21 Things I Learned in My First 21 Days Abroad

Ainsley Kelso is a student at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is currently studying & interning abroad with ISA in Sydney, Australia.

  1. Sunscreen is not a suggestion in Sydney, Australia. Neither is covering up, wearing a hat, and wearing sunglasses. The sun here is brutal.
  2. People walk on the left side of the sidewalk. This does not seem like an issue until you constantly forget which side to walk on.
  3. Public transportation is the BEST thing here. There are so many options and routes to take, and it is easy to work with the “Tap on, Tap off” card.
  4. There is a 7-Eleven on every corner, and Slurpees are a must on the hot summer days.
  5. Perspective is important to consider in everything relating to Australia. I have found in learning about Australian history and nationalism that there is no one way of viewing it. Taking into account all perspectives gives you a better idea of who the people of Australia are.
  6. It is important to recognize and respect the Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander tribes, the original residents of the land.
  7. I will never not be amazed when I see the Sydney Opera House. It is even better in person than it is in pictures.
  8. You think the slang will be easy to learn, but in reality, it is hard to catch on to the day to day lingo. For example, instead of asking “How are you?” they may ask “How are you going?” Do not be surprised if they give you a confused look when you tell them that you are going by bus.
  9. Americans are loud, and people outside of the United States find it annoying.
  10. Snacks, meals, and drinks tend to be less sugary here in comparison to the United States. Also, do not plan to find Oreos on the shelves on the local Coles or Aldi.
  11. Watch Australian television shows! It may feel like you are wasting time, but it is really interesting to see what is popular here. There are even many American shows or spin-offs of them that air here.
  12. It is okay to have bad days. I am living in a smaller than expected apartment, with three other women, in a foreign country, while taking classes and preparing for an internship. Not every day is going to be a perfect, vacation-like trip to the beach.
  13. If the forecast says it is going to rain, be skeptical. It may look like it is going to rain, but it could be one of the nicest days outside and vice versa.
  14. Do not immediately fall asleep after getting off the plane! Yes, you will be jet lagged, but sleeping will not help you to adjust.
  15. Grocery shopping in a different country is not easy and can actually be a bit terrifying at first. Make lists of what you need and focus on the products and not the brands.
  16. Explore everything you can but give yourself time to relax as well! I am still working to find my personal work, fun, and relax balance.
  17. Do things you might be afraid of doing. Climb that mountain, talk to the locals, or try to make a friend. I get the most reward out of accomplishing something I did not think would be possible for me, rather than doing something within my comfort zone.
  18. Know your limits. Just like with everything in life, know your comfort zone and limits before going into a new experience. Decide how far out of that comfort zone you are willing to go and then go for it!
  19. Try and live like a local! I have been hang-drying all of my clothes and using reusable shopping bags everywhere I go. It seems to be the normal thing to do here.
  20. Drink water. This is a given anywhere you go, but just like with sunscreen, water is essential when in the Australian sun.
  21. Be respectful. In a study abroad situation, YOU are the foreign one. Even though in your head this experience is all about you, you are living in someone else’s home. Be kind and respect their home and the people.

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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