An AMAZING 21 weeks down under! Past Review

By (Engineering Science., Trinity University) - abroad from 07/05/2012 to 11/14/2012 with

IFSA: Sydney - University of New South Wales

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself (which sounds cheesy, but it's true) and I really learned a lot about Australia, and their history and culture both historically and now. Although Australian society is similar to that of the States it's culture is surprisingly different in ways and I also had the opportunity to visit Fiji and see both the touristy and the real side of the Fiji Islands which was an eye-opening experience that I learned a lot from, people living there are living a completely different lifestyle than we can imagine here in the States. I also learned a lot about the States and particularly Texans (I am one! Born and raised!) And it was really interesting to hear international perspectives on both the States and Texas specifically, also being abroad during the presidential elections was an experience! I hadn't realized before quite how influential the United States is and how interested and invested foreign countries are in our elections and political affairs.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

UNSW was a much different educational experience than a small school like Trinity! Classes were huge and impersonal, serious major classes were just as rigorous as an American school, UNSW is known for it's strong engineering programs. But there are also fun intro classes which were great for getting to know the true Australian culture!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in the UNSW Village, which are apartments on campus. My living arrangement was initially a bit of a shock, I was in a 6 bedroom apartment that I shared with two other American girls and 3 male full time UNSW students, one of which was actually Australian! Although I wasn't expecting to live with 3 guys it worked out, and the living situation was fine. I became close friends with the two other girls and the guys mostly kept to themselves but they were nice. I would definitely live in the Village again if I had the chance! The location is unbeatable! So convenient on campus and only 5 minute walk from a major bus stop, 20 from the beach, 10 or less from shopping, great restaurants and anything else you might want. And the Village is a social area, they are always hosting events for the 1000+ residents with free food or give aways.

* Food:

You can really find any kind of food you could ever want in Australia! I fell in love with Thai food though! And to be honest never found decent Mexican food...but I'm from Texas so that may not be a valid opinion.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I truly felt like I lived there! I considered Sydney home for those months and I feel like I was really immersed. Australia is a surprising culture difference from America that I feel like a lot of people don't expect. But I was able to immerse myself in it and really feel apart of the culture. It also really helps to get involved in the community or on campus, get to know Australians and hang out where the Australians do! It's a waste of an experience if you spend all your time with Americans!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have an issue.

* Safety:

Sydney's a big city, so of course there's risks but overall I always felt safe. You can quickly learn the seedier areas of the city and where you shouldn't be hanging out late at night...but most of the city is really safe. I always felt comfortable riding the buses or walking around even late at night. Of course use some sense, travel in groups late at night and don't put yourself in bad situations intentionally!

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


* 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)

I lived on an average of probably $100 a week not including the cost of flights and board on the trips I took or my housing in Sydney. But life in Sydney I managed on $100 a week. Australia is expensive anyways, but Sydney is a big city so of course it's going to cost a little more to live there. But it's definitely manageable. You can learn the places to shop and eat, you can find student discounts at places and get to know locals to find out where to go.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100, on food, entertainment, bus passes
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Get to know where the locals shop. American brands are much more expensive, so unless you have to have your usual brand try the local version particularly in candy and food.


* 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

  • Local Students
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Bonding with other participants
  • Immersion in the culture (living/studying with UNSW students)
  • Assistance throughout the process before/during/after going abroad
* What could be improved?
  • A volunteer/service component would be awesome!
  • More excursions/events (although I think it was just my semester/coordinator, from what I've seen and heard other IFSA programs and past UNSW semesters did more)
  • Communication between coordinator and students (although again may have just been my semester)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more about the academic conversion process, ie UNSW courses going to Butler and then to my university. I was a little confused on the hours/credits but it all worked out in the end. IFSA excursions, before going on the excursions I didn't know what to expect and the website listed different "options" or examples which were not offered to me while I was abroad.