Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder
Traveling the world is something that I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. But with school, work, and just life in general I’ve always had something holding me back from exploring everywhere that I’ve wanted to. From the moment I started school at UW, I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to finally get an opportunity to travel to another part of the world by doing study abroad, and I’m happy to say that dream has finally become a reality!
Besides simply getting away from home, one of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad was to experience different cultures and gain a better world perspective. I’ve lived in the Seattle area all my life, and until this summer I had never even left the United States except for a few trips to Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. While I do love the Pacific Northwest, living in one place for so long makes me eager to switch up the pace and see how another culture lives their day to day life. From this experience I hope to not only better understand how Australian culture compares to American culture, but also to see how my culture is viewed through the eyes of others. I guess that reading about other nations and societies in textbooks would be one way to do this, but for me, getting out of my comfort zone and having a hands on experience would be a much more engaging lesson.
While my parents have always been happy that I stayed close to home for college, they were very encouraging of me to do study abroad because neither of them did much traveling in college and sort of regretted it. I have friends from high school and UW who studied abroad in Europe this past year and all had fantastic experiences, so hearing their stories was the final push for me to really make sure I got the opportunity to do the same.
I’m doing a semester abroad at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. Studying in Australia was especially tricky because not only is my university a semester school, but it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning that the start of their spring semester happens when it’s still summer up in Seattle. For that reason, I’ve actually been studying in Sydney for about a month already, and so far I love it!
The University of Sydney’s business school is very similarly structured to the Foster School of Business, so I don’t find the academic transition to be very hard. Although I guess that’s easy to say when I haven’t had any major tests for any of my classes yet. I’m really happy with my living situation as well. While there were many accommodation options to choose from, I signed up for a dorm just off campus that is new this semester and it’s incredible! There are lots of other international students, not just from the United States but from all over the world, so it’s easy to meet other people who are in the same situation as you and looking to explore. The dorm itself is VERY nice too. There are over 800 rooms, nearly all singles, and the facilities are impressive due to the fact that the dorm is so new. Just like everything in Sydney, it is pretty expensive, but I’m definitely happy with my choice.
Sydney itself is surprisingly similar to Seattle. Even though spring has just now started, it has been sunny and in the 60s here pretty consistently so that made the transition from a sweltering Seattle summer little easier. The city has a beautiful mix of really modern architecture and some older, almost European looking buildings, and Sydney Harbour is gorgeous! Sydney feels really safe as well and I’ve found that the locals are really kind. University students are always interested to hear about what life is like in the states and every time I’ve been looking at a map while in the city, friendly locals always approach me asking if I need a hand.
Of course, there are so many differences about living here in Sydney versus back home that make even the most ordinary days exciting! Sydney has some of the most interesting (and unbelievably loud) birds I have ever seen or heard, and the palm trees around the city and campus are a nice tropical touch. Sydney is a very multicultural city too, so there is every type of food you would want! And as you can imagine, the beach scene is great. Even in the end of winter/beginning of spring, Sydney’s sandy beaches are a really relaxing weekend destination, especially since they aren’t too touristy this time of year.
I’ll leave it at that for now but I’ll have many adventures to share next time I check in! Very excited that I still have 3 months here in front of me!