Finding housing can be one of the most stressful aspects of coming abroad. Will I be in a good location? How does one pay rent in international currency? Will I like my flatmates? How will I inspect the place without being in the country? It is normal to have no idea how any looks/works in a foreign country prior to arriving.
In order to answer these questions, I chose to stay in a hostel for my first week in Australia and I decided to join a lot of facebook housing pages with the university. Thankfully, right before I arrived I found a post to take over someone’s contract at the on-campus housing accommodation, the UNSW Village. I was able to view it when I arrived and get a sense of the area I would be living in. This was my most convenient option given that it was on-campus, trusted through the uni, and I would be around other students to make friends.
When I finally moved in, I had to attend a UNSW Village orientation. This was a good opportunity to meet other students and see what life is like in the Village. A lot of exchange students happened to be moving into the Village and this was my opportunity to make friends that I would always be around. The Village also provides a lot of free or discounted events each month, which has given me the opportunity to explore Sydney and learn about different cultures through different cuisines being served at events.
During orientation, we got to try a common meal in Australia called a sizzle, which is basically their version of a hot dog, except with sausage.
The Village has given me a lot of opportunities to meet new people and learn about Australia. Some of my favorites have been the opportunity to take a tour and learn about the history of the Opera House, do a Harbour Bridge walk, Indian food night, and trivia nights. I would highly recommend living in some on campus accommodation if studying abroad. Here are some photos taken inside the Opera House and on the Harbour Bridge:
Some of the most interesting facts I learned while touring the Opera House was that the architect, Jorn Utzon, was chosen based on a competition and the best design won; he never got to see his masterpiece in person fully finished. Also, each theater is built with certain designs and temperatures, so different sounds can bounce off the tiles or architecture within depending on the type of music being played or sung in the particular theater. Lastly, the tiles on the Opera House are all self-cleaning through rainfall.
The Village has not only provided me a safe place to stay in, but also a chance to truly immerse myself in this country and university activities.