When choosing a destination to study abroad, lots of students immediately flock to Europe for the quintessential study abroad experience. Filled with baguettes, wine, and city-hopping, there’s no doubt that Europe is a great place to live for a semester. Australia often gets overlooked as a study abroad destination, but its never-ending beaches and history will make you think twice while deciding where to spend your semester abroad.
1. Beaches for DAYS.
Having gone to school in the midwest, I was ready to trade a harsh winter for a semester filled with sun and beaches. I chose to study abroad in Sydney, Australia and it was the perfect location as there was sun and sand as far as the eye could see. The best part was heading straight from the classroom to the beach to soak up the sun! Some of my personal favorites in Sydney were Manly Beach, Bronte Beach, and Coogi Beach. There’s also a really cool area in Melbourne called the Great Ocean Road that is breathtaking.
2. Explore the Great Barrier Reef and other amazing nature.
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef was definitely on my bucket list and studying abroad in Australia gave me the opportunity to travel to Cairns and see this wonder with my own eyes! It truly is a special experience to see the reef in person, but the Great Barrier Reef isn’t the only natural beauty Australia has to offer. There are beaches, national parks, coastal hikes, pink lakes and more to explore. So if you’re an outdoorsy person, Australia has plenty to keep you busy.
3. Spend time getting to know your city.
Since the size of Australia is similar to America, hopping on a plane every weekend isn’t always convenient or affordable. Compared to most European study abroad destinations where weekend travel is easy, studying abroad in Sydney truly allowed me to immerse myself in the city. This is one of the main reasons I chose to study abroad here, because it gave me time to learn about so many parts of the city that I wouldn’t have otherwise. By the end of the semester, my friends and I all felt like Sydney locals. We knew which bars, restaurants, beaches and neighborhoods weren’t touristy.
4. Acai bowls, smoothies, and health food everywhere!
One of my go-to dishes in Australia for pretty much every meal of the day were acai bowls. They are ever-present throughout Sydney, and I swear I never had a bad one. If you ever wanted to change up your eating habits, this is the place for you. There are tons of vegan and vegetarian cafes catering to all your dietary adventures.
5. Commit to the time difference.
Simply going on a short vacation to Australia can be quite difficult with the time difference and the amount of time it takes just to get there. However, studying abroad is really the best time to take advantage of this and commit to the time difference. The 14-16 hour time change may make your window of communication to the US difficult at times, but it will truly push you to connect with friends in Australia and the city around you. Use it to your advantage!
6. Explore unique cities across the country.
When you are ready for a weekend getaway, there are tons of unique, modern cities to explore! Sydney is comparable to a San Francisco and Melbourne is comparable to NYC, but there are other unique cities like Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Newcastle, Adelaide and more, each boasting their own personality and totally worth exploring! Take the time to do your research and figure out which cities interest you the most before planning an epic weekend. During my semester, I made weekend trips to Melbourne, Uluru, and Whitsundays, which I loved.
7. Learn about aboriginal culture.
I didn’t know anything about Australia’s history when I first arrived. But throughout my entire semester I learned so much about the country and its history, specifically the aboriginal culture! The aboriginals are the indigenous people of Australia. Whether you take a class for your study abroad program or just get out and explore museums, different cities and other landmarks, definitely take the opportunity to learn about Australia’s amazing culture.
8. Visit the incredible Uluru & the Outback.
The Outback is a place I had only heard of in terms of the American Steakhouse chain or as a mysterious place with Australian cowboys and kangaroos in the middle of nowhere. I was determined to experience it for myself and it totally exceeded my expectations. The Outback is an arid desert located in the Northern Territory. It’s also home to Uluru, a large rock formation of immense spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people. If you visit the rock, you can learn all about the stories, legends and traditions centered around this spiritual place!
9. Experience more of Southeast Asia.
From Australia, taking a flight to Southeast Asia or New Zealand is similar to hopping on a plane to Europe from New York City. You can take spring break in Thailand, Vietnam or Bali or you enjoy a long weekend trip to New Zealand. It is way easier to visit these corners of the world if you study abroad in Australia. The flights are affordable and shorter, allowing you less time with jet lag and more time exploring these beautiful countries.
I took my spring break in Thailand and then three weeks to explore Vietnam and New Zealand at the end of my semester before heading home. These trips were some of the highlights of my study abroad experience!
10. You’ll leave a piece of your heart here.
The best reason to study abroad in Australia is that you will most definitely leave a piece of your heart here. Ever since I studied abroad here, I’m constantly looking for more excuses to visit again. The easy going pace of life, endless beaches and beautiful seasons will definitely steal a piece of your heart.
Ready to plan your own trip to the land down under? We’ve got flights to Australia for ya.