G’day mate! (Just kidding, I’ve not been here long enough to be saying that seriously). Hi everyone. I’ve been living in Australia now for 4 months, studying at the University of Sydney. My first semester here has just finished and I’m about to start the next part of my time out here, which is going to involve an obscene amount of travelling! What else is an exchange student to do with their time off?!
Why study abroad?
I’m studying out here for two semesters (the equivalent of three terms in the UK). Back home I’m a Natural Scientist. On my return, I’m going to specialise in Physics and complete my degree and Masters.
My year in Australia is an additional year, rather than a replacement year. So I’ll be a third year again when I go home. I chose this so I could study some different subjects and explore some other interests. I weighed up the extra year as being worth it, it’s only one year in my life! Also, I had never taken the gap year I wanted to.
Before I got to Uni I always envisioned myself going on a Year Abroad, with my heart set on Australia or New Zealand. My brother had done a semester in New Zealand during his degree, so I guess this was the initial inspiration. But when considering whether I was really serious about this, I realised I hadn’t given it much consideration beyond ‘Australia is great, I want to see a kangaroo and go to the beach’.
What I did discover, through doing some more research, was that the University of Sydney could offer me the chance to study a wider range of subjects. Plus, I’d be at a globally renowned University (another one – go York), on a beautiful campus and in the heart of an amazing city. There are also many other benefits to a year abroad: increased employability, independence and so many opportunities through people you might meet that you just don’t know about yet! Seeing a kangaroo and going to the beach have not disappointed either.
Time to go… But am I doing the right thing?
I booked my flight to Sydney in April, for July. At that point, it definitely had not sunk in that I was going. I don’t think it really registered until I had to say goodbye to some good friends a week before the flight.
The busy third-term exam season hadn’t really given me much opportunity to consider what my life would be like out here. So I found myself past security in Heathrow airport, having said a fairly (very) tearful goodbye to my parents, feeling unprepared with a definite sense of ‘what am I doing?’.
It turns out what I was doing was a great choice, though it took me a few weeks to realise it. I was very worried about leaving my friends and family behind. But you quickly realise they are only a Facetime or message away! Making new friends out here but also talking to ones back home, really settled my initial anxieties. I’ll stress that I was also incredibly excited – for all the reasons I wanted to go on this adventure in the first place, just not quite mentally prepared!
4 months in
After a whole semester of uni and some travelling under my belt, Sydney feels like a home away from home. It’s just like starting at university for the first time again (except this time 10,000 miles away).
Sydney is huge, bigger than anywhere I have lived before, but I don’t feel like I’m living a big city life. Each suburb has its own personality. Travelling 20 minutes by train from the main harbour to Bondi beach feels like you’ve gone to a completely different place.
I’m so excited for the next 7 months of life and exploration in Sydney and Australia!