“Hi there, how are you?”, “I’m good, thanks. How are you?”, “Not bad, not bad”, That’s how your average conversation will start in Sydney, Australia. From grocery stores to hairdressers and to students, they all start like that.
The University of Technology Sydney
I think it was and the end of 2015 that a friend of mine, Sebastiaan Boer, and I where sure we wanted to go on an exchange program. Therefore, we went to Henny Houben and got a list of universities that we could go to. Pretty much on the top of the list was ‘Australia, Sydney’ and as soon as we saw that name, we were sold.
As a part of my master Structural Design at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, I decided to do my free electives part abroad. Reason for Sydney: the location. To be honest with you, I skipped the part of doing research on the university that you’re going to. All I knew, was that the connection with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) was new, and not many students had gone there before me. However, when I got there, it turned out that the UTS was one of the best young universities of Australia and belonged in the top of the best 250 universities in the world: guess I made the right choice there. Besides this, the semester I joined had the most international students so far. Therefore, the people I got to know came from all over the world. Getting to know these people was a lot more easy than I thought. Really, you cannot avoid getting to know people. The introduction week made sure of that. In addition, the university turned out to have a group-focused educational system. This focus means that you constantly work together with people from different backgrounds, which makes your study way more interesting. Also the setting of a lecture was a bit different. I never had a lecture in a ‘classical’ lecture room, with 200 chairs and some big chalkboards in front. My lectures were given in rooms where tables were put in a block formation with projectors all around you, so you could discuss and work as a group.
Well, I can tell you more about the university, the courses I did and the reports I wrote, but another, way more interesting aspect of Australia, is it’s nature. Believe me when I say, they have everything there. Just within Sydney there is the lovely city district with shops and parks where you can walk around and chill all day, the wharfs between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, where you can take a ferry to the north side of the city, the incredible beaches, the Blue Mountians national park… I think you get the idea. The best thing about going on an exchange to such a place, is that you meet a lot of people from your age, which are mostly eager to travel and explore more and more. As a result, my weekends were never boring; there was always a new beach, a new district, a new park to explore and spent the weekend.
With our spring break, which lasted a week, we made a trip to
Melbourne with 12 people (!). To do so, we rented two of those big campervans where you can sleep, cook, shower and drink lots of beers in (if you’re not driving of course). Within these eight days of travel we did a lot of driving, and had a lot of fun together. Camping spots were everywhere, the mood was great, barbeques happened and kangaroos where spotted.
After my semester, Sebastiaan and I made our dream come true. We bought our own van, and drove all the way to Cairns (north Australia)
to make our way back down again in six weeks along the east coast. This is where we experienced the diversity of a country like Australia: wet rainforest, smelly bushfires, breathtaking beaches, amazing waterfalls, beautiful islands, weird creatures, dessert fields and a lot of truly astonishing views. Of course, especially in Sydney, things are not cheap or for free. However, with respect to traveling: you spend money, but you will always return richer.
For all students who are in doubt or have questions concerning an exchange program in Sydney, please feel free to contact me in any way you can (there are plenty of tools these days). I am more than happy to charge my experience and answer any questions you might have.
Thanks a lot for reading!