By Macey McGovern, Foster Undergraduate who is participating on an exchange with the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia.
G’day mates! Hallo! What’s up bro? These are all greetings I’ve heard here in Sydney, Australia…just from a Dutch classmate. Hands down, this is the best part of studying abroad so far. Not only am in a completely unfamiliar place with complete strangers, but we are all intertwining our individual adventures and spreading cultures across boundaries that otherwise would inhibit this kind of immersion so easily.
I definitely took the path less travelled on my study abroad experience. Not only am I addressing the 24 hours I spent in transit to this land from Seattle, but also in setting up my temporary life here. I stayed in a hostel for the first week and threw away the guaranteed housing packet in order to seek the finest, student budget-friendly accommodation. After an initial month in an apartment with a Chilean roommate and a surprise four-day notice of eviction, I am so incredibly happy with my new flat right on the water where I room with a girl from Switzerland, two girls from Japan, and one from Brazil. Not all is luxury though, because if you think getting along with your current roommates is hard, try living with people who do not share one single language in common.
Although I have been obsessed with Australia for the majority of my life, I was not at all prepared for the crazy adventurous spirit that possessed me upon leaving the airport in mid-July. Within the first few days, I was holding snakes, winning competitions at surf camp, and hiking up and down the coastal beach paths for miles each day. Kilometers, excuse me. Two months later, I have attended both a conference and an opera at the famous Sydney Opera House, held a koala (fulfilling my previous life goal), volunteered at a kangaroo sanctuary, sand-boarded through the dunes, DJ’d a cruise around the Sydney Harbor, flew to Melbourne for a weekend to see the Twelve Apostles and the home of the Australian Open, swam cage-less with sharks and stingrays, and spent two days hiking 25 miles up and down the Blue Mountains on a re-torn ACL. Now, the point in sharing all of that was not to boast about my extracurricular activities, but instead to share my newfound revelations of making the most of time. In Seattle, routines of school and work become so regular that we often forget about everything the area around us has to offer. Although some of the things I’ve done are exclusive to Australia, it’s made me realize how much more I could be doing at home, even on the weekends by exploring a little more of what Washington State has to offer.
Conquering this continent with complete strangers has to be my favorite part of studying abroad. Many are from Asian and European nations, but even working and studying with Americans from the east coast exposes me to differences I was not aware prevailed in our nation. Being from Seattle though, and the University of Washington, and the Foster School of Business, I had to obviously represent. I gathered the other Dawgs I knew were also down under and attended the Sydney Uni Lions basketball game where they played…drumroll please…THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON HUSKIES! I’m still surprised this happened while we were here. Our Dawg Pack was minuscule, but even so we were definitely louder than the rest of the crowd. PSA: if you are an avid Husky sports fan and leave during football season to go to Australia, be prepared for 4am kick-off times when you stream an “11am” game. It’s worth it.
I’m about halfway through my travels, three-quarters of the way done with the semester, and besides the rigor of being a full-time student and planning how to do everything I want to in the fading period of time, I have never been happier with myself for choosing to apply to a Foster exchange program. I’ve made friends I cannot even fathom saying goodbye to, extended my list of places I must travel to now, and blessed my transparent skin with a tint of color. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to study finance and marketing in a place with completely different stock exchanges, media tactics, and overall business practices but through this international experience, I’ve found that you have to learn about these differences if you want to be successful on a worldwide scale. Foster was right: business is global.