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Five Habits I Picked Up In Sydney

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The past five months studying abroad in Sydney, Australia have been the time of my life. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to explore new places, immerse myself in a new country, experience life as a student at a very different university to the small liberal arts college I was used to, and meet a variety of wonderful and interesting people. On top of all this, reflecting on my experience, I have realized that studying at UNSW has fostered some habits that I will aim to implement into my life as a U.S. college student and beyond.

  1. Early Sleeper, Early Riser:
    Before coming to Sydney, I had always considered myself to be a night owl. At Amherst, I would often find myself up late at night either burning the midnight oil or hanging out with friends, before dragging myself out of bed and squeezing in a rushed breakfast before my classes. Living in Australia, that quickly changed, and I began adopting the lifestyle that seems typical with locals of hitting the hay early at around 10 pm to fuel an early wake-up. This sleeping schedule seems to be reflected across Australian society, with shops, cafes, and restaurants open from the early hours but closing earlier than I was accustomed to in the U.S. I will look to implement a similar routine at Amherst as I think it improves my productivity and quality of sleep.

2. Daily Exercise:
Combining the early riser culture and the (mostly) warm, sunny weather outside, I found myself enjoying and looking forward to doing some form of exercise each day, whether that be walking, running, surfing, or playing tennis. As a student-athlete at Amherst, I was used to exercising daily, but being in Sydney forced me to not take it for granted but appreciate having time in the day to take my mind off things and improve my mental health as well as my physical fitness.

3. Cooking:
Living on UNSW’s campus with a kitchen rather than a dining hall meant I had to cook daily. At first, it took me a while to get the hang of efficiently thinking ahead, doing grocery shopping, and making healthy but tasty meals for each day, but, by the end of my time there, I was enjoying getting creative in the kitchen. While I will be back to eating regularly in the dining hall in the U.S., I will try to cook as much as I can and continue improving my culinary skills.

4. Budgeting:
In a similar trend of being more independent in Australia, I had to budget efficiently so that I could afford some expensive travel (such as a trip to the Great Barrier Reef) without running into financial difficulty. While working and earning a regular income helped, I developed my ability to strike a balance such that I stuck to a budget without overly restricting myself with the range of fun things to do Down Under. I will continue to implement similar budgeting tools and principles in the future.

5. Saying “Yes”:
With only five months Down Under, I was determined to make the most of my time abroad. With ambitions to travel and try new activities, I adopted a mindset that I would try and say yes to exciting events and opportunities that cropped up, and not be too hesitant or nervous to do things I had never done before, such as taking a surfing lesson or abseiling in the Blue Mountains. I found that this helped me do a lot in a short time and is a mindset that I want to implement when I return to Amherst to make the most of the last year-and-a-half I have there.

Reflecting on my time in Australia, I am grateful not only for a semester filled with lifelong memories but also for the transferable skills and habits I cultivated abroad. The personal growth gained from navigating a new country adds yet another compelling reason why I wholeheartedly recommend the study abroad experience.

Edred Opie (Amherst College) attended the University of New South Wales in the Fall of 2023 through IFSA’s Australia partnership study abroad program.