The First of Many: My Study Abroad Experience in Sydney

Marla Holland is a student at Waynesburg University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Sydney, Australia.

First times can be scary, even when it feels like it should only be the most exciting thing to ever happen. It did not hit me until I left my family at the airport that this was actually happening. I was about to embark on this 9600 mile journey by myself. Not only was I leaving the country, but I was going to fly in an airplane for the first time ever as well. I was told that flying was not so bad – maybe like a roller coaster ride. It was and it wasn’t. My adrenaline was rushing, but it was also crazy realizing that the earth was thousands of miles beneath my feet and when I would return to it, I would be landing in what I would call home for the next six weeks.

Something else that had come to my realization was that I would be living in a city for a month and a half. All my life I had lived in the country and only visited big cities like Pittsburgh, NYC, and Washington D.C. Sydney is huge, so I would have to take the bus or train to get to many places or walk everywhere. Easily decided, there was my cardio for the day when I had class or shopping to do. Fortunately, I only lived a few hundred meters from a great local market with lots of fresh and healthy food options; also very helpful for trying to save money!

I knew that I would have to try some kangaroo while I was in Australia, so my friend threw some on the grill and I put on my big girl pants and tried it. It was different, but absolutely worth it. I am certain to have some more over the next few weeks.

Coming to Australia seems so easy because the main language here is English, but you have to catch on to some of the slang terms they use, or you may get behind, literally. When you are looking at a menu in line for some tea or something, be prepared for someone to ask if you are in the “queue” (a.k.a. line). A phrase that I hear quite often is “How’re you going?” which may sound like “How are you getting there?” or “How’s it going?” The latter is preferred because Aussie’s mean “How are you?” One last thing to keep in mind that Australians like to shorten everything, so “Macca’s” is McDonald’s and “footy” is referring to rugby.

For my Sport and Learning in Australian Culture class, I got to attend a Rugby League game!

My favorite sites so far include the Opera House and the Blue Mountains. They are both absolutely breath taking with a cool story behind them. One of the most amazing things about coming to Australia this winter (yes, it is winter here) was the Vivid Lights Festival. The Sydney Harbour is lit up with countless lights projected on surrounding buildings, the Opera House, and even in the sky. It is a spectacular time and great way to see the city at night!

Sydney Opera House.


Blue Mountains.


Sydney Opera House.

Though it is winter here and the temperature is relatively cool, the beach is a great way to spend a day or even just an afternoon exploring and enjoying the great views!

Manly Beach.

The world awaits…discover it.

One thought

  1. Awesome story Marla!!! Glad to see you make the trip and learn so much from the Study Abroad Program!! Good to see my sister grinding away at life and big dreams!!! Love ya!! Word up!

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