these events that I really got to understand Sydney’s character and history. They were really fun and gave me the chance to get to know the staff better, which is made up of some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. Even if the actual activity was not so exciting, there was usually free food and I got to talk to people that weren’t necessarily in my classes or circle of friends.
Overall, just do what you believe is going to be the most worthwhile. Your experience in Sydney can easily be ambiguous if you just go to class and go home, just like any other semester in New York. Embrace the differences. Do something you can’t do in New York. Talk to strangers. Go out more than you usually do. Wander aimlessly. When will you be able to say you’re living on the complete opposite side of the world again?