The fall of my junior year I decided to pursue my dream of studying in Sydney, Australia through IFSA-Butler! I stayed only a short walk from the University of Sydney in Redfern, Sydney and lived in a beautiful apartment with 7 other girls. I knew that I wanted to live as a typical Australian student and my goal was to integrate as much as I could into Aussie culture.
At University of Sydney, fondly called USyd, I took courses like Marine Biology and a course on the Holocaust. In Australia, courses are set up very differently; large lectures three times a week were supplemented with once a week tutorials that were similar to F&M’s daily classes. At first this was difficult but with the help of some of my new Australian friends I was able to acclimate! Through these courses, I was able to engage in discussion on topics that I would have never been able to anywhere else in the world. For example, a class called "Indigenous Australia" taught me about racism and the many different forms through which racism can originate.
Going to another hemisphere without knowing anyone on my program was a challenge but I believe it was what allowed me to grow personally and have a different experience than most of the people on my program. While most stuck with the friends they made through IFSA-Butler orientation, I ventured out and sought out people that I now consider my Australian family! By allowing myself to explore and fully integrate into an Australian friend group, I learned more about Australian culture and further developed my own beliefs about American culture.
I had the opportunity to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns and travel through the Atherton Tablelands to see magnificent wildlife. I was able to see the Little Penguins sprint from the ocean on Phillip Island in Melbourne. I horseback rode through a hiking trail. And most importantly, I discovered myself in a way I never would have otherwise.
Although studying abroad is wonderful, there are challenging parts as well, and that’s the beauty of going to another country! I was overwhelmed and scared going into Coles, a popular supermarket, looking for ketchup, only to learn it’s called pasta sauce and Heinz doesn’t exist (I know, crazy!). Navigating a public transportation system was at first extremely daunting as I had never used buses or trains before since I’m from a suburban town. Although the adjustment was difficult, it allowed me to reaffirm my belief in my ability to take on anything that comes at me. Studying abroad doesn’t have to be “picture perfect” all the time, and that is what makes it a life changing experience! Go abroad!