By Emma Hamilton
When I look back on my study abroad experience at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia the first things that come to mind aren’t kayaking with dolphins in the Pacific Ocean or spending 3 days on a sail boat in the Whitsunday Islands (both of which I would highly recommend for anyone in the area). The first images that come to mind are the faces of the many inspiring people I met, particularly the few that I can now call my close friends.
It only hit me when I was flying out of the US, but going to an unfamiliar continent that takes days to get to with no one to share the experience with is pretty daunting. Luckily I was surrounded by other students in the same situation and quickly found people from all over the world who were ready and willing to explore the country with me. Naturally, it was these people that I recruited help from to write this post. What follows is our brainstormed list that just about summarizes my study abroad experience:
- Wild kangaroos
- Attempting to surf (And windsurf and sail… all unsuccessfully)
- Getting knocked over by giant waves (I was much more comfortable watching the monster waves myself but some people like to be pummeled.)
- Tim Tams
- Peeing sparkles (Pretty much as odd as it sounds but really cool. We spent 3 days on Fraser Island, an island made purely of sand and free from light pollution. At night not only can you can see the milky way in all its glory and the constellations of the southern hemisphere, but you can also pee in the ocean, which make some microorganism in the water light up in reaction to the warmth, so it appears that you are in fact peeing sparkles.)
Me on Indian Head, Fraser Island
- Driving on the other side of the road (I was in the passenger seat, but the first rental car was a learning experience for us all)
- Regaoke (Thursday night karaoke at the Regent, a pub next to campus)
- Skydiving *
- Sleeping under the stars (In the Outback it is common to sleep in a well-insulated sleeping bag known as a swag under the starry night sky.)
Me and my friends Jordan & Matilda with Uluru (Ayers Rock)
- New amazing friends
- Walking from school to the beach
- Chicken Big Macs (In my opinion Australian ‘Maccas’ > American McDonalds.)
- The ferry to Manly (Public transportation was almost free on Sundays, so this scenic ferry ride through the harbor was a go to if we weren’t leaving for the weekend.)
On the ferry from Manly to Circular Quay at sunset
Needless to say, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list. I could go on and on about the adventures and the people that contributed to those 5 months of my life. The cool thing about exchange study abroad programs is that everyone’s experience will be unique to them. I hope this gives a brief look into my exchange experience and encourages anyone thinking about going to UNSW – or anywhere else in the world – to apply.
*The GT Office of International Education does not condone or encourage skydiving, but we’re glad Emma had a good time on her program!