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Sydney Internship and Study Abroad Program: Olivia Klosterman ’18

Olivia Klosterman ’18 in Sydney

Looking back on the last four months in Australia, I cannot believe how much I have been able to experience in just one semester. My time in Australia has differed a little from the rest of the group since my sister just moved to Sydney with her Aussie husband. My brother-in-law, Calvin, was eager to show me the “real Australian experience,” which I quickly learned consisted of exploring beautiful places and eating meat pies while rooting for his favorite Australian rules football team.

Ralph

One weekend, we set out to the Blue Mountains with their dog, Ralph, to go hiking in one of the area’s most scenic locations. The views were breathtaking and the wildlife was active. The speed of Ralph’s tail wagging accurately captured the excitement of seeing the beauty of nature at its finest. After our hike, Calvin took us to the main hangout where all the locals congregated. Unlike the typical Sydney crowd, the rural community was much more relaxed and easy-going. Even though I had lived in Sydney for a few months by this point, observing this facet of Australian culture made me realize how much I still have to explore.

The next stop on Calvin’s tour was his hometown, Melbourne. Our first morning there, we set out for the city’s famous sanctuary to see Australian wildlife. We saw all of the classics including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, dingoes, wombats, and Tasmanian devils. Unfortunately for Ralph, no dogs were allowed. However, his tail probably would have been another good measure for the excitement of seeing so many unique species for the first time in person.

Later that night, our focus shifted to the second half of Calvin’s “real Australian experience,” rooting for the Essendon Bombers in a highly anticipated match against their rivals. Before leaving to watch the match at Calvin’s brother’s house, Calvin’s mom insisted that I borrow her red cardigan in order to be in appropriate Bombers colors. Unfortunately for Ralph, Calvin’s brother owns cats so he couldn’t come. This was shaping up to be a disappointing weekend for Ralph. However, I had an incredible experience; for the first time, I felt completely immersed in another culture. Watching an Australian rules football game in a room full of Australians, having a favorite team, and understanding enough to know when to cheer, made me feel like I really was a part of their culture.

Though weekend trips with my sister, Calvin, and Ralph always promise a fun adventure, my time in Sydney with our W&L group has been equally as exciting. With the city’s extensive train system and so many gorgeous beaches only a ferry away, we always have somewhere new to explore. Though we have a seemingly never-ending list of places to go, we still make time for the classroom, of course. The University of Sydney provides such a different academic experience compared to W&L. Each course consists of two types of classes, lectures and tutorials. Lectures are less intimate, often seating over a hundred students, while tutorials are more similar to the class structure at W&L, as they are smaller and more discussion driven. Though the consensus in our group is that we much prefer the tutorials, it is still fascinating to gain exposure to another way of learning.

As we enter the final exam period, we are all sad to see our time in Sydney come to an end. We have had so many great experiences that made Sydney truly feel like our home for the past four months. Though our group is currently scattered across Thailand and Vietnam for the pre-exam week break (I wasn’t so lucky with my exam schedule), I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are all incredibly grateful for Professor Irani for putting together this program.