Students studying abroad through BCA Australia attend Macquarie University, which enrolls approximately 35,000 students and has four principal faculties: Business and Economics, Arts, Science, and Human Sciences. Students majoring within the biology, business, chemistry and biochemistry, education, fine and performing arts, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology departments at Elizabethtown can find courses specific to their major, however many students otherwise can fulfill their Elizabethtown College Core Program courses in Sydney. Students studying with BCA at Macquarie are fully integrated into the university and take all their classes with Australian students. Classes at Macquarie are much larger than those here at Elizabethtown, and most classes have both a lecture and a lab component meeting on different days. Lab sections serve as a way to further discuss the material discussed in lecture, serving as participation points for that class, and typically consist of about fifteen students from the larger lecture class. Grading is generally much different from American grading scales and a High Distinction (HD) is the highest attainable grade. (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
City and Local Attractions
Sydney, the largest city in Australia with a population of approximately 4.5 million people, is a beautiful city located right on the Pacific Ocean. It has an excellent reputation as being one of the cleanest cities in Australia. The city itself is about twenty minutes by train from where the students live and attend school. Some of the biggest attractions in Sydney include:
- Sydney Harbour Bridge: the bridge that connects North Sydney with The Rocks. Visitors can walk or ride their bicycle across the bridge for free, have a picnic beneath it, or even scale the side through an organized climbing agency.
- Sydney Opera House: one of the most historic landmarks in the city. Visitors can attend an opera performance or simply have a guided tour of the building.
- Darling Harbour: an inlet at the port area of the city with many attractions for visitors, including several museums and an aquarium.
- Sydney Olympic Park: the home of the 2000 Summer Olympics where visitors can tour the park itself as well as participate in athletic activities.
- The Rocks: a district of the city containing many of Sydney's museums and historical sites.
Students who study abroad in Australia often recommend buying a cell phone in Australia in order to communicate primarily with study abroad friends and host families. The most common telephone companies from which students will buy cell phones include Proximus, Mobistar, and Base. Most students buy pay-as-you-go phones, which cost on average about A$60, and students buy additional minutes as necessary throughout their semester abroad. Students recommend communication with family and friends in the United States through Skype or a similar video chat program. All students have access to the Internet in their apartments; however Macquarie also has computer labs similar to Elizabethtown's academic buildings'.
"I got a cell phone when I got there through Vodafone. I got the cheapest phone and I remember it being around A$60, and then I put A$20 worth of minutes on it each month and that was plenty. From that phone, I could call numbers in the United States or in Australia. They had a wide range of plans, but that one was the most common for study abroad students. Each room came with an Internet cable as well as Internet, a kettle, a fan, a portable heater, and each room had its own sink. On campus, there were computer labs and wireless spots like in the High Library." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"I didn't experience any real culture shock. Australians quickly recognize the American accent and will talk to you just to hear it. The biggest difference for me was adjusting to the change in time zone. Most of the time (since Australia does not use Daylight Saving Time), the time difference was sixteen hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time so jet lag can be a major issue." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"Unlike many of the other BCA programs, there is no program director in residence at Sydney. We would receive e-mails periodically that would tell us about upcoming excursions. Typically, they would say that a van would pick us up and that we had prepaid reservations at hotels and restaurants. The main excursion we got was to the Blue Mountains, which was a great experience to the mountain range just west of Sydney. The park has a number of lookout points and scenic trails. We had a tour guide and went on a trip to a wildlife park—BCA paid for all our hotel rooms and dinners. Looking back it was weird that we would go to a restaurant in a town where we had never been and they would already have our names and our bill would be paid for us. It always worked out." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"Australians do not tip in restaurants, nor do they tip other people who provide services such as taxi drivers. They had most American types of food, but I was surprised to see how much Asian food they had, due to Asia's proximity to Australia. Some odd things (to us) they ate included Vegemite, eggs on hamburgers, a spaghetti-type pasta for breakfast, kangaroo meat, and some different kinds of seasoning. Fish and chips are more popular than they are in the United States and many Australians eat potato wedges instead of French fries that were big and came with a chili and sour cream dipping sauce. I think students can generally always find something they like though." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"We lived in a dormitory setting, but it was called college. Every student had his or her own room, but there were communal bathrooms. All floors and bathrooms were co-ed (meaning girls and guys use the same bathroom). We had a cafeteria, which will really make you appreciate Elizabethtown's, but it was nice to not have to worry about food." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"ATMs were all over the place, especially in the city. Once I got there I never really exchanged money I would just use the ATM but I did see places to exchange money. The only time I actually exchanged money was when I exchanged AUS currency for NZ currency. There is a mall, or what they call a shopping center, close to the college. It is pretty big and has banks in it (for an ATM), food courts, restaurants, grocery store, vodaphone store, clothing shops, their store like Walmart, so you can pretty much get anything you need/forgot there." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"There are a number of bars around the college and one on campus. Most of the time, we went into Sydney to go to clubs and bars or to go to festivals or shows. It seems that Australians never get bored. The only problem is that everything is more expensive there." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"Don't feel the need to pack all your hair products or shampoos or soaps because they have all the major brands that we are use to there and that's just wasted space in the suitcase. Everything is more expensive there, but if you like to read books are particularly high in cost so bring those. The college provides bedding like sheets, blankets, and pillows (and even washes your sheets) so don't bring that stuff either. Since it is really just a big island they don't allow a lot of things that have not been introduced there yet. Check the customs list if you plan on bringing food over or else you will be stuck in customs. The plane ride is very long... back stuff to do. Most places you would go to at night (like bars) require close toed shoes... don't plan on wearing flip flops every night back other shoes." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"Around where we lived I didn't see too many churches, and I didn't know of anyone who went to them. There was a Christian CRU type group on campus that had Bible studies. The college provided some service opportunities that you could be a part of." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"The only time we ever took a taxi was to get a ride from the city to college. It was expensive like $50-$60. Most of the time we took the train (similar to the subway or metro here) or the bus. It depended on where you wanted to go but it was around the $5-$10 range. The reason we sometimes had to take the taxi home is because the train/bus stop running later at night. I recommend the train or bus, and the train even goes to the airport if you want to travel. Once we got to the city we always just walked (which can sometimes be a long walk) but it was never bad." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11)
"It's warm to hot in Sydney all the time. Even the Australian winter is not anything close to the American winter and I had many friends who had never seen snow before. I took one fall jacket and was fine. Take several pairs of shorts, bathing suits, and sunscreen because Sydney has a number of beaches and no ozone layer." (Kaitlyn Bridgeman '11).