Finding My Way In The Land Down Under: Why I Chose Sydney

Hello, fellow terriers. My name is Caitlin Burke. I am a junior studying public relations in the College of Communication. This spring semester, I am completing the Sydney, Australia Internship Program, and more specifically, the Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations track.

Snapshot of the Opera House on the Orientation Boat Cruise

The Sydney Internship Program consists of students completing one Australian anthropology course, two elective courses of their choice, and one internship at an organization within their field(s) of interest. I thought it would be helpful for others considering studying abroad to read my initial reasons to travel to Sydney — far away from everything I have ever known.

The Royal Botanic Gardens

I am from Sutton, Massachusetts, a small rural farm town right outside of Worcester in central Massachusetts. Growing up, my commute to school was approximately three minutes. I could name every single classmate that would pass by me in the hallways.  My hometown is the type of place where every corner of it could be explored in one day if you really wanted to. Nothing happened back home without most (if not all) residents knowing about it.

The Central Business District

In addition to this, my hometown had very little diversity — in regards to both race and culture. Most of my fellow classmates and all of my teachers were white and practiced cultures originating from Europe. That being said, I had very little opportunity to meet other people from other cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, etc.  As a person who admires finding mutual understanding with others and learning new ways of thinking, this was very frustrating and difficult for many years.

The Sydney Skyline from Nielsen Park 

Boston University immediately stole my heart when I toured campus.  I felt like the university I had always daydreamed about was personified right in front of me. Displaying the school’s pride and consideration for diversity was at the very forefront of each conversation I had with my tour guide.  

While walking down Commonwealth Avenue, I noticed that no two students looked the same. Even the large variety of available programs at BU was a true reality filled with diversity; every student seemed excited to share something new about what they were studying and why their academic field was significant for them.

Although I am a short 40-minute drive away from my hometown while studying in Boston, the city is a completely different environment than home, which allows me to feel farther away and on my own. After completing two and a half years of my academic journey on campus, I began to crave a sense of travel all over again. Once more, I felt the need to visit someplace new to meet new people, introduce myself to new cultures, and find a new way of life.

I needed to go farther away from home this time. I needed to be far away because I knew I wanted to feel completely on my own. Being close to home in Boston is a comfort that I appreciate every day, but I wanted an abroad experience that would push me to settle down in some place where my family and every familiarity from growing up was not a short drive away.

As I write this, my third official week in Sydney is coming to a close. In three weeks, I have already met many wonderful people from all over the world — incredible, insightful people looking for a new start just like me. I have traveled to multiple beaches and surfed for the first time, tasted different wines in Hunter Valley with new friends for our Australian Wine Industry course, cried at the power displayed at an Aboriginal festival on Australia Day, and much more. 

I am excited to share the rest of my journey with you all over the course of this semester. To those who may be where I was, feeling stuck and yearning for change and new opportunities, give generous consideration to studying abroad if you can. Although it is difficult being far away, and I miss walking around the city of Boston with my friends, I am sure I have made one of the best decisions of my life.


Caitlin Burke, Study Abroad Correspondent

Caitlin Burke is a junior studying public relations in the College of Communication at Boston University.  She has over two years of experience studying public relations and media-based communication in the College of Communication, as well as two years of experience studying liberal arts in the College of General Studies Spring-Sydney Program. Singing and writing are Caitlin’s greatest passions because they are hobbies that embrace individuality and creativity. Inspired by her love for literature and the arts, Caitlin enjoys studying mass communication because she views it as another way to create with a purpose while connecting with other people. 

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