Travel tip 1: Bored on an airplane? Pick a victim, one that won’t sleep during the flight and mimic everything they do. Watch the same movie, order the same food. Do the ridiculous things they do when they start testing you because they’re suspicious you’re copying them. They will not confront you (probably not at least)… but it’s a great way to remain entertained. Ok, I’m only kidding, bring a book or watch the inflight movie or something instead. On a more serious note, I can’t believe the semester has gone by so fast, but I have honestly loved being here in Australia.
I would definitely recommend it for anyone thinking about studying some place outside of New York. Why? For starters the language is English, so that is one less adjustment you would have to get used to upon you’re arrival (and everyone is really nice here, and ok not everyone, but overall it’s a friendlier atmosphere than New York for sure). Another reason to come (which was honestly probably the biggest reason I came) is when else will you get to come to Australia? It’s a great way to spend an extended period time in a truly amazing country while not having to take a “gap year” and be able to continue your studies. By studying here you not only get the tourist version, but you get cultural context through your classes and the program.
One thing you should know before coming here is that the weather is a little unpredictable. This is obviously not a reason to not come, but it should be taken into consideration when you’re packing (depending on what seasons you’re coming). It never hurts to have a good rain jacket, or some warmer clothes. Also bring a towel, that’s something I didn’t pack that I wound up buying here, and to that end, if you can, try and leave room in your suitcase because I can almost guarantee you’ll leave with more than you came with.
Something I wish I would have done better was planning. While in Australia (if you have the time and budget for it), there are some truly breath-taking places to travel to (the city of Sydney offers a lot in and of itself as well). Especially going into “tourist season” flights and trips get more expensive, so the better organized you are about planning the less you would have to spend. (Blue Mountains and Royal National Park are both nice day trips that are relatively cheap).
Although there is no choice of where to live here, the accommodations are nice. Everyone gets their own room (and bathroom/shower). You live in six-person suites, in an area very near central (which is a main train station). It is also about a 30-40 minute walk to where classes are held (not a bad walk when the weather is nice).
Something to look into while in Sydney (if you’re into food, and let’s be honest… who isn’t?) is the crazy milkshake places they have scattered around. Foodcraft expresso in Erskineville has these things called “tella-ball shakes” – look it up. Some other notable places are XS Expresso and The Missing Piece. Honestly, Australian buzzfeed is always full of great things that are in and around Sydney. Another thing that should be done around Sydney is the walks. Our program took us on the Coogee to Bondi walk during orientation week and it was gorgeous (once again, buzzfeed has a list of recommended walks that are definitely worth checking out). Buy Tim-Tams from the store too… they’re REALLY good, try the different flavors.
Like any abroad situation, you definitely get a lot more out of it if you have local friends. I found mine through the internship I was doing, but the program does a great job of providing you with the resources to find them other ways (although you do have to go put effort in to do this yourself obviously). You are able to join clubs at local universities (and the gym, but the accommodations we are staying in are getting renovated and will soon have a gym, probably in time for the next semester). There’s so much more I could say (that won’t fit in a 600 word blog post), but if anyone has questions or wants to hear more about a particular aspect of my experience I would be more than happy to do so. Anyone heading to Australia I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!