4 Expectations About Studying Abroad in Sydney vs. What It's Actually Like

Feb 8, 2020 11:15:00 AM / by Emma Estabrook

Emma is here to set the record straight on life in Sydney so far. Expectations vs. reality - are you ready? Get into this myth debunking post featuring Sydney's beaches, people, classes, and more!

Expectation: You step off the plane and are greeted by a sea of tan, long blonde-haired Australian surfers.


50% of the people who live in Australia were not born here originally. That makes for a melting pot of all different kinds of people! I find it pretty hard to tell if someone I meet is from here or not. When the people in a country come from all over it just makes the locals that much more interesting to talk to. The good news is, most people in Australia live up to the stereotype of being super friendly and will be very happy to talk to you if you ask them for something as little as street directions!

Ferris WheelAll different kinds of people live in and visit Sydney!

Expectation: You will be able to take a short walk to the beach every day after class.


Sydney is a CITY!! One of the biggest surprises that I didn’t think about was how far the beaches were from our living situation. You will most likely not have time to go to the beach during the week while balancing classes, internships, and schoolwork (yes, you actually have to do work on study abroad!). Also, while most of the time it is sunny, my first week here poured rain every day!

Rainy DayWalking through Darling Harbor in the rain!

Expectation: You will not actually have school work abroad.


You will have schoolwork. The good news is all of your professors are well aware that you are on study and abroad living an entirely new exciting country! CAPA does a great job of making it easier for students to have time to do things outside of school. Instead of having multiple class periods a week for one class you will just have one long class a week. So, this means if you are taking 4 classes you will only have class four times a week.

Bondi BeachOn the weekends you have plenty of time to do fun things like hit Bondi Beach.

Expectation: Doing an internship in Sydney is very relaxed and will not take up that much time.


20 hours a week may not seem like a lot but when you are balancing everything between school, travel, and other things it becomes a big time commitment! For me, I have a combination of either classes or going into work every day from 9-5pm Monday through Thursday. I got lucky and I only have about a 25-minute walk commute to my internship at a startup building downtown. BUT this will not always be the case. I know many people on my program who have over an hour-and-a-half commute! So that can add up to 9 more hours a week just for commuting to work. I would say that in my case the working environment that I am in in Sydney is very relaxed. I work at a small startup where there are only six people that work there, and they are all great friends which makes for a much more fun environment. We get lunch together every day and often have mini pool tournaments when we have some down time.

Public TransportThis is what the subway looks like in Sydney that some people take to work. It is very clean and easy to use with our Opal cards provided to us by CAPA.

Although some of these may have changed your perspective on Sydney they really just add to the experience!

Thanks, Emma!

Minh Ta


Emma Estabrook is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Finance and Business Information Systems major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Emma's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations