Westminster Abbey’s Lady Chapel

Submitted by Kayla Haynes on the 2024 Winter JOUR program in Australia…

Penguins on their way to find their young in the burrows

The Phillip Island Penguin Parade provided an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. Witnessing nature in such a carefully protected environment felt like a once-in-a- lifetime moment. Thanks to human intervention, predators on the island had been successfully eliminated, allowing the penguins to thrive. As the sun dipped below the horizon, over a thousand penguins emerged, all with a singular mission – reuniting with their offspring.

The area was filled with the cries of the penguin chicks, serving as a call for their parents to locate their burrows across the large field and beach. Observing these beautiful moments of reunion between two living beings left a lasting impression. Phillip Island, an example of pristine wilderness in Australia, showcased the beauty of untouched nature. Seeing the Cape Barren Goose drove that home.

These creatures exhibited no fear in the presence of humans, standing firm even in the face of our large tour bus. While it was inconvenient to find ourselves parked mid-street due to the determined bird, there was a certain charm. Unlike situations where animals flee human presence in fear, here, we felt a deep connection with nature, granted the privilege of witnessing it unfold in its unadulterated state. (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

First Full Week

Submitted by Alyson Markley on the 2024 Winter HSBM program in Australia…

This was my first full week in Australia, but also probably one of the busiest weeks of my life. Every day was full of a different adventure. We went to many different places this week like the Sydney Opera House as seen in that photo. We also walked through the Sydney botanical gardens and we were able to tour the inside of the opera house which was so interesting to see inside. We traveled to the Hunter Valley which is a large region where there are tons of vineyards. We visited 5 different vineyards and tried tons of different wines along with some very different foods to pair with our wines. Many of these foods I have been trying recently are foods I never thought I liked before but I have tried everything and been very surprised! This week we have another packed week of new experiences and tons of new foods! (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

First Week as a Sydneysider

Arnold the Koala at the Wildlife Park

Submitted by Nicole Curnan on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in Sydney, Australia…

The first week has brought on a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions! We have been on some fantastic adventures already including a trip to a wildlife reserve, a walking tour of the Rocks, and a four mile hike along Sydney’s coast. I am also doing an internship with a local startup that has been incredibly engaging and insightful! The work culture here is vastly different from that of the U.S. and I could not be more pleased with the work-life balance. My colleagues have all been incredibly helpful and friendly, we even had a traditional Aussie BBQ on the office patio to get to know each other a little better! The experience so far has been nothing short of wonderful and I am so excited to continue to push myself both professionally and personally in this beautiful city! (Submitted on January 13, 2024)

First Week Down Under!

Submitted by Sam Urspruch on the 2024 Winter HSBM program in Australia and New Zealand…

Traveling from the US to Australia was super exciting! The first day was a little overwhelming being so far from home, but after meeting the locals with their warm hospitality, I felt better! Trying new things has been my favorite part so far. We had dinner on the water which was 9 courses! Australia has opened my eyes to new flavors and dishes. Exploring iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Botanical Gardens showcased Australia’s diverse beauty. I love learning about the cuisine and culture around me! Furthering my studies down under is such an amazing opportunity to embrace new adventures and create lasting memories! (Submitted on January 11, 2024)

Week 1- Culture Shock

Submitted by Matt Sternheim on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in Sydney, Australia…

Myself and Arnie the koala at the wildlife sanctuary about an hour out of Sydney. He was a very nice guy (koala).

Coming into my study abroad experience, I did not know much about what to expect. While I did do my research, I was not actually in Australia yet, and I found a lot of contradicting information. One of the main themes I picked up on was that Australia, and even more so Sydney, is a lot like the US in terms of people and culture. After being here for a week, I can say that this is both true and false at the same time. One of the main things I have noticed is Australians are certainly more laid back and reserved compared to the fast paced and in a way, high stress environment that the US produces. However, this was not necessarily something that shocked me and made me have to change anything I usually do. The biggest adjustment I have had to make is something that happens everyday, multiple times per day. Before coming here, I knew that Australians drive on the left side of the road, but I am not driving here so that aspect does not affect me too much. What I was unaware of was that they actually walk on the left side too. Countless times, I have found myself walking straight into or through large groups of people since I am just accustomed to walking on the right side; it is just muscle memory. This is the biggest culture shock I have found so far that I am still getting used to; I wonder if once I am back in the US, will I be used to walking on the left side, and have to readjust all over again? I guess we will find out. (Submitted on January 10, 2024)

The Great Ocean Road

Submitted by Sonthia Manolakos on the 2024 Winter ENGL program in Australia…

A thirteen hour bus ride seems like it wouldn’t be that enjoyable. However, the Great Ocean Road tour that my group took the first week of our trip, was quite the opposite. We started the drive to various parks along the route until we reached the first beach on our trek. The beaches along the Great Ocean Road are widely different from the East Coast beaches my friends and I are used to. Cliffs hold the beach in an encasement that spans the whole coast line. Algae and grassy moss hang from parts of the cliffs and become a beautiful little ecosystem in itself. Bugs were somewhat of a complaint amongst the group, as they also don’t parallel our east Coast comforts and land on you without remorse. However, the clouds didn’t take away from the awe we experienced from the beaches and the small towns that were built around them. (Submitted on January 10, 2024)

Food in Australia

Submitted by Emma Morandi on the 2024 Winter program in Australia…

After over 25 hours of travel, I made it to Australia! It is beyond amazing here and I am so grateful to be a part of this trip. My first impression of Australia is that the locals here are so nice. Each interaction I’ve had at a coffee shop, restaurant, shop, or even in public has been amazing. The workers here are so hospitable and make you feel like your experience is the most important thing. I definitely had a culture shock when I learned that people don’t tip here. It shocked me because the service is fantastic and everyone treats you with respect without the drive of earning money. The locals don’t judge you for being a tourist; rather enjoy starting a conversation about our culture and travel. They have welcomed us to the city and have made the transition process much easier.


Submitted by Alyson Markley on the 2024 Winter HSBM program in Australia and New Zealand…

On January 1st, I began my trip to Sydney, Australia. There were a few bumps in the road to start, my first flight was delayed 7 hours and I missed my connecting flight due to this and had to spend a night in the San Francisco airport instead. But then I caught my 15 hour flight and landed in Sydney. We started our first day pretty busy with class and lunch all together, we even had our first wine tasting. Then day 2 we had class and went grocery shopping during it to try some new snacks. We ended day 2 with a nice steak dinner at the Manly Grill. Day 3 we started off with some time in the classroom then we took public transportation to a brewery and distillery. We learned so much about the process of how to make various spirits and different beers. Now for day 4 we have a free day and we are going to spend the day on the beach and exploring the town of Manly. Everything and everyone so far has been so amazing and this trip has started so well. The locals are so polite everywhere we go and they are always smiling. We are staying in a beach town called Manly and life just feels so peaceful and simple here. I can’t wait to continue this experience and learn so much more about Australia everyday.

City without Charge

Submitted by Kayla Haynes on the 2024 Winter program in Australia…

When I first arrived in Australia, I expected to be most shocked by the time here being 16 hours ahead of the time in New York. I was not wrong in that assumption that it would be a shock. But it is not the thing that has made me most surprised. That honor belongs to the city’s free provisions for those within its streets. The tram system that runs throughout the city is like the New York Subway with different routes and stops, but it has one stark difference. Within Melbourne’s extremely busy Central Business District, the trams are free to use. Anyone in the district’s busy limits can simply get on and off, using the free transportation to get from place to place. When I learned that this system was used here, my native New Yorker brain immediately thought about how different the culture must be. Once I identified this difference, I began to see it everywhere. I saw a plethora of public bathrooms in the streets that were clean and clearly cared for, unlike many that I see walking through Manhattan. The city’s implemented systems have made me wish for more from my own home while also making me love this new one I get to stay in for the coming weeks.

Embracing Every Moment

Submitted by Stephanie Stapf on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand and Australia…

We are now at our final location, which is a town in Australia called Brisbane. We started off by attending a cultural tour where we learned about the Aboriginal people of the country. The tour guide provided us with extremely detailed and insightful information about indigenous practices, including those of her own tribe. I learned that the Aboriginal people were historically able to make use of the environment using knowledge equivalent to the present discoveries of scientists. Additionally, in Australia, the indigenous land is recognized in most public places, which is uncommon in the United States. I have realized how important and necessary this acknowledgment is, and am determined to educate myself on the historical and present indigenous cultures of my town.

Surfing in Gold Coast, Australia

The next day, we hopped onto a train and headed to the beaches of Gold Coast. When we arrived, the surfboards were out and ready for us. I was pretty nervous and did not think I would be able to come close to standing up on one. I ended up doing much better than I had anticipated, and rode a wave nearly all the way to shore! Surfing has never been an item on my bucket list, but I am so glad that this program pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Activities like this have made me so appreciative of this opportunity and all of the adventures I have been able to pursue. I do not think I would have signed up for a surfing lesson on my own before this, and now I can say that I am eager to surf again. 

As our final week approaches, I am trying my best to embrace every moment. I am looking forward to learning more about Brisbane, as well as more about myself. Every day has been a new adventure, and I am not quite done exploring Australia yet.