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Surfing the Waves: My Journey to Australia

Exploring new cultures, meeting new people, and stepping out of your comfort zone – these are all things I wanted to do when I decided to embark on a study abroad semester at UTS during the spring semester of 2023. I chose UTS mainly because of its location; being situated in central Sydney provides a great opportunity to explore the entire city. Furthermore, UTS is one of the top 90 universities in the world. Before my adventure began, UTS offered an online module called "Culture Connect." Within this course, I learned various information about Australia, including fun facts and useful tips to prepare for my trip.

After I arrived in Sydney, I initially struggled with jetlag, but as the orientation week began on my fourth day, I started to adapt to the time difference. During the orientation week, many events were organized to help new students settle into the university and connect with others. One particularly enjoyable event was UTS O'Day, where numerous clubs presented themselves and offered plenty of freebies. When the study period started, the HELPS Program provided opportunities to improve and practice English skills through events like the Talk Fest, where we discussed different topics and networked with other international students. Studying itself was quite different from my home university. I chose the 18-credit course option, which meant I had only three lectures a week but a lot of pre-work for each class and regular assignments. This is why the workload during the semester was a bit heavier than at the semester's end.

Sydney itself boasts many beautiful places to visit, including iconic landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as places like the Royal Botanical Garden and the beaches. My favorite beach was definitely Manly Beach; the ferry ride to this beach is lovely, and it's not as crowded as Bondi Beach. You can also visit the Rocks Market or one of the many museums, most of which are free.

The StuVac week in the middle of the semester provided the opportunity to travel around Australia. That's why I attended a surf camp at Geora Beach and then traveled to Byron Bay. An affordable way to travel is by using hop-on-hop-off buses like Greyhound or Premier Bus. In Byron Bay, I saw whales and took trips to Lake Ainsworth, a red lake, and to Brunswick Heads, where I went on a beautiful kayaking tour on the Brunswick River.

My journey in Australia has been truly amazing and perhaps the best time of my life. I am looking forward to all the adventures that may come in the next few months.

Elisa-Marie Speck Spring 2023 Study Abroad student from TH Wildau – Technische Hochschule Wildau, Germany

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