Katherine Yau, Sydney Internship

Bondi BeachI traded my summer for winter this year and thus began the adventures abroad in Sydney, Australia! If you’re on the fence for studying abroad for any reason, just DO IT. This summer I saw the best sights, met great people, and enjoyed the Australian accent.

My program was the Sydney Internship Program, and I interned at The Festivalists, which is a nonprofit arts and culture organization sponsored by the City of Sydney. The Festivalists mostly coordinates film festivals and specialized events at museums. As the Marketing and Sponsorship intern, I helped the coordinator do market research, develop mailing lists, and I even got to watch 13 of the movies they were going to screen at their upcoming film festival! Alongside my internship I took EC464 “The Pacific Rim – Economic and Political Orders,” and every class was like story time. Professor Mack is great and very worldly. Combined, the class and the internship kept me pretty busy, so plan your weekends with purpose to optimize time for exploring!

Although the culture shock was not as intense as it would have been in a non-English speaking country, studying abroad definitely broadened my perspective. It was neat and sometimes challenging to see the nuances in culture and lifestyle. Australians definitely have their lingo; you’ll hear “good on ya” for a job well done or hear cookies referred to as “biscuits.” (p.s. Eat lots of Tim Tams.) Don’t be surprised if strangers just strike up conversation with you, or when a car stops about an inch away from you as you’re crossing the street. Turns out, the buttons you push to cross the street are actually useful. Overall, though, it was humbling to learn that the American way is neither the only way nor the superior way. In Australia, I became the “foreigner.” I never got used to being asked where I’m from because I had an “American accent.” These experiences are subtle, yet meaningful, and they can only be found abroad.

Living in the city was great; to me, Sydney is this awesome fusion of European, Asian, and even American cultures. The BU Sydney Centre, where you’ll be living and taking classes, is so close to major stations, Sushi Hub (definitely go here), and even the grocery store. Definitely explore the “must sees” of Sydney, such as the Opera House, botanical gardens, and the museums, but don’t forget to spend time in the suburbs. Glebe, Surry Hills, and Darlinghurst are where it’s at. You’ll lose track of time as you explore the quirky eateries, hip bars, and unique boutiques that these suburbs have to offer.

Oh, and one final thing: make the trip up to Cairns, which is where you can find the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a must-see, and Cairns will make you fall head over heels for Australia. And definitely, definitely do Uncle Brian’s Rainforest Tour when you’re up there. You’ll see the beautiful rainforest, splash in waterfalls, and sing car-trip songs until you lose your voice. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in one day!

I picked Australia because I wanted to see some amazing nature sights, experience a cool city, and because I thought to myself, “I’ll probably never get another chance to go to Australia!” However, now that I’ve been to Australia, I know I’ll be going back someday. Pick Sydney, and have safe travels!