Ellie Holleran - 2015 Program Participant

Skydiving in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Skydiving in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to apply to study abroad because I knew that I wanted to go abroad at some point in my university career. Although I've taken Spanish and German over the years, I'm not comfortable enough in either to live in a country that is not a mainly English speaking one. I figured that going abroad to an English speaking country would help for my majors the best, since I would be able to easily understand my courses. I've always been keen towards going to Australia at some point in my life, and I figured that studying abroad was the best chance I would have to spend a productive long period of time there.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Sydney?

Ever since I was little I've always wanted to go to Australia. Being so far away from home fascinated me, not to mention all of the beautiful beaches and the deadly animals. I chose IES Abroad because it is an affiliated program. This way, I was guaranteed that my classes would transfer over as credits and that my financial aid would transfer over as well. The website is also very clear with showing specifically what each program is made up of and the different options that you have.

What was your favorite part about Sydney?

My favourite part of living in Sydney was being directly in the city. As in, everywhere was just a short bus ride away, like the Opera House, Bondi Beach, etc. Also, my accommodation was located right near the airport, which made weekend excursions easily accessible. Another favourite thing about living in Sydney was how there were so many small cafes and shops to explore. Even after living there for four and half months, there are still so many stores that I didn't discover within Sydney's many suburbs.

Bondi Beach, Australia

The Bondi Icebergs at Bondi Beach, Australia, and the beginning of the Bondi to Coogee walk

What made your program one-of-a-kind?

IES Abroad offers many field trips throughout the Sydney program. Not only did they plan an amazing (financially subsidised) spring break vacation, but we also had a couple of day trips included in the deposit fee. It was really nice to have the opportunities to see some parts of Australia that are hard to access on your own.

How did the local IES Abroad staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff with IES Abroad did an amazing job of keeping track and supporting us. The two advisors were both so friendly and really reached out to us to make sure that we are all adjusting okay. They came to all of our universities every month or so and bought us lunch to catch up on everything. They really cared about our well-being and it was very comforting knowing that they were there for us.

Milkshake at Vogue Cafe in Sydney, Australia

The most amazing peanut butter milkshake ever at the Vogue Cafe in Sydney, Australia

What's one thing you wish you could change about your experience?

I wish that I stayed longer after the program officially ended. With having hard classes, it was difficult to explore the city and country at times, since you had to focus on your studies. I'm very happy with all of the travelling that I did while I was there, but it definitely did go by very quickly.

Describe what a typical day was like for you as an international student in Sydney.

I would first wake up and prepare a late breakfast or early lunch before heading off to my classes for the day. In between my classes I would lay out in one of the chairs on Sydney Uni campus and read or catch up on my homework before going to tute.

After getting back from classes I would see what my friends were up to. From there we would go to the pool, hang out at the beach, or go to a new restaurant to eat. We then would all get together and find a new place to go out to at night, only to go to bed and start all over the next day.

What was your favorite activity outside the normal schedule of your program?

My favourite activity outside of my normal schedule was when one weekend we planned a trip to Melbourne. It was so much fun to just casually plan a trip on a normal weekend and to just figure everything out once you got there. My friends and I explored the city and got to see so many famous sites within the city. I loved the freedom of travelling on the weekends, and of course I would bring my homework along with me! We also planned trips to Port Stephens, Byron Bay, Hunter Valley, and we went to New Zealand and Cairns for our spring break. I highly recommend anyone in IES Abroad Sydney to go on the spring break trip. It's not only an amazing deal with your money but it will be the best week of your entire life!

Building at the University of Sydney in Australia

University of Sydney (aka Hogwarts)

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in a five person apartment at the Sydney University Village. Two of my roommates were from IES Abroad, while my other two roommates were in another study abroad program. All of us were American, and we each had our own rooms. I loved this living style because I still had the comfort of my own bedroom while being surrounded by people. It was a lot of fun living with four other random people, and I totally recommend everyone try this.

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad impacted your life?

Being abroad made me realise how much I do not want to stay in the same place for the rest of my life. After being at home for almost two weeks, I am already getting anxious to keep travelling. After learning and adapting to a completely new culture, I learned a lot about being independent. I can't believe I stayed in the States for pretty much my entire life up until this point! Having this newfound travel bug is going to be rough on my bank account, but I can't wait to explore the rest of the world.