[SKIP TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS IF YOU WANT THE BOTTOM LINE]
My study abroad experience was absolutely amazing! Besides being a part of more than 30 students from across America, I was also introduced to nearly a hundred other individuals from all over the world who were either studying abroad, looking for a job or just backpacking the area. It sounds lame, but I truly cherish every person that I came into contact with on my trip-- my journey.
Macquarie Uni (especially during Semester 2) is a fun, fun, fun university! There is always something to do on campus, but you may have to do some research. There were many times when I missed out on events that I would have loved to attend, but I didn't look into the school's schedules.
Both Fiji and Sydney are beautiful, easy-going places that I could easily see myself revisiting or even relocating to. The people in both countries (Australia was often referred to as a country) are very kind, welcoming and helpful. Do yourself a favor and make some good relationships with people from both areas. You never know when you may need something-- whether you're in their country or back home in America.
BEFORE LEAVING US
1. Save as much money as possible!! Seriously, the exchange rate was absolutely ridiculous while I was abroad (fall '11). Also, Sydney is expensive in general, but you can find cheaper places to shop and eat if you shop around.
2. Make sure you go through the AIFS info booklet online for general necessities and information about the weather and clothing, etc.
3. Make a list and research things and places you will need to find immediately (i.e hair salons, churches, possible companies to intern/work).
4. Pack smart. Bring everything you will need, but leave enough space in the luggage to allow for trinkets and souvenirs from across Oceania.
6. Use unused appliances/ items from your apartment and peers' apartments to save on money and luggage space. [i.e. blow dryer, flat iron, textbooks, etc- you can always clean them]
7. Make many friends from all backgrounds and countries.
8. Do your work, but hang out and enjoy yourself AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! *Disclaimer* Be safe and responsible though.
9. Travel to as many other cities and countries as your pocket permits! Seriously!
10. Enjoy yourself, and SOAK UP EVERY SECOND!!
The worst part of my experience was arriving back home and realizing I may never get the opportunity to hang out with friends I'd met, to ride the train to/ from the city as the sun rises/ sets, to surf on those white beaches, to go to Ubar or the Ranch (you'll know when you go), to scream at the annoying birds that later become normal, or to eat ice cream and pancakes with the Red Frogs crew at the Village.