Semester Abroad, Global Correspondents On Top of the World Down Under

February 19, 2024
By Annabel Sumardi, CAS '24

Annabelone of the Semester Abroad Global Correspondents, shares his experience abroad during the Spring 2024 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.

From surfing some waves to watching penguins waddle ashore, my first weeks abroad have been a whirlwind of fun. I feel extremely lucky to have the chance to explore the land Down Under for this semester.

Minnehaha Fall, Blue Mountains
Minnehaha Fall, Blue Mountains

The first weeks here kept me on my toes, with new experiences around every corner. The first highlight was surf camp, a three-day weekend at a beach further south from Sydney. Two full days of surfing and meeting new friends was the perfect way to start my Aussie experience. Despite the pouring rain on the second surf day, we managed to figure out how to stand on our boards through whatever weather conditions.

Beyond chasing waves, Australia's beauty extends past its beaches. In recent weeks, I explored the waterfalls and swung from ropes into crystal-clear pools, surrounded by mountains, flora, and fauna. These moments make me entirely thankful for the chance to adventure across Australia, as I feel transported into new worlds entirely. It feels as close as I’ll get to entering Pandora, if you have ever watched Avatar.

One of the most memorable experiences so far has been watching the Penguin Parade. As the sun sets, hundreds of penguins emerge from the sea and waddle their way back to land. This event happens near Melbourne, a quick one hour flight from Sydney. While we had a couple mishaps figuring out transport to Phillip Island, we ultimately adapted and enjoyed a night full of
penguins and beaches.

I’ll try not to mislead you, as my first few weeks in Australia have not been entirely spent outdoors. From trivia nights to movie marathons, I've also been enjoying the indoor options that Sydney has to offer. These options include the classic tourist areas that I’ve made sure to check off my list. With free museums and botanical gardens at every turn, there's always something new to discover. Learning about Indigenous art or seeing the Sydney Opera House in person for the first time are core memories for me. Plus, the $3 sushi rolls have become a staple in my diet, and I don’t know what I’ll do when I have to return to a regularly priced roll in the States.

Reflecting on my first weeks abroad, I can't help but feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Living in Australia has exceeded my expectations in a multitude of ways, with unbeatable weather, beautiful beaches, and lovely people. Australia truly feels like home, and I can't wait to see what the rest of my adventure has in store. Cheers to the Aussie way of life!

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The Semester Abroad (SA) program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in a new global community through extended study for a semester or year. Penn Abroad partners with top institutions around the globe and collaborates with Penn’s undergraduate schools to offer programs for students across academic disciplines.

Semester Abroad, Global Correspondents
by Annabel Sumardi, CAS '24