Expectations vs. Reality: Sydney Edition

Prior to studying abroad, I tried to do a little research on Sydney from its culture, history and creating a small list of what I wanted to see and do through my semester stay. Though some of my expectations prior to coming to Sydney were spot on, most of the realities of my everyday life here have been pretty different.


I underestimated the length and effort of going to class three and a half hours per course. I am so use to attending two fifty minute or at most one hour and fifteen minute courses at Pitt twice a week. I can attest to how difficult it is to maintain full concentration in class. Content wise in classes here, I did not expect there to be so much emphasis on readings and online discussions. Along with this is the sheer number of group projects assigned. At Pitt I am very use to some out of the classroom homeworks, but mostly grades being made up of mid-terms, presentations and final exams. The academic system here is different, but I feel like I’m getting use to the changes.


Learning about the history of the first colonials and the Indigenous People of Australia has been so exciting and informative. In my Analyzing and Exploring Sydney class I have found myself learning about the deep and controversial history of Australia’s beginnings. Even though the history is not so taboo to talk about, I underestimated the remaining feelings of the Aboriginal People and their thoughts and relationship with the government today.


Before coming here, I knew that Sydney was a large city, but I truly underestimated just HOW expansive the city is. There is not nearly enough time to see and do everything here like visit the hundreds of beaches, the parks, the food, etc. With that said, there is so much I planned to see and do outside of Sydney both still within Australia and outside of Australia. I love that Sydney has so much to offer and I think I will just have to come back in the future.


Even though the language spoken primarily here is English, it is very much English with a lot of Australian slang. I find myself often following up with a ‘sorry?’ or asking for further clarification. There are so many slang words used here, but luckily I feel as though I’m starting to pick some up. Small differences include: arvo for afternoon, takeaway for takeout, Maccas for McDonalds, queue for referring to a line, etc.

Overall, I find myself feeling like this place is a home away from home. I feel so comfortable navigating my way around the city and have truly fallen in love with everything it has to offer. Even though my expectations coming into this new place have adapted and changed, it has all been for the better.