I started the exchange in the same boat as everyone, nervous but excited about the opportunities. At the airport the classic apprehensions of will I make any friends, will I enjoy myself creeped in but I am so glad that these did not stop me from going. Walking off the plane after a very long journey to Sydney and arriving at my accommodation I was ready for what was in store for me.
Before leaving I had booked myself onto a surf camp for the first weekend. Despite getting slightly sunburnt on the first day, it was a great weekend for both the surfing; I actually managed to stand up but also for meeting new people also on exchange programmes.
Arriving the week before O-week (there fresher’s week) allowed me to settle in and find my way around Sydney. The accommodation block that I stayed in, called QMB, put on themed nights throughout O-week this is where you could meet new people. A particular highlight was floor fest were there were different challenges on each of the floors for example walking around with drunk googles on trying not to knock over cones. After a fun O-week of new experiences in a city was over it was then down to classes and studying again.
Throughout the semester I tried to balance studying hard as had assignments due almost every week whilst also allowing me time to explore. A great initiative in the Sydney area was travel being capped at $2.60 on Sundays, and so this was a cheap way of being able to explore the area, with there being so much to explore. I did some different activities that I wouldn’t have ordinarily done back in Southampton, like waking up at half four in the morning to attend the ANZAC dawn service. It was such a surreal experience being in the quadrangle and as the service underway it is getting light something I will remember for a long time. I walked the Coogee to Bondi when I first got to Sydney, which is a very pleasant walk but when someone said to do it at sunrise I was initially hesitant, waking up early isn’t necessarily my cup of tea but am so glad I did it and well worth getting up for.
It’s these sorts of things that although not the classic tourist highlights in Sydney like the Opera house but doing these with people that you enjoy spending time with makes the whole experience great.
Everyone says it is hard to leave, but you never realise quite how hard it is and I was only over there for a semester. This is often in the moment as you have shared different experiences exploring a new country with these people and when you get home, even when I am writing this blog you are reminded of the good times. This is not to say that everything you do on an exchange will be fun as you still have to study hard and will inevitably get the ups and downs from being away from home, but I am so glad that I applied and thank the study abroad team for allowing me the opportunity.
The pictures below show some of the highlights of the time abroad.