I have no idea where to begin. I was pleasantly surprised by how great the IES abroad staff were. They always responded to my emails fairly quickly and they provided me with the all the information and materials to ensure I was prepared before I got to my destination. I thought for sure I was going to have to figure out all of it on my own, but there was no such problem. I was fortunate enough to attend the six week study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. I consider it the best decision of my undergraduate career; my only regret is not staying for a whole semester if not a year! If I had time I would for sure choose another IES program and travel down under again.
Once I arrived in Sydney I received the best welcome from the IES staff and enjoyed every second of my orientation. I was lucky enough to have arrived during the start of the VIVID festival and for our Arrival Dinner we ate on a cruise in the middle of the Sydney Harbour looking at all the VIVID lights. Throughout the rest of my six weeks my group went on several excursions which included a couple of national parks and a four day field trip to Central Australia where we explored the Outback. Our trip to the Outback is one of my favorite memories from my trip. No words can describe what it was like to sleep under the crystal clear stars in our swags.
As for academics, I took two different classes: Leadership Across Cultures and Australian History/Politics. I definitely enjoyed the history class. I've never taken a class where I could literally walk around the city and know exactly the backstory behind a particular building or area. We even went on field trips during our class where we could see first hand the contents that we were learning about.
I think about my study abroad experience every day and it has given me a whole new perspective on my life and the world. I wish everyone could get the opportunity to travel, make lasting memories, and form lifetime friendships just like I did because I know it will be one of their best decisions of their life.