Australia: Volunteer Beach Cleanup

Submitted by Harrison Crum on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

Pollution is a global problem and Australia is no exception. While many of the beaches are clean here, when a storm rolls through, trash floods many of them. Thankfully, as awareness of this problem increases, many volunteer groups in the area have formed that seek to clean up the litter. One such place is the Dive Centre Manly. This past weekend, they held a volunteer beach cleanup with all of their gear up to half priced for the day. Volunteers had the option to pay for scuba or snorkeling gear, or walk along the shoreline and pick up debris. While most of the volunteers were veteran divers with their own gear, there were a handful of us that were not experienced and walked along the beach. The target of this cleanup was mainly plastic. While other materials, such as glass, can be used by aquatic life as homes without much, if any, negative effects, plastic causes numerous issues. Sea life can mistake plastic for food and ingest it, and this can cause the animal to die. So during this dive, glass was left behind for homes, but all plastic was collected because of its adverse effects. From this dive, I learned a great amount about how waste and debris ends up in the ocean.

In the past couple of decades, Australia has realized just how much of their waste ends up in their oceans and the impact it has on both their lives and the lives of the Australian wildlife. They’ve begun creating more policies against dumping in the oceans and placed much emphasis on recycling. Most Australians stray away from single use plastics, and plastics in general. There are many, many things I have come to love about Sydney, but the biggest takeaway so far is the environmental awareness and the willingness of Australians to take time out of their schedules to address a problem that is not going away. I believe this responsibility that the individual takes for ensuring there is a liveable environment for not only their generation, but generations to come, is something that I will incorporate into my attitudes even after my study abroad program.

Australia: Homesickness and New Friends

Submitted by Olivia Szefer on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

Homesickness hit me quite hard this past week. I made a plan to have a phone call with my parents, significant other and my sister about twice a week. This way, both sides would be able to communicate openly and not miss out. However, I still began to miss them and their close presence to me. I am quite the homebody and extremely family-oriented, therefore moving across the world for three months was quite the adventure. Little to say, I was down in the dumps for a few days in this beautiful country. The silver lining in this story is that the wonderful friendships that I have made here helped me with this dilemma. My friends came to my door with coffee, a box of Tim Tams and warm hugs to comfort me. Later, the group of us made a pact to keep each other busy with adventures and day trips to not feel as lonely and stuck with our thoughts. I am lucky to have come out of my comfort zone and make new friends from across the United States who in turn help me with my longing for home.

The picture is of us sand boarding in Port Stephens

Australia: Ties Between Australia and China

Submitted by Harrison Crum on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

Australia values their ties with Asia, in particular China, and one way in which this is best exemplified is through their Chinese Lunar New Year celebration held throughout the city of Sydney. Since I arrived, I have seen countless advertisements preparing the Australian citizens for these celebrations. Here in Sydney, there is a huge three-week festival to celebrate the Year of the Rat. All throughout the city there is live entertainment, performers, golden rat robots, games, lion dancers, markets, and food trucks. In particular, in the Circular Quay area there are the Lunar Lanterns. The Lunar Lanterns are a creative, contemporary interpretation of a centuries-old tradition. Twelve pieces of giant artwork are on display, each is a different animal that represents a creature of the zodiac. It was such a great opportunity to experience a part of the culture of China, and at the same time, the relationship between Australia and China. The artwork was absolutely beautiful, the attention to detail was astonishing. And the fact that the city displayed these works of art in one of the most populated parts of the city shows the strong ties between the two countries. While America plays a large role in most countries around the world, it has been very interesting to witness the interactions between cultures that I am not native to, which is obviously something hard to do when living in my home country. Australia has relationships with various countries and I greatly anticipate being able to view them.

The Lunar Lanterns in the Circular Quay area – rabbit zodiac creature

Australia: A Few “Firsts”

Submitted by a student on the 2020 winter session program in Australia and Thailand sponsored by the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics…

I am on my way back to the United States and am very excited to be back. Study abroad has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I am very glad UD gave my this chance. During my final week abroad, I have had the opportunity to experience many firsts and see sights I may never get the chance to see again.

I spent the last few days on my program visiting companies and saying good-bye to my classmates. We had a great 3 course meal overlooking the harbor bridge we had climbed just a few days before and reflected on all of our favorite moments of the program. Then about half of the students headed back to the United States and the rest of us continued on to Cairns.

We started our trip to Cairns by visiting the Great Barrier Reef where I got to see the reef, swim with a sea turtle, and learn all about the reef. We then got to do a tour of the rain forests and go swimming in a few lakes and waterfalls.

I am excited to return to UD in a few days and apply what I’ve learned while abroad to my future education.

Australia: Pushing Through Fear

Submitted by Olivia Szefer on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

This past weekend, the CAPA program sponsored a trip for the students to the Blue Mountains as well as the Featherdale Wildlife Park. From the time I landed in Sydney, I was excited to travel to these places because I am an avid hiker and large animal lover. Once I got there, it was exhilarating since I have never been this close to such beautiful creatures, and I even had the chance to feed some of them like the kangaroos and wallabies. The picture below shows my friend Amíca on the left and I on the right feeding a kangaroo some regular feed. However, with the Blue Mountains trip I was forced to get out of my comfort zone. I am petrified of heights and during the hike we were passing by cliffs that had high drop offs that would lead straight to the valley below. At one point in our hike, there was a moment where we had to climb down steep stairs to get onto the three sisters – where it was a straight drop. Though I was scared to climb down, I pushed myself through my comfort zone in order to experience new things and to have amazing memories with my newly made friends.

Australia: Favorite Parts of Study Abroad

Submitted by Cassidy Pieper on the 2020 winter session program in Australia and Thailand sponsored by the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics…

During the final week of this amazing experience, we were able to explore Sydney on our own with more downtime to ourselves. During our free weekend, we explored the Blue Mountains. We were very lucky to be able to travel through the bush and learn about the fires and how they impacted the entire country and surrounding areas. On Australia Day, we celebrated at a dinner with most of our group. This past month, getting to know other students at UD, has been one of my favorite parts about the program. I have formed friendships that will last a lifetime.

We ended the program with three company visits. My favorite was hearing from the executives of Cochlear. We were also able to tour their innovation rooms and experience first hand all of the fine details that go into making their implants. On our final evening together, our entire group, including our professors and program directors shared a meal at a restaurant with a view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House. As we wrapped up our program, I was able to reflect about how much I learned about different cultures, myself, and how businesses run internationally. These will all help me as I continue my education and the skills I have learned will follow me through my career.

Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls


New Zealand: Diving into the Culture

Submitted by Mia DeRicco on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Australia and New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Hospitality Business Management…

A trip to Te Puia, a traditional Maori village, was where I felt most immersed into the culture of New Zealand! From the start, we were greeted with the Maori language and wooden carved sculptures of each of the gods, such as the God of the Wind or the God of the Sea. As we walked further into the village, we approached a geyser, which was absolutely stunning. I have never seen a hot spring before, so watching as water and steam shot up into the air out of the geyser was exciting. We also came across mud baths, which reminded me of the time I went in a mud bath in St. Lucia a few years ago and covered my whole body in the hot mud from the baths.

As it got closer to the time for us to enjoy a Hangi dinner, a ceremonial war dance was performed by the Maori people. The women danced with rope as the men handled swords. It was interesting to me how many facial expressions the Maori people use during the war dance. The men would end with sticking their tongue out in an aggressive way, which I feel is used to intimidate others and show their power. The Hangi dinner was prepared underground and witnessing them take it out was incredible. Who would ever think they’d be eating food prepared underground! This experience is one I will never forget as it gave me a better understanding of the original settlers of New Zealand, the Maori people.

Maori Wooden Carved Sculpture
Geyser in the Maori Village shooting up steam and water
Hangi food being taken out from underground
Celebratory War Dance by the Maori Village People

Australia: Blue Mountains National Park

Submitted by Harrison Crum on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

Australia is known for its unique landscapes and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. This week, my program had the opportunity to travel to the Blue Mountains National Park here in the state of New South Wales. About an hour drive outside the city of Sydney, we hiked in the Katoomba area, home of the iconic Three Sisters rock formation. We made our way down to one of the sisters as well as down the rest of the mountain. Although the heat was unusually high even for Australian standards, the views were absolutely amazing and we were able to see some of the wildlife. Australia is certainly unique when it comes to its wildlife, as it is home to many unusually large, as well as venomous animals, including the most venomous spider in the world: the funnel-web spider. As we hiked down the mountain, our tour guide pointed out the home of a female funnel-web spider just along the side of the trail. As someone with strong arachnophobia, coming within inches of this nest was both frightening and exhilarating. I’ve been told that studying abroad is a time of trying new things and challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone. For me, there was no better way to do so than by approaching the home of the creature that strikes the most fear in me. Nowhere else in the world would I be able to do this. These spiders are nocturnal, so I was not able to see her. Yet, I am still incredibly thankful for this experience as even coming close to a sleeping spider is a step outside my comfort zone. Australia holds countless opportunities to explore both geographically and personally, both of which I intend to do over the next ten weeks of my program.

The view of the Three Sisters Rock formation at the Blue Mountains National Park
The funnel-web spider nest we saw during our hike.


Australia: Finally in Sydney

Submitted by a student on the 2020 winter session program in Australia and Thailand sponsored by the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics…

This week we arrived in Sydney, the place I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s so beautiful here and we got to do so many cool things. I climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge and saw the amazing view of all of Sydney from up top. It was really cool to do some of my own exploring here, too. I visited the harbor a lot for cute places to eat and I went to a pretty friendship garden. I really like Sydney so far and I can totally picture myself wanting to live here.

Australia: Bonding Experience

Submitted by Elizabeth Dallara on the 2020 winter session program in Australia and Thailand sponsored by the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics…

In Sydney, Australia, my study abroad group climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. This was a strenuous experience, however, it was well worth the effort. We started the bridge climb during sunset and got an amazing view of the sky. As we traveled upwards along the bridge, the sun descended, and the city lights sparkled all around us. We were able to see the Sydney Opera House, skyscrapers, and the surrounding harbor. At the summit, we were at 134 meters above sea level. It was amazing to be this high up and get a 360-degree view of the whole city. Additionally, it was a good bonding experience to be with my classmates and to be able to cheer each other on as we climbed to the top. I was happy to be able to climb the bridge and conquer my nerves.