Flying Across the World for a Semester in Australia

Oct 7, 2022 1:30:00 PM / by Eliza Drohan

All your thoughts and questions about preparing to study abroad in Australia are answered. Eliza Drohan, a University of Pittsburgh student, takes into account things you have to be ready for, such as navigating flight details and airports, packing adequately for a semester, and handling a long journey across the world. Read up and stay one step ahead!

So you’re traveling to Australia, ay?

The 24-hour flight is intimidating…to say the least. Not only are you “losing” an entire day to travels, but you have to take into account everything else that traveling means: navigating new airports, sitting for long periods of time, spending an absurd amount of money for a bag of chips and a sandwich, navigating through crowds, and more. Now imagine all of that but by yourself. So the question is—how do you start preparing for it all?

evening view of the sky with the plane's wing

On my flight leaving Pittsburgh.

Buying a Ticket

No matter how many different websites or times of day you search, the short answer is this: the flight is going to be pretty expensive. No need to dwell on it, it’ll all be worth it in the end. What you can do is put in a little bit of extra research to try and save (at least) a little bit of money. The airlines I looked at were United, Qantas, and Delta. My best option ended up being Qantas. Although I had two different stops, Charlotte and LA, I knew I could make it work. When booking, I looked for the least expensive option that was still in a reasonable time frame. I would rather pay the extra hundred dollars to not have a 30+ hour flight. Plus, both of my layovers were the perfect amount of time to get where I needed to without having to run and feel rushed. Even though I had that extra stop, my travel time was still within the average full day of travel.


Packing is going to be a very important part of the process—both long and short term. 

Long-term: this is what you are going to be stuck with for three months in a foreign country! Check the weather, decide what you really need, and make it count! I ended up packing one checked bag, one carry-on, and my bookbag. For more details, my packing list is here as well as the storage cubes I used. In addition, make sure you have packed a couple of essentials in your carry-on in case anything happens to your main luggage.

Short term: make sure you pack a miniature “overnight bag” in your bookbag. By this I mean a toothbrush and toothpaste, mini deodorant, phone charger, lots of snacks, and any other essentials you may need. You are basically packing for a mini one-night stay somewhere if you think about it.

2 boxes of RX protein bars

RXBAR—some of my favorite bars!

While Traveling

Traveling alone is in and of itself sometimes stressful and scary—you have no one else telling you where to go or what do to. Now, traveling abroad, specifically the furthest you could ever go, is an entirely new adventure.

  1. Stay alert with timing

  2. Check-in in advance

  3. Double..no…TRIPLE check your connections

  4. Be TSA-ready— take out your laptop, your shoes off, empty your pockets, etc.

  5. Try to stay awake till your flight from the US to Australia

Staying Busy

The anticipation of traveling may be heightened, so you will need to find some activities to do on your flights. Make sure to have some things handy for you trip—this is what I packed and some other suggestions:

  • Book!—a casual read and maybe some information about Australia; I am currently reading Bill Bryson’s “Down Under” and National Geographic’s “Australia”

  • Download podcasts, music and movies to play offline

  • Journal— write about the journey so far, how you are feeling, and anything funny that happened on the way over

  • Snacks

  • Watch the latest movies on the long flight

Although finding things to do is important, try and sleep as much as you can. The flight attendant will pass out blankets and sleeping masks which can help you be a bit more comfortable.

National Geographic book about Australia

The National Geographic book about Australia.


When arriving in a new country, the setup is going to be a bit different. Luckily, there is no English-language barrier in Australia so asking for help will be easy. When arriving in the Sydney airport, make sure just to follow the crowds and read the signs. Check for the symbol on your passport — you may be able to skip the lines! Scan your passport through a kiosk (you’ll see people in front of them) and you’ll get a ticket to quickly go through customs. There were a lot of people arriving at the same time I was, so it was quite crowded. The longest part of the process was waiting for the exit!

Sydney Opera House in the afternoon with the sea in view

The Sydney Opera House.

All this traveling is going to be exhausting, especially with the time zone difference. However, after a few days to get adjusted you’ll soon realize it is all worth it! Once you get all settled in, go and venture out, enjoy the beautiful city, and get a delicious meal.

Thanks, Eliza!

Eliza Drohan

Eliza Drohan was an official CEA CAPA blogger for fall 2022, sharing
her story in frequent posts on our blog. A Finance and Human Resource Management major at University of Pittsburgh, she studied abroad in Sydney. 


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Topics: Sydney, Australia, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations

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