Building Connections and New Habits

By Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia

Looking back on my study abroad year it’s safe to say I can identify a few different chapters as well as some core highlights.

Settling into Sydney

The first few weeks of exchange were super fun, but overwhelming. There was so much to see and do, while trying to make friends and meet as many people as possible. This meant I didn’t find myself getting too homesick as I was constantly on the go, which I can look back on and say was a good thing.

New Travels

After the first couple of months settling in and starting uni, the first study break meant booking our first trip out of Sydney. This was a whole new experience, as I had never travelled in hostels before but as a big group this was the best decision. Having only spent time with other exchange friends, travelling up the East Coast meant meeting a lot of backpackers and hearing about their travels. This has only motivated me more to come back to Australia and travel!

Aussie Summer

Looking back, December-February was by far my favourite time in Australia and I highly recommend staying within the country for this part of summer, rather than travelling to surrounding countries. While Sydney is always busy and vibrant, summer was especially fun. Living in Coogee Beach meant everyday was spent at the beach, whether that was a half an hour swim before work, or a full day. The beaches like Coogee and Bondi are also home to loads of restaurants and bars, so you’d often send the day and night around the beaches.


By this point we were over half way through our exchange, and way less hectic compared to the first month. Now, my part-time job co-workers had become like family and I felt like I had a core life and routine in Sydney. Me and my friend heard about and started attending the 440 Run Club in Bronte on a Saturday morning. You meet at 4:30am and start running at 5am as it starts to get light. Everyone then has a group photo, a swim in the sea, and coffee together. I am not much of a runner but there are no expectations in this community and because of the ‘loop’ nature of the run, you can never be at the back. In fact, a lot of people would walk the course based on how they were feeling. But my biggest regret is not going along sooner, because the community is full of incredible people and they really support you. I would definitely recommend going along towards the start of your exchange or finding a similar group outside of university.

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