Sydney Internship and Study Abroad Program: Samuel Taylor '18
Now that we have lived in Sydney for over a month, I can tell you that there is no way to see it all. Although our small Washington & Lee group has made an effort to do as much as possible, we have barely scratched the surface of what Sydney has to offer. There really is something for everyone here, and the range of things to do is countless. Sydney offers a huge, international urban scene while simultaneously providing plenty of green spaces to roam. With tons of beaches and hiking trails a short train ride away, the city never feels too overcrowded or stifling.
I begin to realize just how quickly our time here will go, I have begun taking every opportunity to check something off of my bucket list. Our group’s excursions so far have included numerous trips to Manly and Bondi Beach, as well as a trip to one of Sydney’s northern beaches for surf lessons. In early March we made it up to tropical Cairns to snorkel and dive at the Great Barrier Reef. We have tried many of the restaurants in The Rocks, a famous historic district on the Sydney Harbor waterfront. Just yesterday, a few of us rented a boat for a few hours and enjoyed gorgeous views of Sydney from the water.
When studying abroad for four months, things are bound to go wrong. A few weekends ago, John Bozeman and I decided to take a trip up to Byron Bay. We booked a flight to the Gold Coast, where we would then rent a car and drive down to Byron Bay.
As we were flying into the Gold Coast, the woman next to us on the plane asked us about our trip. We explained our plan to drive down the coast, and she immediately seemed confused. She explained that a huge cyclone had just hit, and some of the worst flooding in over a decade had shut down a majority of the roads in Queensland. Concerned at the news, we decided to try and find a way down anyways. We rented a car and acquainted ourselves with being on the left side of the road. Then we drove for about 45 minutes until we rounded a corner and the road promptly disappeared into a lake. We turned around and tried another road, but unfortunately the same was true. After some time, and a lot of frustration, we drove north to Surfer’s Paradise and stayed in a hostel. The next day brought no good news so we spent the day there and ended up flying back that night.
Although the trip was not a complete success, the experience was entertaining and the mishaps were revealing of how things can go wrong. We learned that we should probably do a quick Google search on the current news of a destination, like what the weather might be doing. We are taking this lesson to heart as we plan our next trips to Melbourne and Tasmania.
As part of the program, I am taking classes at the University of Sydney as well as interning at a start-up in Sydney’s Central Business District. The opportunity to work and study has revealed a great deal about Australian work and student life. The workplace here is less formal than in the United States, and rarely if at all do people use anything other than first names on the job. University life is particularly interesting, especially in the way it contrasts with W&L. The University of Sydney boasts an enrollment of over 50,000 students, and this is clear in both the physical size of the school and the structure of classes. Most classes at the institution are structured as a once-a-week lecture and a supplementary breakout session called a tutorial. The tutorials offer students the chance to experience the small classroom setting, and this is where questions are asked and material is applied to case studies.
Studying abroad in Australia has not only allowed me to travel and visit incredible places; it has also given me the opportunity to experience an extensive international university environment as well as work in an Australian start-up. I look forward to the next few months here in Australia, and we’ll keep you up-to-date with our adventures Down Under.