Deborah Korzun - 2013 Program Participant

Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

View of Bondi Beach from the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk.

What inspired you to study abroad?

Growing up I loved that I had the opportunity to travel with my family both within and outside of the United States. After my older sister studied abroad I knew it was an experience I needed to have for myself and explore somewhere new. 

Why did you choose to study in Australia?

I have wanted to travel to Australia for as long as I can remember, so choosing Sydney as my study abroad location was almost a given. When I discovered the New Zealand and South Africa programs I was almost swayed to go there, but I ultimately chose Sydney for the diversity of experiences I could have. I looked forward to hiking and being outdoors, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the city of Sydney, going to the beach, and more! 

What were your housing arrangements in Sydney like?        

I stayed in a two-bedroom on-campus apartment at the University of New South Wales. The apartment had a shared a bathroom, common room, and kitchen. My roommate was a participant with another study abroad program, and I got to meet even more abroad students through her. We were fortunate to have a fantastic view of the Sydney skyline and racetrack adjacent to campus. To this day I still miss living with my roommate, waking up to our special view, being so close to campus and the gym, and only a 15-minute walk to the grocery store and a 25-minute walk to Coogee Beach. 

View of Randwick Racecourse and the Sydney skyline

View from Deb’s apartment of the Randwick Racecourse and Sydney skyline.

What was a normal day like as a student in Sydney?

Typical daily activities for me included attending the lectures, labs and recitations, going to the gym, cooking for myself in the apartment, and meeting up with other study abroad students or local Australian friends to hang out or explore something new in the Sydney area. There was never a shortage of places to discover or things to try!

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?

By far my best memory is during the IES Abroad mid-semester break to Cairns, our day on the Great Barrier Reef. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to scuba dive and snorkel on the Reef, so when it came true I was in complete awe. Such stunning views of the coral and fish; I even saw a glimpse of a sea turtle, held some sea cucumbers, watched a giant clam open, and swam with a little shark and barracudas! It was my first time scuba diving, and I loved it so much I got certified in Sydney later in the semester.

How have you experiences abroad affected your life at home?

Really living in another area outside the U.S. and meeting new people gave me a whole new perspective on the diversity of people and places in the world, as well as the small things that make us all the same. I started to appreciate things I took for granted at home, and learned things I wanted to bring back with me. I was able to learn about myself, who I am, what I need, and get a little better focus on what I wanted my future to look like. Reflecting back on my experiences in the two years since I’ve come home, I have discovered my passion for traveling, meeting new people and cultures, and would love to incorporate it into my career. 

Absailing in the Blue Mountains in Australia

Absailing trip in the Blue Mountains.

Would you recommend the IES Abroad Sydney program to others?        

Most definitely. The IES Abroad staff, students, events, and trips, as well as the people I met and things I got involved in on my own, made my time abroad the adventure of a lifetime. The ways I was changed and experiences I had are things that I hope everyone has the chance to go through. 

What important tips can you give to future study abroad students?

Get involved with locals as soon as possible. Go to the first meetings of activities and put yourself out there, even if you go it alone. Time definitely flies abroad, so the sooner you can connect with people, the longer you will have to build lifelong relationships with them. Finally, never stop exploring. Nothing compares to the joy of remembering the exciting things you've done, people you've met, and ways you’ve changed along the way.

Did you find it hard to adjust to life at home? Do you think you experienced reverse culture shock?

After traveling around so much and having new adventures everyday abroad, it was difficult to readjust to “normal” life again. Additionally, when I returned home in the middle of the summer, I immediately moved to live at school on my own and work, and then started school again soon after. I got busy again so fast that don’t think I gave myself the time to process my time abroad.

Although I was only in Sydney for about four months, I have never felt so at home in a place or connected with the people there better. I’m usually very adaptable, able to easily move anywhere, and get adjusted, so I was surprised to feel so homesick for Sydney. Nevertheless, considering what I enjoyed and missed most about my time abroad has helped me to determine a career path and reveal opportunities to incorporate my passion for travel and experiencing other cultures. 

Petting a kangaroo in an Australian wildlife park

Relaxing with a kangaroo in a wildlife park.

If you could go on another IES Abroad program which one would you choose?

Having now studied in Sydney and having the opportunity to travel for a week in New Zealand I would want to go to Cape Town, South Africa. It was my third choice when choosing a program, and I know I would love the adventures, scenery, people, and culture there. I became close with a girl from Cape Town while in Sydney, and I’ve heard great stories from my friend from my home school who studied there with IES.