By Miriam Westbrook (University of Sydney, Australia).
It’s already week 3 of my first semester here at the University of Sydney and I can’t believe that I’ve been here over a month! Orientation week was great if a little hectic, with so many international students from all over the world to meet and a new university to get accustomed to. But now I’ve started lectures and tutorials things have really settled down; so far the Australian university system seems very similar to our own in Manchester, with lectures, tutorials and some computer modelling practicals. The campus is beautiful though, and as much as I love Manchester it just doesn’t compare. Even though it’s supposed to be winter here the sun is shining almost every day and you can spot the other British exchange students a mile away – sitting in shorts and flip flops on the reclining chairs on the University lawns while Aussies huddle up in jumpers and Uggs.
I’ve really enjoyed my studies so far because I’ve had the opportunity to branch out a bit, especially with my Australian history module which is a really great introduction to the country. I’m also getting used to the confusion on people’s faces when I tell them that my degree is in geography, a subject that doesn’t really exist here – I’m stuck somewhere between earth sciences and sociology!
It’s not all about lectures though, I’ve managed to find a waitressing job at a restaurant in Bondi so I can start saving up and planning for the summer (at Christmas!). Last Sunday was the City2Surf charity run, 14km from the city centre to Bondi Beach so the restaurant and the whole area was packed with buzzing runners who’d just finished and were relaxing by the beach. The weather was so beautiful and I managed to catch some of the race that went by my road before work.
The international student department have been running social events for exchange students for us to get to know each other and the city. The first of these was the Welcome to Sydney party at one of the many bars on campus, which from a slightly awkward start turned into a pretty crazy night! There was also the harbour cruise party, which had the added benefit of amazing views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from the deck. Everyone is so friendly and interesting that it’s been easy to make friends, but I’m still finding myself sticking to the English and European students – hopefully I’ll branch out a bit more as the semester goes on!