An experience I'll cherish for the rest of my life October 14, 2020

By (Neurobiology and Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Madison) - abroad from 02/05/2020 to 05/14/2020 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 learned a lot about my willingness to jump into deep waters (literally and figuratively). I challenged myself, I tried new foods, I made lifelong friends, and I learned what it means to represent your culture while learn about one different than your own. I’m so proud of myself for sticking with the decision to study abroad and making it work with my academic career.

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.

The educational experience that I received at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia was absolutely incredible. Being a neurobiology and psychology double major at my home institution (UW-Madison) I was unsure whether or not study abroad would be possible for fear that relevant science-based courses would not be offered. I ended up enrolling in a very fascinating course on the psychobiology of memory and motivation. My professor presented the lectures in the format of teaching us about where animal research studies currently stand on the topic of studying brain mechanisms involved in memory. I was thoroughly impressed by the extent to which we dove into material in class, and I also really enjoyed the lab component I participated in where we got to work with live rats conducting various experiments. As for the other courses, I took two humanities based literature and english courses that fulfilled requirements for my major back at home. I enjoyed discussing literary works that concentrated on global culture and conventions. All in all, UNSW is THE school to attend in Sydney.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration delivered through my program was phenomenal. Obviously, while studying abroad a big concern is whether or not you will be able to speak with someone about whatever concern it is that you have. Campus administration at UNSW was friendly and accommodating and the TEAN (the education abroad network) administration team was constantly available for me when I had questions about planning and organizing my academic interests, travel interests and making sure that I had all relevant documents and payments fulfilled.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived on an on-campus apartment style housing complex that was called Barker Street housing. I lived with fellow American students who were studying abroad through the same program as me. We were very pleased with the cleanliness of our living space, dining space and kitchen space. Additionally, once a week a university employee would come in and clean our apartment thoroughly. The bathroom consisted of two stalls, 3 sinks and two showers in a dorm-style arrangement. Our location was great too because the bus stop leading to Coogee beach was right outside our front door. TEAN organized everything with housing so when we landed in Australia they provided us with all the things we needed to move in quick and easily. I even had a room change request and the TEAN representative on our program was able to help me facilitate that with the university's housing office.

* Food:

The food offered at UNSW is exceptional. There are endless options in the dining facilities as well as restaurants and grocery stores conveniently around the campus area. There is a big asian influence in Sydney which I really enjoyed with multiple food options. I also can't forget to mention the food that we ate at the TEAN orientation program in Cairns. The buffet-style breakfast, lunch and dinner we ate at the five-star Rylie Hotel was delightful. I wish I could eat like a king everyday like I did there.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While studying abroad I felt well integrated with the local communities and culture in Australia. The people could not have been nicer frankly. My American friends and I noted that politeness and friendliness in general are two qualities that are priorities for Australians. I had very enriching conversations with Uber drivers (who I believe in America can be a little standoffish at times. Students at the university and locals I would encounter while at beaches, restaurants and sightseeing spots were very friendly as well and willing to get to know me and help me out with any inquiries that I had. TEAN did a really great job assimilating us into the culture. The orientation program provided a chance to learn about some of the basic differences between American and Australian culture, so I was better prepared when I arrived at UNSW.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Fortunately, I personally did not have an encounter with any health care services while I was abroad, but one of my good friends Kalvin was admitted to a hospital after he sustained an injury to the face. He was initially worried about the cost of riding in the ambulance, but was surprised to hear that Australia and New Zealand’s public hospital care is subsidized by the government. Kalvin was safely cared for and returned home that night. They really do have everything figured out in Australia and New Zealand. The TEAN representatives with us at the time made sure Kalvin was properly taken care of and transported him back to our lodge in the early hours of the morning.

* Safety:

TEAN ensured that there were constant efforts to maintain a safe atmosphere throughout our entire time abroad. Safety protocols were specifically outlined in the orientation as well as a study abroad safety course that I was required to take through my home institution (UW-Madison). One of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give to prospective students in regards to safety in Australia is wearing sunscreen. There is saying there that if you don’t wear at least SPF-50 you might as well not wear sunscreen. The UV radiation is powerful! It really isn't fun to deal with a nasty sunburn. Additionally, for safety purposes in the water, making sure to follow lifeguard guidelines is extremely vital. The Pacific Ocean is much stronger than even the best of swimmers. If you don’t believe me watch “Bondi Rescue” on youtube. Lastly, making sure to stick in groups when exploring towns, hiking paths and campus is very important, so you have someone to help you if you need the assistance.

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

TEAN is by far the best program coordinating company when it comes to planning and enjoying your time abroad. They made my experience life-changing and unforgettable. I'm forever in grateful appreciation for The Education Abroad Network.

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 is very doable to maintain a certain budget while in Australia. Obviously, some of the tourist sites and activities cost a little extra, but that being said there are still endless places to go and things to do that don't require deep pockets.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent about $150-300 per week (this includes big expenses like sky diving and bungee jumping and flights around Australia)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would recommend setting a budget of how much you want to spend before you leave. Once you get to the country there will be a lot of temptations to do various activities, but if you keep a detailed list of what you "definitely want to do" and "sort of want to do" then you will be able to make more informed financial decisions.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • The people I met
  • Great Barrier Reef day (orientation in Cairns)
  • Bungee Jumping (New Zealand excursion)
* What could be improved?
  • There really is not much I would change. Obviously, it was a bummer that my program was ceased early due to American student being recalled once the global pandemic revved up in March, but this was definitely not in anyone's control. I applaud TEAN for making sure me and my friends got home safely
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had gone to more places considering I now know our program got cancelled early. Wake up with intention! Get on the plane, find some friends and explore everything Australia has to offer!!!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.