During my second semester of freshman year at New York University, I had the opportunity to take several different options of classes available to Steinhardt’s Honors Students. While being in the program and being able to take classes like these ones was satisfying and advantageous in its own right, the most significant feature of this program was its benefit of studying abroad. I decided to take a class called Food, Culture, and Globalization which was taught by a professor named Krishnendu Ray. The class did seem interesting in the terms of the topics it would be focusing on; however, what mainly stood out to myself and many of the other students that would join the class was the one week trip to Sydney that would be held during spring break.
Although I am a Steinhardt student, most of my friends are from other schools like Stern and CAS and I hardly interact with any Steinhardt kids outside of my department. This class was especially interesting because it was a class open to all Steinhardt honors students and so its participants ranged from Media,Culture, and Communication majors to Global Public Health majors. Throughout the semester, the students naturally separated into different cliques based on their majors and as the only person of my respective major, I spent the majority of the semester fairly secluded.
It finally came for the one week seminar in Sydney. I had been so busy with midterms and projects the week before that it all came so suddenly and I was definitely unprepared. After a long series of flights, we eventually landed in Sydney. The city was beautiful. Vibrant greenery was scattered across the city and crystal-clear waters surrounded what seemed like a paradise island. The city was also filled with a variety of unique buildings; there was a diverse array of humongous, modern skyscrapers as well as old-fashioned English-style buildings and houses. The city was incredible as it seemed to be reminiscent of places I’ve previously lived in such as New York, California, and Korea.
One of the things I did not know about Sydney and Australia in general until taking this class and visiting the country was its rich history and development. Australia was colonized by the British long ago and the country became a dumping ground for criminals and outcasts of British society. To some, this punishment was devastating, but to others, it served as a opportunity to start anew. Ambitious as some of these individual were, the natives of Australia were not particularly pleased with the expansive efforts of the British and thus conflict arose. Although all of this turmoil and controversy plagued the country, fast-forward a couple hundred years, and we now see that the country is very diverse and thriving.
Another very interesting aspect of my experience in Sydney had to do with the friends I made during my week there. As I mentioned above, I made no friends before this trip due to the divided nature of the class dynamic as well as my own lack of will to get involved. The trip to Sydney really dissolved those internal boundaries within our class as many of us were able to newly experience the amazing and beautiful characteristics of Australian culture together. Through visits to various Sydney historical sites and buildings as well as meals of kangaroo and crocodile, I was eventually able to bond with several of the individuals within the class. My relationships and interactions with these people made the experience so much more entertaining and interesting as I was able to talk and hear about various perspectives and ideas people had towards the city and we had many memorable moments throughout the trip.
NYU is such a great school in that it has such an expansive network across the globe and consequently offers many experiential learning opportunities in cities like Sydney or London. As students of other study abroad sites, I’m sure many of you can relate in terms of the benefits and memories that come from living in a new city and experiencing its culture with your peers. I highly recommend looking into other NYU study away sites and contemplate whether or not to pursue those experiences because they really have the chance to burgeon into something special.