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Studying Abroad & Living in a Global City

Feb 10, 2016 8:30:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring2016_From_Kisha_PAtel_-_Official_CAPA_Blogger_Image.jpegKisha Patel is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A political science and gender/women's studies major at Ursinus College, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

In this week's post, Kisha talks about what it's like to live and study in a global city.

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One of my favorite aspects of living in Sydney is the fact that I live in a global city. I am completely immersed in a hub of diversity in background, religion, orientation, culture, citizenship, education, etc. This produces a dynamic environment full of an incredibly unique experiences.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Unknown

What is a global city? A global city as defined by CAPA is multi-layered, multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, complex and challenging. This is why CAPA has programs such amazing locations as Sydney, London and Florence.

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Photo:
The iconic Sydney Opera House.

Everywhere you go in Sydney, you can meet someone with an incredible story. However, to find these people and learn these stories, you have to be willing to ask. Living in a city like this is an opportunity to really push through walls and ideations to uncover the entire world, right in your city. Ask questions, listen actively, try new places, be open-minded and you will be surprised at how much you can find.

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Photo: Visited Newtown (a typically hipster-esque/vegan friendly/earth-friendly town) and tried Kombucha for the first time. Kombucha is a fermented juice drink that is supposed to be incredibly good for the body.

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

One day at my internship, we had a post-work fundraiser party. I struck up a conversation with the bartender working the event and found out she was from Lithuania. I even learned how to thank her in Lithuanian (AH-choo = Thank You)!

One of the coolest things about Sydney is that there are so many little niches of cultures hidden in plain sight. Chinatown, for example, is a large area full of great restaurants, stores, and markets where you are directly immersed within the Chinese community in Sydney. Similarly, there are Spanish hubs, Thai towns, Indian areas, etc.

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Photo: The famous friendship gate to Chinatown that reads “Within the 4 seas, all men are brothers”

Even beyond the cultural diversity, you can find people from so many different walks of life. Backpacker districts are some of the coolest places to meet new people. Throughout the last few weeks in Sydney, I have met people from London, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, China, Thailand, Mexico, Africa, Ireland and more that are here on gap years or early in their careers, traveling the world. Similarly, I met many working professionals that have come to Sydney from various corners of the world. My internship, for example, has lawyers that originate from other countries but upon studying abroad or visiting Sydney, loved it so much they moved here.

Living in a global city is about more than just meeting people. It also allows you to experience a unique culture.

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Photo: 
There was a really cool Serbian Festival at Darling Harbour in Sydney that had authentic dancing, food, and other cultural events.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James Michener

I’m really lucky to be here for many cultural events such as the Chinese New Year. There will be a city-wide New Year festival that will enable me to learn more about the Chinese holiday.

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Photo: We went to the Chinese Garden of Friendship to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Definitely a must see for anyone in Sydney!!

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Photo: The city is covered in beautiful lanterns to celebrate the New Year. This picture is right near my internship at Martin Place.

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Photo: Authentic Chinese wardrobe at the Chinese Garden of Friendship

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Photo: I got to share my wishes and hopes for the upcoming year of the monkey at the hanging wishes wall at the Chinese Garden of Friendship

I look forward to being in Sydney for Mardi Gras and the LGBTQ festivals too. I am also very excited to be learning about aboriginal history. One of the advantages of being on Student Council at CAPA is getting to plan the My Global Education events, which are fun activities in Sydney that also have a learning and cultural aspect. Some of the events we are thinking about include the Australian Surf Open, an Opera House Tour, a Rugby game, and more! I think these events will be a great way to learn more about Australia while having a great time with fellow CAPA students.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” ― Clifton Fadiman

Sydney has so much to teach me and I am incredibly excited to learn. Some of my biggest learning moments are actually coming from my courses abroad. I am taking "Australian Government and Politics" along with "Gender, Culture, and Society".

I have recently been learning all about the Australian government system that is a constitutional monarchy, which turns out to be incredibly different from our American democracy. I learned tremendously about the party structure and the voting system as well. One of the most interesting things I have learned is that Australia does not have a bill of rights and many people have proposed one be written. This question led me to ask deeper questions about Australian culture, such as what human rights protections exist here already? Who gets to decide what they should be? What rights need protection? This lead me to want to know more about public opinion and societal norms in Australia.

My gender studies class demonstrates the opinion of gender issues in Australia in relation to other countries which has been incredibly interesting to compare to American feminism.

My internship has definitely been my biggest learning opportunity. I am so privileged to be placed at an amazing law firm that has been teaching me so much. Australia follows the British legal system and I am really fascinated with how the system works, in particularly with the solicitor/barrister relationship that we do not have in American law. My firm has been allowing me to go to court and watch these cases unfold and truly be able to understand Australian law from a hands-on perspective.

I think often, as students, we take for granted how much our education provides us and how much we can truly learn and grow from what we study. We begin to view school and taking courses as an obligation or a roadstop on the way to a career instead of valuing how much we can really learn. I encourage any students studying abroad to take courses that are more than just on the checklist for your degree. Take classes that genuinely study the culture and history of your host country.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

As I reflect back on the past few weeks of my study abroad experience, I still cannot manage to comprehend how remarkable this opportunity is. I still find myself awed about how much I am learning and seeing in just the short amount of time I have been here. CAPA gave me this new world view from Sydney and for that I am truly grateful.

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Photo: Friends celebrating and learning about Chinese culture at the Garden of Friendship.

Thanks Kisha! Like this article and want to read more? Subscribe to our blog below!

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Kisha's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Official Bloggers and Vloggers