Guest post: Studying abroad – guaranteed to change your life forever


This post was written by Yung-Han Cho, who writes for the Global Opportunities blog. The Global Opportunities blog features posts from University of Sheffield students studying abroad – they share their advice and experiences to encourage other students to study abroad too!

As an Englishman, I frequently discuss the subject of weather quite often. During my time at Sheffield, I have acclimatised to its sudden rains, whipping winds and chilling temperatures despite the sun shining.

Arriving in Sydney for my study abroad, I was quite shocked to find it was 17C in the middle of July. And someone said this was supposed to be winter?

Although Australia was and still is very related to Britain, it is certainly not like your average trip to another county. The first thing that struck me when I left the airport was a giant billboard for a Chinese bank. It seemed so out of place… then I saw the street, lined with Malaysian hawker food, Korean BBQ places and Asian people everywhere. Raised as a British Chinese in Yorkshire, no one ever told me that three in five people in many areas of Sydney would be born on the same on continent as me… My last experience living amongst Asians was when I was 7, I felt like that zebra from Madagascar movie suddenly seeing people who looked and spoke the same language.

As Australia is closer to Asia than Europe, the growing population of Asia has sent their children to study in there, resulting in one of the most diverse gatherings of Asian people in one place. The words “Korea-town” and “Thai-town” were actually used to distinguish areas of the city from “Chinatown”. It all seemed so strange and exciting at the same time. Imagine being able to taste the best of each Asian country’s food all on one street. It was like some kind of space portal taking you to the spices and wonders of so many places.

As I arrived in the middle of the night, my first meal was actually…McDonalds. Yeah. Interestingly, they now have “build-a-burger” options so it was a little like playing Lego with your food. Do not chose this option if you are indecisive.

A few days later after settling in, I made my way over to the beach and discovered that no matter what time of the year, Australia will always have great beaches with people everywhere. I met an incredible mix of people from Europe and elsewhere and took a hike along the coastline to… the next beach.

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This one was even more packed and had a sign that said: home of Speedo (you know the swimming trunks?). I had inadvertently stumbled upon the founding location of the world’s most well-known swimwear company. (Now HQ’d in Nottingham, UK. It makes me wonder why they moved…)

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As a Mechanical Engineering student, one of the most obvious things I noticed was this weird mish-mash of car/truck called “ute”. It was like a ford Ka and a pickup truck got married and had children…

Throughout my time at the University of New South Wales, I was able to study Spacecraft Systems, Entrepreneurial Engineering, Aircraft Design and Computer Coding. I can definitely say that no matter where you go, you will always meet awesome teachers that inspire you to stay awake until the wee hours researching more about the topic you learnt in class. There may also be teachers who are not so great and you will need to work with brutal determination (until the wee hours again) in order to succeed. You may feel a mixture of joy and despair, possibly in the same day (if you can tell which is night and day). But you always need to remember, that without experiencing something challenging, the taste of success will never be as sweet.

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To help you along with this journey, an amazing amount of freebies such as hot dog sausages wrapped in square bread with some ketchup every two or three days is provided by an incredible array of different organisations. The student union, your departmental society, the Rubik’s cube club, the Silk/Buddhist/Christian society, the sci-fi society (more accurately, sci-fi societies) and just random insurance companies, telecommunications companies, banks and tourist associations. One thing is sure, when you have a facebook group notifying everyone the schedule of free foods on offer 24/7, you know any hard times can be quickly forgotten by stuffing yourself with glorious food. See above for pictures of free “hot dogs” from the food Lovers society and below for mooncakes courtesy of the Languages school during the Chinese Moon Festival celebrations.

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So if you are reading this and preparing to leave for, or considering studying abroad, I will leave you with the same precious words that my little brother gave me when I left:

5 things you shouldn’t leave without

It’s been a while but now you go,

It’s hard to believe you’re leaving home

But you need to be free and away you roam.

Packed in your bags are little things you need

Cause knowledge grows from little seeds.

Why not a laptop, a calculator or a phone,

Surely you must need this away from home

I honestly think what you mustn’t forget

Is one of the most common things yet.

Instead of a phone, why not a brain,

Surely more knowledge you would gain

Sometimes most people forget,

It’s the most useful thing yet.

Experiences are always with you,

Off to let your future flow.

Which is why it’s my number two.

Whatever you do, you’ll never forget,

Your best memories, I’m happy to bet.

A watch is most important to keep track of time,

‘cos life is best lived in its prime.

Punctuality gets you where you need to be,

Just try it and you will see.

A smile on your face is very nice,

And it always helps to lower the price.

Wherever you go, people will see,

What a great human you can be.

It’s a life essential you can check

Fifth and finally is respect,

If you have it, life will be,

As simple as a cup of tea.

This concludes my poem and now you go,

When you’re there, you’ll always know,

Your family is what made you grow.

Off to let your future flow.

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Read more from me and others studying abroad on the Global Opportunities blog.

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