By Jenna Booth
Sydney is a unique experience compared to other study abroad programs partially because of the simple fact that it isn’t that much different from the U.S. If you asked me what major cultural differences there are, there is nothing that I immediately think of. The value of coming to Sydney and realizing how similar it is to the U.S. makes it cast a more reflective lens upon your life back at home.
Example #1: Talking with native Australians about the exciting things we have been doing while we’re in Sydney or our weekend excursions is always interesting. A lot of people have not climbed the bridge, even if they have lived here their entire lives. They are in no rush.
I don’t blame them either. Climbing the bridge is easily one of the highlights of my time here and is basically on my mental list of lifetime achievements, but if I lived here I probably wouldn’t have done it. It is hard to appreciate the things that you are accustomed to.
If I had people from other countries asking me if I have taken a tour of the White House, I would say no. If I had people ask me what the best restaurants, bars, and museums in D.C. or Baltimore were, I would not be very much help. I can’t remember the last time I went to any of the memorials in D.C., or if I have even been at all.
Example #2: College in Australia is not like college in America. Everyone talks about “the college experience”, but until you talk with people who are going to school here, you don’t realize how true that phrase is.
There is so much of a focus on campus life at American universities and you take it for granted. In Australia there is very little on-campus housing offered, and it is usually reserved for people who live extremely far away or are rather (read: very) wealthy – it is not unusual for students to have one, two, even three-hour commutes one way.
The lesson: I’m going to make a conscious effort to live a little more “carpe diem” and soak up the things back home that I usually take for granted – the obscene abundance of campus events, clubs, opportunities, and resources at our disposal as well as the proximity to our nation’s capital. Just because they will always be there, doesn’t mean I always will be – who knows, I could find myself back in Sydney in a few years…
How to not seize the day: Nap on Bondi beach.
How to seize the day: Venture perhaps a tad too far out on the rocks in the ocean.