By Kalei Munsell, Foster Undergraduate who is participating in an exchange with the University of Sydney.
The first thing every Sydney-sider asks me as an exchange student is: “Why Australia?”. I never expected this to be such a common question, but the more I was asked, the more I analyzed my own decision. So many students instantly think of Europe or Asia as their go-to study abroad destination—and I have to admit that was my first plan as well. Both continents enticed me with their ability to travel so many unique countries in such a short period of time, while Australia felt almost isolated in comparison. Where else was I going to hop on a train and take a “quick weekend trip”? Traveling Australia is not particularly easy. Cities are few and far between, and a 3-hour plane ride is necessary to reach any other body of land. That being said, ending up in Australia for study abroad is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
All that being said, my first 6 weeks in Sydney have been the most amazing few weeks of my life. I’ve gone surfing in the dead of Winter, hugged a wild kangaroo, and sled down enormous golden sand dunes. There are not many places in the world you can go from big city, to beautiful isolated beach, to endless views of tropical greenery, all in under 30-minutes. Sydney has one of the most diverse outdoor experiences I can imagine, and I’ve fallen in love with every aspect of it.
A huge part of what has made study abroad so memorable are the people I’ve met. Funny enough, the types of students that chooses to study abroad are generally extremely outgoing and open to trying new things. Even more than that, the type of students that choose to study abroad in Australia are often outdoors-y and adventurous. Everyone here has been so easy to get-to-know and explore with. I feel like I’ve known these people my whole life, and I’m already dreading the idea of going back to Seattle in a few months without them.
So, “Why Australia?”. I’m here for an adventure, opportunity to experience new things with new people, and step outside of my comfort zone.