See you soon, Syd.

Bhumi Shukla, University of Sydney

I feel like I have overused the phrase “Australia has really changed me” but I can’t stress this enough. Studying abroad has given me a new perspective on life, a new passion to travel and new traits to enhance my character.

Although I returned home quite a while back, I still feel connected to Australia. Even in simple conversations, you are bound to bring up the fact you were abroad – “When I was abroad…” “In Australia we had…” Will people get tired of hearing your stories? Absolutely. Will that stop you from telling your stories? Absolutely not.

The memories you create and the people you meet will always stay with you on your journey. Some of my best friends I made on my time abroad still hold the same value in my life. (Thank you Steve Jobs for FaceTime!) Of course studying abroad means you literally have to study abroad, but making time to socialise and really step out of my comfort zone has helped me in life in more ways you can imagine. For example, I spent part of my Summer 2018 in Singapore with a friend from exchange who was local to the place and offered me a place to stay as well as be the best tour guide you could have! You never know how the people you could meet abroad can help you in life. And vice versa!

I can’t say studying abroad has been all fun and games – because it hasn’t. There were days when I would get homesick, days when I felt down, and days when I was just uncomfortable. But that’s okay! This was all part of the process. This was what contributed to change me as a person. This was what made me adapt.

When you are abroad, you will have times when you feel lonely, the best way to overcome this is keep in touch with your family & friends back home. I can’t stress this enough! I also realised that keeping busy helps! As an exchange student, I met heaps of other exchange students on the same boat as me (tip: ‘heaps’ is Aussie for lots!). For me, spending time with these people and sharing stories really helped me feel better. It’s all about patience and baby steps.

I truly can’t put into words how lucky I feel to have lived my dreams. Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef? Check! Feeding kangaroos? Triple check! Experiencing these things at the time doesn’t feel so overwhelming, but over time looking back at the pictures really humbles you and you become grateful for this opportunity you had been given.

I strongly recommend the Study Abroad programme, I promise you it will all be worth it.

Thank you for the memories Sydney. I can’t wait to see you again. 

 

 

 

SydNYE

University of Sydney
Bhumi Shukla

My semester at USyd has ended, but I chose to stay here over Christmas and New Year’s. Why? Just look.

IMG_4854
NYE Sydney Fireworks at Harbour Bridge

I was lucky enough to view the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney from the Opera House itself.  Spending 16 hours in the 30 degree heat – yes 16 hours – getting sunburnt, constant naps, few fights, camping outside of the Opera House (literally), it was all worth the struggle at midnight.

The first set of fireworks start around 9pm that last around 10-15 minutes. A “pre” celebration I guess. The second set of fireworks commence at midnight, exactly at 12am as we enter January 1st. Counting down with millions of people from all over the world was an incredible feeling itself. NYE in Sydney is probably the first most watched celebration that occurs around the world (sorry Auckland) and to witness it in person is a once in a lifetime opportunity for sure.

I knew from the start that I wanted to watch the Sydney fireworks. Word of advice: you must start planning at least a month ahead of the date. Figure out your vantage point for viewing that works best for you. You can get all the information you need at this website: https://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/ . If you aren’t very good at planning and have a bit of cash to spend, lots of points around the Harbour Bridge offer a guranteed viewing spot that you can buy, such as restaurants around the harbour will have a “New year’s dining experience” offer. Although, they can be very pricey! Of course, like most people, I wanted to get the ultimate NYE experience. After a bit of research, I decided my ultimate spot to view the fireworks, was at the Opera house itself. The Opera outside house has a straight view of the Harbour Bridge (and it’s free!). I also highly recommend Mrs. Macquire’s Point – it has the view of the Harbour Bridge AND the Opera House. Both spots are very instagram worthy! To get any of the popular spots on NYE, you have to wake up early. Camping is forbidden at the points and points of entry open to the public at around 8am – however, the queue for entry is waaaayyyyyyy too long by then already.

My day started at 7am on 31st December. I had packed all my lunch and dinner preparations for NYE in advanced the day before. I left my room at around 7:30am and got to the Opera House by 7:50am (as entry was at 8am). When I reached, the queue to get in was already so huge! I was so scared we wouldn’t find a spot. About an hour after waiting, we made our way through to security (no alcohol allowed guys, sorry) and tried spot hunting 30 minutes after. All the good spots were unfortunately taken, but we kept walking around and not giving up hope. Luckily, my friend and I spotted this one teeny tiny space right IN FRONT of where the harbour bridge was, enough to fit us both. We literally ran for it and wouldn’t move. We literally camped outside of the Opera House, in front of the Harbour Bridge – surreal.

IMG_4645 (1)
My view of the Opera House when I was lying down to take a nap (it was a long day).

Spending 16 hours in the sun is no play in the park, especially if the weather is not what you expect. The weather was scheduled to rain, so of course I brought an umbrella, with high temperatures of 25 degrees. But that’s not what it was. Around midday, the sun appeared out of nowhere and the temperature was probably around 30+ degrees. This probably lasted all day until the evening. And of course, I forgot to pack sunscreen! Luckily, my friend had some, so I guess I didn’t get THAT burnt.
Top tip: Bring lots of water and fluids to stay hydrated, an umbrella and sunscreen. Don’t trust the Sydney weather.

The whole experience was definitely worth it. My advice is to plan early, pack early and embrace the entire experience because it’s definitely worth the eight tonnes of fireworks.

Last but not least, Happy New Year from Sydney!

Where are the Aussies?

manly
View from ferry in Sydney

It’s been 1 month & 4 days since uni started and I’m still not used to things. But first, here’s some accommodation in Sydney tips:

  • Don’t settle for the first thing you find, make sure you look around as fast as you can and as careful as you can because a lot of people are in the same situation as you.
  • Join waitlists for cheap student accommodation – lots of affordable(ish) on campus accom will have been “sold out” and they will put you on a waiting list. More often than not you will receive a room within a week! I’m currently staying at the Sydney University Village (probably the cheapest on campus accommodation for an exchange student); it’s ran by Campus Living Village which we have in Manchester too!
  • Share houses are much cheaper! If you find on campus living too expensive (which I sadly do), it’s fairly easy to find a room in a share house within 2 weeks. Many exchange students usually take up this option.

One really weird thing about Sydney – hardly any domestic students live out! Where are the Aussies? The answer to this is that students in Aus prefer to stay at home – this is due to how expensive accom is and also the distance. Everything in Aus is so far, if you went to a uni in a different city, there’s an 96% change you’ll have to catch a flight back & forth.

Transport

central
View from local train

Aus transport is so great and probably one of my fave things about the city. The buses here are just like the ones in Manchester (but no free wifi, boohoo) and the trains are extremely cool – the seats can move! The University is in such a great location that you have easy access to any part of the city – which you’re going to need because Sydney is soooooo big.

If you’re an exchange student, you’re eligible for a concession Opal card (this is a travel card where you can keep topping up instead of paying coins every time). A concession card means you get a 50% discount on travel, woohoo!!!

A transport tip: keep your Sundays free, unlimited travel for $2.60!!!

Get, Set, Sydney!

Bhumi Shukla (University of Sydney, Australia)

After months of waiting, the time has finally come. I can officially say that I’m off to Australia to start my new adventure. Here’s to new beginnings!

Semesters in Australia are the complete opposite to semesters in the UK. When it’s their Semester 2, it’s our Semester 1 (but it starts late July – so it’s a bit earlier).

I’m all packed & ready to go! Although, I’m not looking forward to my 25 hour journey to get there. I still haven’t sorted out my accommodation, hence I’m leaving 2 weeks earlier than uni starts to leave plenty of time to find something. From reading previous blogs, I learnt that finding accommodation in Australia was relatively easy – especially through different sites, such as flatmates.com! Initially, I’ll be staying in a hostel near USyd (that’s the local nickname for University of Sydney, sort of like UoM). Hopefully I’m able to find something relatively cheap as accommodation in Sydney can be very expensive.

One thing I’ve packed for my 6 months there is lots of sweaters! I’m going there during Australian winter, which is basically around the same temperatures as British summer, but I shouldn’t underestimate the power of the wind.

A really great thing about USyd is that it offers a wide range of activities for Exchange students. You can partake in things such climbing the Harbour Bridge and Breakfast with Koalas for really, really discounted prices. Also, in term of academics, USyd offers Exchange students a rare opportunity to apply for internships!

My eagerness to get to Australia is already killing me and I cannot wait to post all the pictures from my time abroad to make all my friends back in Manchester very jealous.

I’m ready for you, Sydney. See you very, very soon!