Why Sydney?

When I tell people I’m studying abroad in Australia, they inevitably ask three things: “Will you bring me a kangaroo?” (sorry, but no), “Are you going to try vegemite?” (of course), and “Why Australia?”  The truth is, Sydney is one of the least glamourous-sounding destinations in a list of choices that includes London, Brussels, Dublin, and Buenos Aires.  But I’m not a particularly glamourous person, and for me it’s the best choice.  Why?

First of all, the only language I speak is English.  I know I could learn Spanish or Japanese or whatever if I really wanted to, but I knew this trip would yield enough new experiences for me without throwing a language barrier into the mix.  So I narrowed the list to English-speaking areas: Melbourne, Sydney, Brussels (sort of?), London, Westminster, Edinburgh and Auckland.

Some of these programs offer a combination of classes and internships, while others just offer classes.  I knew I wanted the internship experience, so that eliminated Westminster, Edinburgh, Auckland, and my second choice, Melbourne.

So what’s left?  London, Brussels, and Sydney.  From here, the choice was easy.  I didn’t want to go to Europe, because, with all due respect to students who go to Europe, EVERYONE goes to Europe.  I don’t have the statistics from the international programs office, but anecdotal evidence suggests London and Brussels are two of the most popular programs.  This semester alone, I know at least three people studying in Brussels and one in London.  The entire time I’ve been at Mizzou, I’ve known one person who studied in Australia.  This semester, I’m one of six students going to Sydney.  My hope is that Sydney will help me stand out in a journalism school where most everyone has a study abroad experience on their resume.

Another advantage of the Sydney program is its unique mix of study abroad and internship experiences.  Students participating in the London and Brussels programs attend classes taught by Mizzou professors at a school specifically for study abroad students.  In Sydney, I get to study at a local university with Australian professors and Australian classmates.

A few days ago I discovered one more advantage of Sydney.  I was reading the blog of a friend in Europe (Spain, to be precise).  She wrote about the number of trips she had planned for the semester, to places like Brussels, Paris, Dublin, and London.  She seemed somewhat stressed about having only four months to cram everything in.  People who appreciate Europe perhaps more than I do would say it’s a good thing:  Because the cities are only a few hours apart, it’s relatively easy to visit a different one every weekend.  You can see a lot of Europe in four months: Two days in Paris, two days in Brussels, and by the end you’re exhausted and probably can’t even remember which country was which.  On the other hand, once I get to Sydney, I’ll be stuck in Sydney for a while.  There are no major cities within easy driving (or riding) distance.  Besides New Zealand, the nearest country, Papua New Guinea, is a four-hour flight away (and who wants to go there anyway?).  During spring break, I’ll definitely be taking the opportunity to explore the rest of Australia and possibly New Zealand.  For the rest of the semester, though, I’m perfectly content to stay in one place.  Unlike the people dashing from city to city, I’ll have the opportunity to really get to know my temporary hometown.  I’ll get to explore Sydney in depth and take advantage of everything it has to offer.  And I absolutely cannot wait.

There.  Does that answer your questions?

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