I am writing this having been back in the UK for a month now, and back in Manchester for about 2 weeks. I have just finished my first week back at uni, involving talks regarding my dissertation, introductions to my new classes and seeing friends and coursemates who also went abroad – it has been so great being able to share stories of our years away from Manchester. Amidst all this I have sometimes felt as is my year in Sydney didn’t happen, because everything here has hardly changed and when I returned, I felt the familiarity of it all so quickly.
Leaving Sydney was hard because I was leaving behind friends who I didn’t know a year ago but who had become so close to me. Whilst I was looking forward to being home and especially to seeing my family again, I knew I would miss the people I had met in Sydney and that the goodbye would be a sad one. As well as all this, I knew I would also miss living so close to the beach and going for swims and hangs in the evenings! Sydney really was good to me.
Bethan Rowsby, Geography, University of Sydney, Australia.
Whilst many of my friends who are also studying abroad are coming to the end of their semester, mine has only just taken off. I’m currently in week 5, with 8 weeks to go and then exams so I will be finished by the 26th June! Or rather I would be, if I didn’t take a class that has a field trip in July to… Indonesia! Oh, the perks of being a Geographer. I am glad as it does mean that I am able to spend more time in Australia before I have to leave (plus it gives me more time for my dissertation research that needs to be done…). Sydney has become another home for me and I’ve been here for 10 months now yet there is still so much to explore.
I knew I wasn’t going to be going back home to the UK for Christmas, which was sad but it meant I got to experience Christmas in Australia! Since I wasn’t able to spend they day with my family, I was kindly adopted into the home of one of my housemates, Rachel, who lives in Kyneton which is near Melbourne but very much not urban at all. I had a great time out in the country for a week! Continue reading “Christmas in Australia”→
Summer has well and truly kicked off here with highs of 41 degrees in Sydney! I have recently moved to a room on the third floor, and it has been so hot up here. But, the view makes up for it as the Sydney skyline is beautiful and every time I look at it I am reminded where I am.
Aside from moving rooms, which wasn’t hard as all my stuff fits into one suitcase these days, at the beginning of summer I took a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! I felt that I couldn’t go back home after being in Australia for over a year and not be able to tell people I went to the reef and then go on to say how amazing it really is. Who knows when I’ll be back on this hemisphere and who knows what will happen the the reef in the future!? I went to the reef with my friend Ellen who was keen to do an open water diving course and asked if I wanted to do it with her, and stay with her family up in Queensland. I said yes (who would say no?!) but then proceeded to freak out a bit as I realised that I’d actually have to go super deep under the water with only the air strapped to my back and that’s not exactly natural for humans. My worries were put to rest (slightly) during the first two days of the course which were spent in a classroom and pool getting used to the equipment and practicing skills. After two days of theory and pool practice we headed out for the highlight of our trip – two days on a liveaboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef. It was here we completed our 4 training dives, going up to 18m deep. Although I ended up going to 18.7m and had to eat a spoonful of vegemite for it as we’re only allowed down to 18m!
The best part of the trip was by far when Ellen and I had passed and got to go on our first actual dive by ourselves! All through the dives and snorkels we saw so many (SO MANY) beautiful fish and coral and clams , there is literally so much to see and it’s so colourful. Though we learnt that as you go deeper underwater you start to lose colours; firstly red then orange, yellow, til you are left with blues but there were still so many colours and types of fish. On our first dive on our open water ticket we saw a cleaning station where one fish was cleaning other fish. It was so good to be able to watch and actually be in the underwater reef habitat rather than on the other side of glass.
I’m really looking forward to the rest of the summer in Australia! My mum is going to be visiting in January and I’m spending Christmas with my housemate in Melbourne. Though I still find it funny every time I see a snow related Christmas decoration as we could not be further from snow!
After almost finishing my first semester here at the University of Sydney (it’s gone so quick!), now is as good a time as any to think about my experiences here in comparison to Manchester. Currently I have two exams to go until I get a 15 week long summer break which I am so keen for! And despite my looming exams, I’ve managed to get in a good amount of beach time, as the weather here is just too good not to! The two exams I have are each worth 40% of the class, which is not a lot for a final exam compared to Manchester, which may be why I am not feeling too stressed out about them. This semester I took two classes outside of Geography which have both been really interesting and I’ve learnt so much each week. The first one is an Indigenous Studies class which I would recommend to anyone going to an Australian uni to take a class in as it really opens your eyes to Australia’s history and how it’s still affecting people today. The other non-geography class I decided to take was one in Biblical Studies since I was really interested in studying the Bible from an academic perspective, and whilst the class and the assessments were nothing like I was used to, it was a great opportunity to learn and step outside of my comfort zone! Despite being a geography student, I have actually enjoyed these two classes more than my geography ones since they are so different and new to what I have studied back home. Although, I could never shake my love for geography, especially as next semester there may be an opportunity for me to go on a field trip to SE Asia!
The tutorials, referred to as tutes here are compulsory and most of the time there is 10% of your grade dedicated to your participation in them. I found this hard to get used to at first, especially since I’m not usually someone who offers my opinion all the time. In some cases the tutes worked well, however the model I think works the best is where the tutes are compulsory (if you miss more than two you fail the class) but there is no participation mark as then there is no pressure to ‘perform’ and there is still a good discussion – this was the case in my Indigenous Studies class and I found those tutes to be the best and most helpful.
One helpful thing at USyd is that all the lectures are recorded which means that if there is a timetable clash with lectures it is possible and easy to listen to the recording of one each week. Not all of my lectures were recorded in Manchester (though they might be now) so this was really helpful as I did end up having a clash on my timetable. If this happens to you, I think it depends on how you learn best, and whether or not you can make yourself listen to a recording each week; I found it hard but it worked out in the end! It’s also worth me saying that the online system at USyd is exactly the same as Manchester – both use Blackboard – so it’s really easy to navigate the system.
The actual USyd campus is pretty beautiful, as well as being huge. The main building is the Quadrangle and it gets a lot of tourists visiting! Apparently its architecture is based half on Oxford university and half on Cambridge. I have one class in there and there’s one big jacaranda tree in the quad, of which they say that if you haven’t started studying by the time the purple flowers bloom then you’re in trouble for your exams. I’ll hopefully be ok!
Upon arriving in Sydney, I was met at the airport by my friend Snow, who I actually lived with in my first year in halls when she was on exchange from Australia in Manchester! It was so great to be met with a friendly face and as I battled jet lag we explored Sydney together (she lives in Canberra) and had a long overdue catch up. I am going to visit her in Canberra soon which I am really looking forward to – most people I’ve met in Sydney make a bit of a joke about Canberra in that there isn’t much to do there but I’ve heard good things about Floriade, their spring flower festival and of course the extravagant milkshakes that went viral a couple of months go on buzzfeed! So I am very much looking forward to my trip there.
Seeing the Sydney Opera House in real life for the first time was pretty surreal as it’s so iconic, and even now whenever I see it I feel the need to take a photo of it! Another Sydney icon is the Harbour bridge, which to my surprise and excitement can be seen in the distance from the end of my road. It has become one of my favourite things; to walk down to the end of the road and around the water there, taking in the city. As I mentioned in my last post, I am living in a shared house with 7 other girls, which could not have worked out better. I’ve definitely picked up some Australian phrases since living with them, such as ‘heaps’ (loads/a lot/many), ‘defo’ (definitely) and adding ‘hey’ at the end of sentences, and we’ve had many conversations about what I consider to be ‘Australian’ and the differences in the weather compared to home.. Several days this ‘winter’ over here have been the same temperature back home where it’s summer!
After the stress of finding a place to live had been lifted, the tasks that were left for me to complete were life admin type things; getting a bank account, a phone contract and enrolling at the university, all of which went very smoothly. There were several events organised by USyd that exchange students could go to to meet other exchange students; one which I went to was a ‘Koala Breakfast’ where we had a tour round the wildlife zoo at Darling Harbour which finished with us eating breakfast surrounded by Koalas (no koalas were consumed)! Overall, my first few weeks here have been filled with meeting heaps of new people – from Australia and all over the world, planning trips (further afield than the 3.5 hour trip to Canberra – I’m heading to New Zealand at the end of September!) and getting stuck into uni life at USyd which is what my next post will probably be about.
By Bethan Rowsby (The University of Sydney, Australia)
G’day! The posting of this blog is a little late as I arrived in Sydney about two weeks ago (!!!), but here’s what I thought and felt pre-departure!
I had everything sorted; visa, health cover and my flight, everything except where I was going to live when I arrived in Sydney. Whilst this was a deliberate decision (I didn’t want to go into university accommodation due to the cost!), it was the thing I was most nervous about. I took my mind off the nerves and my looming departure date by travelling up and down the country, visiting family and friends and saying final goodbyes before I left! However, it didn’t fully hit me until the night before my flight that I was actually leaving my homes in London and Manchester for a year. And that felt awful! I was definitely excited for my trip, but at that moment I really didn’t want to leave.
Whilst I was still in Manchester, my mum had rung me and told me that she’d bought me a massive suitcase for my trip, and she wasn’t lying! I’m pretty sure I could fit myself in that case. Because I was ill before my flight (and also due to my lack of proper preparation) I ended up packing the day before and off I went hoping I had remembered everything – passport: check, sun cream: check. I for sure had the essentials.
In the lead up to leaving I researched areas in Sydney that I would want to live in, considering factors such as being close to the Uni and the general safety and reputation of the areas. I found there are plenty of great suburbs to live in in Sydney and I’m really happy with where I’ve ended up – in a shared house near the Uni with 7 other girls who are super nice ♥.
I’ll be posting again in the next few weeks as I settle into Sydney and uni begins!