Sydney Taylor - 2015 Program Participant

Why did you decide to study abroad through a program provider, as opposed to directly enrolling in a university?

I decided to go through a program because it was the best route for me. I'm not very good with processes or paperwork. By going through a program, some of the heavy load was lifted off of me. A program will give you step-by-step instructions on what paperwork needs to be filled out and how. TEAN also provided more information and guidance for things I wouldn't know about. Housing, food, and excursions are some things I didn't want to be burdened by when deciding to go abroad. A program provider will set that all up for you and tell clearly state it in their program booklet. I also had a point of reference for any of the many questions that I always had.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Bondi Beach, Sydney

Why did you choose The Education Abroad Network (TEAN)?

I picked TEAN as my program provider after looking and really dissecting other programs. What really drew me into TEAN was their orientation week. TEAN was the only program that had:

1. an orientation week

2. Included time outside the city you decided to stay in

For me this was huge. I studied in Gold Coast, which is an hour flight from Sydney. With other programs, I would have to find my way down to Sydney on my own, but with TEAN I had the amazing opportunity to stay there for a week and do cool activities, such as climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

I also picked TEAN because it was the program with the most "bang for your buck." The excursions included with the program were everything I needed to feel like I was truly immersed into Australian culture. On top of going to Sydney and climbing their iconic bridge, I decided to partake in the pre-semester excursion to Cairns, where I spent an amazing week and had the chance to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Throughout the semester, I took surf lessons and went to popular sporting events too.

Beach houses in Melbourne, Australia

Aussie Mates forever <3 (Beach Houses in Melbourne)

What was your favorite part about Gold Coast? 

Gold Coast is in the beautiful Australian state of Queensland. Gold Coast is absolutely stunning. It's a great mix of city life, beach life, and quiet tropics. Gold Coast is a popular vacation destination for many Australians, so there was always something to do including the two major theme parks in the country. And even though Surfer's Paradise was the main city location, it doesn't take long to find your quiet residential areas. Burleigh Heads is a beautiful local area that is a short distance from our housing location. We went on nature walks, local fairs and farmer's markets there.

What aspects of your program set it apart from other program options?

The excursions included. That was the selling point for me. When I decided to go abroad, I wanted to get the best out of the area I was going to be in. Excursions help out with that plenty, because they force you to get into the local culture and do the major tourist activities. With TEAN, I got a healthy mix of both. Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge and diving in the Great Barrier Reef are the two major things you should do in Australia, and I did both through my program. Taking surfing lessons and attending sporting events helped me immerse myself more into the culture.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff were amazing. Helen was my local director and even before getting to Australia, she helped me out. I emailed Helen annoying little questions and asked about every detail of my experience before I got there, and she answered them all; she always got back to me within the next day. That support before I even got there was truly comforting to my family and myself. While in Australia, this continued. Helen was always available for me to reach whenever I needed her to. Helen also always gave us a head's up to any cool events going on in the area.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wished I had listened to my Mom and gone to the dentist before going! I messed up big time there!

View of Gold Coast, Australia

Beautiful Gold Coast

Describe a day in the life of your program.

Wake up in your amazing apartment. Travel to school via the tram system. Come back to the apartment, drop your school things off, change into your bathing suit, and head to either the beach or pool. Hang out until you can't anymore, go back inside, and have dinner. Watch "The Bachelor" or whatever we rented that week from Blockbuster, head off to bed.

Note: Either calling home when you first wake up or right before you go to bed included.

What did you enjoy doing on your free time?

I enjoyed the little weekend adventures I would go on either by myself or with friends. Going to Brisbane, the local theme parks, or even waking up to see the sunrise were always my favorite things to do outside of my day-to-day schedule.

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

I lived in an apartment building. The apartment itself was stuffed and fully furnished, including kitchen utensils and silverware. We didn't have to buy anything to make our stay more enjoyable. There was two separate rooms with two people each.

The location of the apartment was perfect. We were about a five minute walk from the beach! Adding to that, we lived right next to the major public transportation station. We didn't need to travel far to get a bus, which came in handy for weekend adventures. BUT ON TOP OF THAT, we were up the street from the mall. The mall held the major grocery store, which made it totally easy to make quick grocery shopping trips!

Sunset on the beach in Gold Coast, Australia

Being able to see the sunset is something to jump about!

Now that you're home, how has your time in Australia impacted your life?

My experience abroad impacted my life in ways I never expected. Before going to Australia, I never truly had a hunger for travel, but now my appetite for seeing the world is so big. I'm already planning my visit back to Australia!

As an individual, I grew SO much. I now know I am a self -proficient type of person. I don't need somebody to hold my hand and guide step-by-step. I am now confident in exploring places unknown to me and traveling by myself in general.

Overall, I have this new outlook on life and the world. Life for me is now about the experiences.

I want my life to be a scrapbook(s) filled with memorable experiences. Once you live on the "other side of the world" your definition of the world becomes smaller. I am now quick to take a flight to the Asia-Pacific area rather than Europe. No matter how many words I say, I can never truly describe what studying abroad did to me as a person.