By Amy Spillard (University of Sydney, Australia).
Having finished second year exams in June, I couldn’t wait to spend the summer with my friends and family making the most of the time I had left with them before jetting off for my year abroad. When I signed up to study abroad, I had heard the rumors that some foreign universities started as early as June and July, but I thought – that won’t be me! I’ll have a relaxing summer at home, celebrate my birthday, maybe have a holiday – but I couldn’t have been more wrong!!
My top two choices when signing up for study abroad were both in Canada, so when I saw ‘The University of Sydney’ next to my name, the first thing I did was burst in to tears and phone my dad! Looking back it seems so stupid, but Sydney just seemed that bit further than Vancouver, and the prospect of going on my own and being so far away from home suddenly became so much more daunting. Whereas before, applying to study abroad for a year just seemed like a nice idea, it had now finally hit me that I actually had a place at a foreign university, and that place was as far away from home as it gets (16,983 miles!).
Then the news that Australian uni starts in July… the rumors were true!! So that left me a mere three and a half weeks to get everything sorted and squeeze in every last minute I could with family and friends. I can honestly say I have never had so much to do in such a short amount of time – book flights, sort out bank accounts, buy insurance, have a leaving party, and pack (which of course happened in the last few hours before dashing to Heathrow!!). Even when I was sat on the plane, or wandering round Singapore airport during my stopover, I still don’t think it had really sunk in what was actually happening.
Even now, over a month into my time here in Sydney, I still feel like I’m on holiday and I’ll be jumping on a flight back to the UK soon, ready for my third year in Manchester! The time I’ve spent here has been incredible – an absolute rollercoaster; a million times more difficult, but more unbelievable, then I ever could have imagined. I spent my first week in an apartment in Zetland, in a little touristy bubble, completely oblivious as to how the next month would pan out. The following three weeks I lived out of a hostel, which was a great way to meet people, but I was there for so long that everyone I met would eventually leave to continue their travels – I was desperate to find a home where I could settle in and be surrounded by a secure group of friends. After viewing every single flat, house and apartment in Sydney, and just as I was giving up, I found a perfect terraced house in Newtown, which I now share with two crazy Australian first years – it honestly couldn’t have worked out better.
I feel like I’ve already seen so much of what Sydney has to offer, and being friends with Australians is by far the best way to see the city – they know the best restaurants, all of the secret hidden bars and the best things to do. I’ve fallen in love with paddleboarding, got lost whilst sailing, seen aboriginal dancing, had picnics with kangaroos, done a million different beach walks – and it’s only my first month here. I keep asking when things are going to settle down, and when I’ll get a day off – but I have a feeling that’s not going to happen till I’m back home in Manchester, and I couldn’t be happier!!