The University of Sydney

So, I checked out the University campuses while I was here and they have some beautiful facilities for you to utilize while you are here.  The campus, much like TAMU, is broken into a few different locations based on courses and units of study. The main campus will house classes in Architecture, Sciences, Literature and Languages, and other core units of study. For those students interested in Communications classes, Digital Media or Design, classes are housed (much like TAMU) in their Architecture Department. When you are selecting classes, the Sydney Study Abroad team and myself, can help you determine what classes are most appropriate and how they will fit into your degree. The main campus houses the largest library in the southern hemisphere, which includes study spaces and computer access for students. Within their quad, which they have dubbed “Hogwarts” because of the architecture and design of the building, is a small museum that is currently home to a Lego Pompeii exhibit, Egyptian mummies, and pieces of Australian history as well. The campus has sports fields, tennis course, and just next door a fitness center for students wanting to stay in shape. If you choose to live in the guaranteed housing at UrbanNest, you will have access to your own private fitness center, on site laundry, a courtyard with 90 foot screen for outdoor movies, an indoor movie room, and a “procrastination” room filled with all the latest video game consoles and TVs.

One of the satellite campus around Sydney is located near the harbor and houses their College of Fine Arts. Here students can explore various paint, sculpting, photography, and glass mediums to create visual art. They also teach courses on the preformative nature of art, performance art, and artistic theory models. The campus buildings were formerly an asylum for Australia’s insane and they have retrofitted many of the old spaces to accommodate the needs of classes, including Grad student offices in the old confinement cells! The buildings are made entirely of Australian sand stone and are beautiful to look at, especially considering the views of the harbor from all around the campus. The space includes a small library which includes media rentals and a film viewing room and a small student café and study space which is painted each year by a student through an art contest.

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Lego Pompeii
Lego Pompeii

Learning the Lingo

Here in Australia they do speak English but they have their own terms for lots of things. While on study abroad to any country you should try to learn their lingo and acclimate to their way of doing things. Here are few of my favorite words, phrases, and random differences so far:

  • “Uni”- here in Sydney it is not University, but Uni.
  • “Pram”- this is a baby stroller…and they are everywhere
  • “Flat”= Apartment
  • Coffee…this is a hard one, they drink coffee but you can’t order just coffee- it is a Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino, or my personal favorite the Flat White… be adventurous and try something new, its all better than Starbucks!
  • Football= Australian Football or sometimes soccer… While you are here, check out the sporting events and try to learn something new…Rugby, Cricket, Australian Football are all popular sports.
  • “Its just a short walk”…everyone will tell you its just a short walk, to an Australian short is under five miles or so! Be prepared to walk A LOT! I would suggest getting used to the bus and train system that runs through town if you are not keen on walking.
  • “Opal Card”- this is your bus pass, you can buy one at any convenience store (they still have 7/11s!)
  • “Tap on/Tap off”- When you get on or off any bus, train, or ferry you “tap” your opal card against a little pad and it deducts your fare. It reminds me of speed pay with your credit card in the US. Just be sure you have enough on your card for your fare before boarding…you can usually reload the card in any convenience store or bus/train station lobby.
  • “Hotel”- You will see small hotels around town, many are really bars with a few rooms to rent if you can’t make it home.
    • **A note on alcohol in Australia…the drinking age is 18 and there are bars on the Urni campus. Students are expected to be responsible and think when you drink. Be smart, be safe, and remember…you are here to study and are here representing Texas A&M and the Aggie Core Values
    • ***That said…you should still have a great, safe time!

When you get to the Uni they will provide you with lots of details about the city, where you will be staying, and things to do in Australia. Before classes start they offer surf lessons (more like surf weekend excursions) and tours through the wine country. They encourage you to adventure on the weekends, try new things while you are here. The city is full of awesome things to do!

Tips for your Travels

While I am certain no travel expert, in my first few days abroad these were a few of the things I wish someone had told me:

  • Direct flights are worth the extra money!
  • Pack smart…bags get heavy quickly…remember you can do laundry
  • Carry-on bags…be reasonable and only bring the necessities.
  • Airport security…no liquids, no lotion, if you get stopped for an extra check just remain calm and do what they say!
  • While on the plane…SLEEP! The more you sleep the easier it will be to adjust while abroad.
  • Stay hydrated…drink as much water as possible during the traveling and overcoming jet lag. Coffee is your friend, but water is a must also.
  • Be patient…things may not always be smooth or easy but be patient and calm and it will all work out.