Time of my life down under Past Review

By (The College of William and Mary) - abroad from 07/19/2018 to 11/26/2018 with

IES Abroad: Sydney Direct Enrollment - University Of Sydney

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made. It was incredibly worthwhile. I learned a lot about myself- I learned that I am very sentimental and that is important not to take experiences like this for granted, and I also learned what I want out of my life, and what priorities are important to me in the place I live.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Very rigorous but interesting classes at one of the top universities in the world. Only issues I had were with the administration, as registering for and gaining special consideration for classes was somewhat difficult.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IES program administrators were super friendly and helpful, and organized lots of great activities in the first few days to get us settled and throughout the semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Good quality apartments right on the edge of campus, great location and good facilities.

* Food:

Lots of great restaurants and take away places on King Street in Newtown where we lived, and lots more great places in Sydney's downtown.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Great activities thrown by the Sydney University Village where we were living to meet full time students and other abroad students in the community.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

IES provided health coverage and when I needed my coverage it was easy to get reimbursed for any fronted costs. I did not need any vaccines prior to my arrival.

* Safety:

Sydney is a very safe city, I never felt unsafe walking around alone even late at night.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I cannot say enough good things about my experience studying abroad in Sydney, Australia last semester. From the amazing people I met to the incredible places I explored and unbelievable experiences I had, my time down under was everything I hoped it would be and so much more, and my decision to study abroad was one of the best I have ever made. Before embarking last July, I had never even stepped foot in the southern hemisphere, so Australia was a giant leap beyond any adventure I had ever lived before. I knew little about the culture, the geography, or really anything about the country for that matter beyond what I had heard about kangaroos, koalas, and surfing paradises. So when I hopped off the plane in Sydney, I was ready for anything. Meeting my program mates at the airport, driving through the center of Sydney on the way to University of Sydney's campus, and an amazing harbor cruise later, within just a few short hours I felt like I had already gotten to know Sydney, and it already felt like home. The first few weeks were spent exploring everything Sydney has to offer, and it didn't disappoint. From lazy beach days at Bondi and Manly to thrift shopping in Chinatown and experiencing Sydney's incredible nightlife, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with a city I had only dreamt of a month earlier. IES organized hikes for us in the Blue Mountains and Royal National Park, allowing us to get a glimpse of the stunning scenery and landscapes set just miles outside of the contrasting concrete jungle of Sydney's downtown. Once we had settled in to our new home and gotten in to a rhythm with our classes, it was time to venture beyond and explore what the rest of Australia had to offer! Our first big weekend trip of the semester was to Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, a true tropical paradise that makes for a relaxing weekend of pristine beaches and unwinding. Not to mention we got to hold a Koala, something you can't do in most parts of Australia! This first trip started a run of weekends on the go, from the amazing landscapes and hiking in Tasmania to learning (somewhat) how to surf in Woolongong and ending up in Fiji for mid-semester break. Fiji was the kind of place I had always heard about and I thought it would be super cool to go there, but the thought never even crossed my mind that I would actually go there. So to be jumping off the rooftop of Cloud 9 into the crystal clear Pacific Ocean only 2 months after arriving down under was one of the most surreal experiences I have been lucky enough to ever have. After returning back from Fiji, it was really nice to be able to have a few weeks back in Sydney. I found that no matter where we traveled, I always looked forward to being back in Sydney and being able to make the most of my time there. Walking around Circular Quay, taking the ferry to Watson's Bay, stopping through the Botanical gardens: there really is anything available to you that you could want. Next up was a trip to Melbourne for the weekend, an equally unreal city, and a viewing of the Melbourne soccer derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory. We unknowingly purchased tickets for the Melbourne City away section, but ended up making the right decision as City came out with a hard fought victory (no pun intended). With the weeks flying by, and our trip to Melbourne complete, before we knew it classes were over and Study Vacation rolled around, which we used, instead of gearing up with finals, to road trip around New Zealand's South Island for the week. And believe me when I tell you there is no more beautiful place in the world than New Zealand. We had planned out the destinations we wanted to hit, but just the driving there was in some ways more amazing. Rolling hills set against towering mountains in the distance turned into serene glacial lakes and dense forests. Hiking to the top of tall peaks in Wanaka and checking out the nightlife in Queenstown, we saw as much as we could in our short time there, and before long it was back to Sydney for exams. Studying hard for the next few days, I didn't really have time to reflect much on my semester, but once I walked out of my last exam, it hit me that my time abroad was coming to an end. I had seen so much, yet it felt like it had gone by in the blink of an eye. In my last few days, as I started saying goodbye to the people I had grown so close to over the past few months, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness that I would have to leave my favorite place. But as I prepared to depart back to the US, I left a piece of myself on campus, in the sands of Bondi, and everywhere that I was lucky enough to call home for those few months. As sad as I was to leave, and as much as I miss Australia every single day, I know someday I'll be back, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to Study Abroad. I would encourage absolutely anyone to make the same choice I did, as there really is no other experience like it. It was the adventure of my lifetime, and it could be for you, too.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Food in Sydney is expensive, be it groceries or eating out, so I certainly spent a lot of money throughout the semester on it, but if you are sensible about balancing eating out and cooking for yourself, you should be fine.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? around $100/week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Again, balance eating out and cooking for yourself, and understand as well that going out in Sydney's downtown is also very expensive.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Amazing friends I met
  • Sydney as a city has everything you could possibly want in a city
  • Good base to able to travel all around Australia and the Pacific
* What could be improved?
  • University of Sydney Administration
  • Housing was decent but not amazing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just simply to make the most of it, and not to sacrifice anything that you want to do or see during your time abroad.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.