Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
G’day mates! I studied abroad in Sydney Australia at Macquarie Uni in the spring of 2007. I had some imaginary ideas of what to expect, but still I kept an open mind. I’d like to give you a small taste of my experience with classes, accommodation and activities that I got involved in Down Under.
The classes were not easy or difficult per se. What I really had to get used to was the teaching style. Most of my classes were huge in number and I had to attend tutorials. This wasn’t the typical tutorial where you got extra help from a tutor is you were struggling with the subject. A tutorial at uni was a small group session that was compulsory since it was a part of the grade and attendance. Group discussions and presentations were done during the tutorial and grades were assigned. I found that this was a great way to mingle with people and a chance to participate in class discussion since it was a smaller number of people present.
I lived off-campus in a house, but it was just a short walk away from the university. I roomed with two other international students who I became really great friends with. This was a great way for me to learn more about their background and culture and a chance to share mine with them as well. We sampled dishes from each other’s country and compared and contrasted the way we spoke and dressed. One of my roommates was from a particular country that the media portrays in a particular manner, but I got a firsthand perspective of how things really are in that country.
Aussie Culture & Internship
One of the things that I liked most about studying in Australia was their use of local slang. It was a bit confusing at first, but with time I got the hang of it by talking to “mates” and co-workers at my internship site. I learned that a “barbie” is not a plastic doll and a “chook” was something to be eaten. Through my internship I came to the realization that almost every word Aussies use is abbreviated. The internship was a great way for me to gain experience working in an international business environment as well as gaining academic credit.
My Summer in Thailand
After the semester, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to represent Macquarie uni in Thailand as part of a volunteer relief trip. I traveled to the area that was hardest hit by the tsunami and I helped to construct houses as well as taught English to children and adults. The icing on the cake was attending briefings in Bangkok (particularly the one hosted by the United Nations). It made me realize just how much I wanted to travel and work in an international environment, perhaps as a diplomat myself. I had the experience of not just speaking Thai, but learning to cook traditional dishes as well.
All in all, I had a FANTASTIC experience with absolutely no regrets (challenges included). The hardest part about this experience was leaving! I wish I could’ve extended it to another semester, but at least I got the opportunity. Studying abroad has taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. It was an EMPOWERING experience for me to be able to function outside of my comfort zone and adapt to different cultures. If I have the opportunity to do it again, I will do it in a heartbeat. I still stay in touch with all the people I met and befriended because of this experience.
My advice to you: DO IT!