Time of my Life March 15, 2018

By (University of Rhode Island) - abroad from 07/12/2017 to 11/29/2017 with

The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Sydney - University of New South Wales

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I think I gained a better understanding of what my interest in life are. When I left the U.S. for the first time in high school, I was amazed when I came back, as my entire scope on the world had gotten bigger. It was really cool, but I didn’t get a lot of lasting impacts from it. This time, after being abroad for 5 months, I got a ton out of it. Most notably, my career. I Something just clicked when I went abroad, and I just discovered what I wanted to do with my career. I’m a communications major, and I’ve taken a lot of classes about how social media impacts our lives in some way shape or form every day. The coolest class I took abroad, Media, Society and Politics, really influenced me and not only lead me to create my own instagram hashtag, #sullyabroad, but it helped me discover that when I graduate, social media is the form of communications I want to study. So was it worthwhile? Finding out what I wanted to do after I graduated is invaluable, and I got that from my time abroad

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

One of the things that I loved about the education was how personal the classes were. I feel like at home, you can't speak during lectures but in the lectures that I had the professors would come right up to you and ask questions. It kind of eased the tension in class and made it a better learning environment

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was the best part about my study abroad experience, and it isn’t close. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the conditions, but the overall atmosphere and experience made up for it. I lived in UNSW Hall, which is really unique as the building had its own sort of identity. We had our own ball, weekly meetings, and our own dining hall so we all became one big family. One of my biggest let downs at college were the dorms at my school back in the U.S., as I thought it would be more community like. When I got to Hall, it was everything that I imagined a college dorm should be like.

* Food:

It was really convenient to have a dining hall in my building. We got breakfast and dinner there every day, and it was great to see everyone at dinner. It created a real family atmosphere… Unfortunately, the hours in the dining hall weren’t that great, and the food was fairly repetitive. The food in Australia itself was incredible, I really liked the different styles that they had, but the food in my building was average at best

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

When I got to Australia, TEAN had a huge orientation for us in Cairns. On our first day there we got to visit some aboriginals, get a tour of the rainforest, and go face to face with some Kangaroos and Koalas. They also taught us some Australian terms that we might need to know before they took us out to The Great Barrier Reef. It didn’t stop there however as when we got to our host city, events continued like a tour of the Sydney Opera House, an NRL game, and much more. Even in my dorm we had events like pub crawls, culture nights, movie nights, and much more to immerse ourselves into the culture. Everywhere I looked I had resources to help be get involved.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Never used it, but there was a clinic right on campus for us to use, so there was a lot of peace of mind when it came to healthcare.

* Safety:

There was on campus security that routinely patrolled campus, and were actually quite friendly. One of the security officers had a go-kart that he drove around, offering free rides back to the dorms. There were also “help” buttons around campus if anyone needed immediate assistance. Sydney is an extremely safe city, and I found UNSW to be arguably the safest spot in the city

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

The Education Abroad Network gave me the best experience of my life. I wish I could point out a singular thing that they did, but there were just too many good things to choose from. My first day on the ground every single staffer came up to me, introduced themselves, and took the time to get to know me, and in a foreign country that's so valuable. Not only were they fantastic resources, but (and its really cheesy to say,) they also felt like friends, and that went a long way. The range of activities that I had with TEAN, the all inclusive orientation experience, the Melbourne trip, the cultural events like the NRL game and surfing at Bondi Beach, the list of what TEAN gave to me is endless. Again, I hate being this cheesy but my study abroad experience would have been fairly average if it wasn't for TEAN. I can't imagine having done this trip with someone else and having as good of a time.

Finances

* 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)

It went week to week. There were plenty of times during the semester where I was too busy to go out, so all I would do was buy groceries and little snacks here and there, which were pretty affordable, easily less than $100 dollars a week. However, the night scene in Sydney is expensive. If I went out, say twice a week, that I could run north of an extra 75 dollars, which really adds up over the semester. Factor in little day trips, doing things or activities around Sydney and it added up real fast. I never got to a point where I had to aggressively budget, as Sydney was fairly student friendly, but it’s easy to get yourself in trouble if you don’t keep your eye on your bank account. Just be diligent, and go abroad with more money than you think you might need. It gives you a lot of much needed flexibility.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75 - 175
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I have two tips when it comes to money saving tips. First, when buying souvenirs, don’t buy them the day you see them (unless its in a spot you know you won’t return to, like another city or if you’ve traveled elsewhere during your semester). That way you aren’t wasting money on a souvenir that you thought was cool at one point, but then fell out of favor later on. Secondly, like I said earlier, go with more money than you think you might need. Running short on money abroad is terrible, mostly because then you have to start missing events and activities. I never wanted to be in a position where I had to start rejecting my friends because i couldn’t afford what they were doing. Before I left for abroad, I worked as hard as I could, saving every penny I found to make sure that I could put it to good use in Australia… It paid off.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • The Staff
  • The Resources
  • The Opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how hard it would be to come "home".