Finally down under! My first impressions of Sydney

By Vitoria Spoorenberg, University of Sydney

It’s hard to believe that today marks exactly five weeks since I landed in Sydney.

The day I flew to Sydney was bitter-sweet. Naturally, I was nervous and sad to be leaving my family and friends but I was equally excited to start my semester abroad.

Soon after I arrived, it become apparent that I had no reason to be nervous. It surprised me how friendly and welcoming everyone was at my accommodation. Everyone is friends with everyone and there’s no real ‘groups’ or ‘cliques’ which is very different to my halls experience in Manchester.

Most of the students who live in my accommodation are also exchange students which I have really enjoyed because everyone wants to discover new places and make the most of their time abroad.

I was surprised at just how versatile Sydney is. Sydney is a mixture of beaches and laid-back vibes with the hustle of a big city. There’s also a harbour and a botanical garden tucked away in the center of the city. Only a short train ride away, you’ll also find amazing national parks such as the Blue Mountains.

Darling Harbour
Bondi Beach

What I love the most about Sydney though, so far, are the beaches. It’s such a luxury to be so close to ocean and be able to chill on the beach on the weekends.

Sydney puts on amazing events throughout the year. To name a few, I’ve been to an outdoor film festival, food markets and the Mardi Gras parade. Other highlights include  eating breakfast with koalas and a cruise through the Sydney Harbour. The cruise was such a special way to see the city and we passed right by the Opera house. That’s when it really ‘clicked’ that I would be living in Sydney for the next few months.

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Easing into lessons was a bit harder than I expected. I assumed that the Politics department at USyd would be quite similar to Manchester but the assessment methods are types of essays I have never done before. The teaching style is also quite different. The lectures aren’t as big as in Manchester. Only 20 students are enrolled into one of my courses. At first, these changes were a bit overwhelming but now I’m determined to tackle the academic differences and I know the tutors will be there to help me.

It has been interesting to learn more about Australian politics and to observe their point of view on international politics. They certainly have a lot of opinions on Brexit!

I have swapped the Magic Bus for a 15-minute walk to uni. The daily walks have given me plenty of time to think about my time in Sydney so far. The main thing that I’ve reflected on is just how grateful I am for the opportunity to go on exchange and how quickly the time is going to pass. I want to soak up every moment and never take it for granted that I’m here. I’ve already made some incredible memories, met amazing people and seen beautiful places.

University of Sydney Campus

I don’t want to skip over the fact that some days I miss home just that little bit more. Sometimes I wish I could be sharing this experience with my family and friends. However, you learn something new with every obstacle you overcome alone. You grow from having to put yourself out there to meet new people or having to navigate a new campus. I think that’s what makes studying abroad such a valuable experience.

My tutorial reading is waiting for me so I’m going to wrap up this blog post here but feel free to message me on Facebook or send me an email ( if you have any questions about the University of Sydney – I’d be more than happy to help!




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