Hey readers! My name is Morgan and I am a senior from Penn State University majoring in Biobehavioral Health. I have been blessed with the amazing opportunity to spend my second semester studying abroad in the city that stole my heart the moment I stepped off the plane. Sydney is unlike any other city I have ever been to. It possesses an indescribable type of energy that surrounds and revitalizes you as you walk around the skyscrapers and circular quay. While the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are two of the main iconic landmarks of this city, it has so much more to offer. In fact, one of my favorite things to do since I first arrived was just wandering around the streets of the city to find new cafes, pubs and restaurants. I enjoy these small adventures so much because even after being in Sydney for six months I never fail to find something new to try.
The first semester that I spent in Sydney was filled with new experiences and friends, facing fears and ultimately stepping out of my comfort zone. If there was one piece of advice that I could give to anyone studying abroad it would be that if something scares you, it is most likely worth giving a shot at. I feel this way because when studying abroad you are entering a new country with an entirely new culture, so maintaining an open mind to new experiences will only provide you with knowledge about yourself as well as the diverse world around you. Also, DON'T WAIT! I know when you first arrive it will seem like you have heeps of time to fit everything in but the time goes by extremely quickly and you don't want to find yourself rushing valuable experiences.
I can admit that there were a great deal of times last semester when I didn’t step out of my comfort zone or take a chance, and that is my personal goal to change in this upcoming semester. (My other goal is to somehow figure out how to make it back home with two suitcases under 50 pounds!) The IES program repeatedly uses the phrase of redefining yourself while studying abroad, and this is what I want to continue to strive for.
I am also very excited to spend the next semester with two of the best friends that I have. These two girls I actually met studying abroad in the spring and they decided to stay for the rest of the year as well. Not only does studying abroad provide you with an opportunity for experiences and learning, but also presents you with a group of students who ultimately become your family. When you all arrive in your new city they become the ones you lean on in hard times and that helps form lifelong friendships.
Some other things on my bucket list for the upcoming five months are to take day trips to the more secluded and lesser known beaches in Sydney, a weekend trip to Port Stephens, Perth and Karijini National Park, Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road drive, Tasmania, and finally Uluru. Quite the list, I know! Wishful thinking…
Travel within Australia is actually priced fairly reasonably compared to flight prices in the United States, so if your planning is structured well you can easily see a great deal of the country on a budget. I was able to travel up the east coast of Australia from Brisbane to Cairns last semester on the One Fish, Two Fish mid semester break tour and would definitely recommend it! Seeing the Great Barrier Reef should be on everyone’s bucket list as it is quickly deteriorating and will not be as bountiful as it is now.
The world is being presented at our feet and if we don’t take advantage of it we are letting an incredibly irreplaceable opportunity slip through our fingers. I want to challenge those reading this with a quote and a takeaway thought.
My challenge for you is to try and go beyond what you originally thought you were capable of. Step out on the ledge of your comfort zone and take a chance. It is better to learn from your mistakes than to not try and never know what the end result could have been! I promise that you won’t be disappointed with the results because I know I certainly wasn’t. You will be surprised with the positive difference it will make not only in your life but also the lives of others around you.
“We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better.”