Stanford Life and Culture: An Intro for University of Sydney students

As we look forward to a week of connections between students here at Stanford University in California and students at University of Sydney, Australia, we thought we’d give our Australian partners a brief glimpse of what life is like here at the “Farm”.

Stanford University was founded in 1891, in memorial of Leland Stanford Jr., the Stanford’s only son who died of typhoid at the age of 15.  Originally, the university was established on a horse farm, giving it the nickname “The Farm.”  It opened as a co-ed university, rare for its time, and since then has become a world class research institution.  Located in Palo Alto, California, it is in the heart of Silicon Valley, home to entrepreneurs that share the Stanford’s brave risk-taking spirit.

Stanford University

Stanford after a rain shower (not photoshopped). Photograper: Naren Ramaswamy, Stanford Class of 2015

Stanford welcomes about 1700 incoming undergraduate students every year.  They are all required to take the first year writing requirement, taught by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, which teaches rhetorical analysis and research-based writing.  In the second year, all students take a course on presenting research.

picture of members of the Stanford Band

Two members of the Stanford Band take a break during the Saturday game against the Colorado Buffs. The Band is known for its unorthodox marching band style. Photographer; Molly Cain

The student body is extremely diverse, with students attending from over 33 countries.  All first year students live on campus, giving the school a strong residential family feel.  The school mascot is the Tree and its greatest rival is University of California Berkeley.  During “Big Game” week, students wear t-shirts that say “Beat Cal” or even “Fear the Tree.”

We asked our writing students to answer several questions to help us write this introduction, including:

  1. What is it like to study at Stanford University?
  2. What do you think Sydney students would be surprised to learn about Stanford student life or culture?
  3. What do you think student life is like at the University of Sydney, Australia?
  4. How would you describe Australian society and culture?
  5. What questions do you have for the students at University of Sydney?

Below is a selection of their answers.

1.  What is it like to study at Stanford University?

So far, my peers are all amazing. All of my discussion leaders, such as TA’s and grad students, are good …. However, the lectures are incredibly distancing, especially for this one class called Intro to Humanities, for which we cannot use our computers for notes. My favorite class is PWR, this class for which we are meeting you. It’s all about writing, and persuasion, and it’s awesome.

The experience is one of extremely hard work interspersed with great social moments. Stanford is home to the smartest people I have ever met, and in a way it is humbling. Additionally, it is a place of concentrated opportunity. There are few places you could, for example, take an introductory series with one of the fathers of string theory. Again, it is a heavy workload, but I should think worthwhile.

Although you attend all your classes, studying is mainly independent. You have to make the effort to study and do your homework, no one is going to remind you when it is homework time or that certain assignments are due tomorrow. However, there is the plus side of working with other people on problem sets and other homework. It is encouraged by the professors to work with other people as team work is a great skill to have.

It is an amazing opportunity. There are so many brilliant students and faculty here, and we have access to tons of resources. There is so much going on here, it is difficult to be involved in all the extra curricular activities that you’d like and balance school work.

Stanford University is a very exciting place to study at. There are always things to do and you’re always kept working at a very fast pace. The faculty here is very friendly and unlike most other universities in the United States, they usually also allow students to call them by their first name, which creates a very friendly atmosphere. So basically, studying at Stanford is fun, exciting, and never boring.

It’s really fun and intense. There are just too many things you want to study, and you have to pick only a few. The classes are very inspiring and often leave me in deep thought. For just the past two weeks, I have thought about things I have never thought about before, and have used and sprained muscles I have never used before.

2.  What do you think Sydney students would be surprised to learn about Stanford life and culture?

Stanford doesn’t just have the smart kids. Stanford students challenge themselves academically, as is expected, but they also socialize a lot. Stanford students are also good at sports, but they aren’t the typical dumb jock if they play sports. The athletes here are smart, and they can keep up with the rest of the student body.

For a seemingly academic-centered institution, its students are unbelievably athletic. It has been ranked the top school for athletics in the United States for seventeen straight years, and even those who do not play for a team play or do some sport regularly.

There are many traditions that are scattered throughout the year that the whole school participates in (ie. Band Run, Full Moon on the Quad), but mainly I think it is the amazingly friendly and open minds of everyone that provides a comforting and warm environment that anyone could find his or her place in.

The sale and possession of alcohol is illegal to students under age of 21 as a national law…. Full tuition and board costs 60,000 AUD per year (58,000 USD)

3.  What do you think student life is like at University of Sydney?

I read a statistic somewhere saying that most students in Australia don’t live on campus but somewhere else, so I would imagine there’s an issue of a lack of a community feel at Australia universities.

I think it’s similar to life here at Stanford. I honestly don’t know much about the University of Sydney, Australia, but most colleges are the same in that there are those kids who push themselves to achieve goals, and there is the social scene that everybody wants to be of part.

I would expect it to be similarly work-heavy and academically weighted. Past that, I do not know much about the programs, extracurriculars, or character of the school, so I cannot really judge.

I think it must be very similar to Stanford as a place where a large amount of students come to study and develop their passions and knowledge. Also, I think their school spirit is probably just as high as ours, but probably not in football but rather rugby or field hockey.

Probably of similar nature in some regards – lots of work, lots of sun, lots of really cool, interesting people. Probably different in other areas – school calendar? different sports, different culture, teachers. etc.

Probably similar to Stanford except with better accents.

I think that student life at the University of Sydney is very similar to here in terms of relaxed culture and activity-packed days, but there might be more nightlife than here because it is located in the middle of a city.

I believe student life at the University of Sydney is probably similar to student life at Stanford. However, I do imagine that it has a different global perspective and culture that is unique to that institution.

4.  How would you describe Australian society and culture?

Funny words: duner, not comforter. Capsucin, not bell pepper. And aluminium, not aluminum. Sort of the same yet different: because it has a British foundation, it’s sort of the same. Yet because Australia’s geography, flora, and fauna are so exotic, there are some unique aspects to its culture.

I would describe Australian culture as very rich. I think all cultures have something special and different about them and to learn more about the Australian culture would be a wonderful experience for me since I haven’t really been introduced to a variety of cultures. Also, being Native Hawaiian, I could possibly relate to the Australian culture, and it would be nice to make some comparisons between cultures too.

Most of the world is pretty well homogenized. As a description, I would not say Australia is not too staggeringly different from any other developed country, but then I would not say any country is.

One of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world with a laid back attitude (I have never been so I have no idea). I can’t think of an Australian that I’ve met with a disagreeable ethos.

Friendly, sunny, clean, vegemite,

Americans love Aussies!! They love Australian accents, and their distinct vocabulary (for example using the words jumpers for sweatshirts, bubblers for water fountains, boots for car trunks, etc). I know there are lots of cool animals in Australia like kangaroos, wallabies, and poisonous snakes and jellyfish. I think people are more relaxed in Australia. Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere so their seasons are reversed from ours. So I think that means that our Fall would be their Spring? That would be very confusing for someone who’s lived in the Northern Hemisphere all their life.

I heard there was a big divide between the urban and rural culture in Australia. (perhaps even bigger than the divide in the United States). The city seems very cosmopolitan, and there seems to be a large percentage of people who were born in other countries.

The Australian society and culture is, like the student life, very similar to here. When I visited Australia this past summer, I found everyone to be extremely polite, kind, and helpful. The Australian people are definitely much more open to others than we are.

5. What questions do you have for students at the University of Sydney?

Do people really wear Uggs as often as girls here do? The policemen wear shorts, right? Have you ever fed a kangaroo? What is your opinion on the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef?

Does everyone have an awesome accent? How does education work there? What classes do you have to take? Is there a special system for freshmen? Is your school big on sports? What sports do you have?

What is your academic experience like?

What cool traditions do you have that everyone participates in?

What’s it like living in Australia? Are kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies common? Have you seen the movie Finding Nemo? Do you think that it has an accurate portrayal of Sydney Australia?

What do you do in your down time other than partying?

What rumors have you heard about Stanford University?

I would like to ask the students at the University of Sydney to describe their life, culture, and society. I think it would be highly interesting to hear from students from that part of the world.

A few more Stanford photos:

Rhetoric of Gesture Class

Students from the Stanford Rhetoric of Gesture class, impersonating trees, stone, river and wind.

Students from the Rhetoric of Gesture class

More students from the Stanford Rhetoric of Gesture class, now imitating the "T-Rex position" they talked about in class when discussing gestures and movements presenters often make

 

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18 Responses to Stanford Life and Culture: An Intro for University of Sydney students

  1. Allira Smith-Connor says:

    Yes I have seen the movie Finding Nemo, and no i don’t think it is an accurate portrayal of Sydney. I don’t know if that was a serious question but i like to think that there is more to Sydney than a dental practice by the harbour. To me, Sydney is an exciting place, full of such diverse culture and people and i think this is reflected in the culture of the university.

  2. Shae Lamond says:

    People dont really wear uggs that often here. It’d say 80% of ugg boot sales are actually to tourists. The policemen certainly dont wear shorts either, though maybe on a really hot summers day, but I have never seen that. Yes Ive fed a kangaroo, because Im not from the Sydney city orignially and spent alot of time camping etc, thats where you come across them. Its not like theyre jumping down the main highway. In regards to the ‘awesome accent’, it varies somewhat, some people can have a much more thick Australian accent, whereas some dont pronounce things as heavily. And I agree with Allira, the movie finding Nemo is not that accurate.
    We have a diverse and welcoming culture -Australia is very multicultural. This gives us the opportunity to interact with people from around the globe without so much as stepping outside our own cities. I would say we are relaxed and fun and have an appreciation for the diversity of peoples and cultures. This university is extremely diverse, not sure on the stats but we have a very large number of international students. There are many opportunities for any kind of sport with a gym and aquatic center and various fields, theres something for everyone here. I think our laid back attitude is reflected in the fact that for most lectures, it is not a requirement that we attend (although it is expected that we do in order to get the most out of our studies). This does not mean we are lax about our education and take things for granted, it is rather giving students an opportunity to develop their own sense of initiative. When we leave university and enter the workforce we will not be spoon-fed in every situation -our success will depend on our willingness to achieve, and as the university gives us the opportunity to be a bit flexible with our studies, this allows us to develop our own sense of organisation.

  3. James Constantine says:

    Yeah, our accents are pretty awesome. However, the accents here do vary quite a bit, especially considering Australia’s multicultural background (some people i’ve met have half-Australian half-something accents). This multiculturalism is also reflected in the University of Sydney, students from all over the world participate in all different degrees.
    I think Sydney Uni, and I’m sure Stanford too, tries to advertise individual and original thinking; original ideas lead to progress in the world. From the time that I’ve been here, I know for a fact that I’ve used parts of my brain I didn’t know existed.
    Oh and Finding Nemo – brilliant movie (I … may … have shed a tear), rubbish representation.

  4. Brendan says:

    It’s great to read such a diverse and enthusiastic set of responses. I knew nothing about Stanford University before reading this, so it was a pleasure having it described. It’s interesting to learn that all the first year students live on campus. That certainly would foster a sense of community. At this point, I haven’t seen a great deal of that at Sydney Uni. There are students at Sydney Uni who live on campus but they are a minority. It seems that sport is a much more prominent aspect of Stanford University life than it is at Sydney Uni. There are plenty of sports to play or watch but they don’t permeate the collective conscious or organise (there’s another difference right there) social activity to the extent that it sounds like they do at Stanford. Which is interesting because Australia is a very sport obsessed place. My favourite sport is a game called cricket. If you’re not familiar with it, it might strike you as strange and intensely boring. Come to think of it, for some people who are familiar with it… Anyway, the closest comparison is probably baseball, but that doesn’t really do it justice. In its purest form, the game can go for five days!

    As for some of those questions:

    Coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef: Great question. I think it’s an enormous tragedy. I’ve had the pleasure of snorkelling at the southern most tip and it was sublime. The colours! The vibrancy and range is just stunning. If you get a chance to go, do it. It will be a great loss if the coral is dulled to monochrome.

    Ugg boots: Yes, people seem to wear them everywhere (in winter at least). Even at university. It’s funny how they’ve become a fashion item. Knee high uggs, pink uggs etc.

    Australian accents: I’d imagine you would all recognise a collective Australian accent, but there are regional variations.

  5. martina de marcos says:

    I don’t feel we have the same community sense here because most of us don’t live in campus!
    I travel more than 2 hours everyday to come here so as soon as I finish I want to get the bus to get home!
    I’m from overseas and I find that there are plenty of people here with non aussie accents!! though I agree aussie accent is pretty coool! 😀
    For me Nemo does show one of my favourite things in Australia and that’s the harbour!! but yes, there’s a lot more here.

  6. Rebecca War says:

    What cool traditions do you have that everyone participates in?

    We have ‘schoolies’ which is basically a holiday you go on with your friends after finishing year 12 exams and graduation. There are specific ‘schoolies’ destinations, such as the Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise which is reknown to be the party place, or other destinations with close friends. I went to Surfers:)

    What’s it like living in Australia? Are kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies common? Have you seen the movie Finding Nemo? Do you think that it has an accurate portrayal of Sydney Australia?

    Living in Australia is great. While i haven’t lived anywhere else in the world, i am truly greatful for living in a place that is freely relaxed, close to the beach and constantly under the sun. I live close to the city so i dont see many kangaroos, koalas and wallabies close to my house, but i have an apartment 2 hours up the coast where those animals are constantly seen in the bush and along the golf courses.

    What do you do in your down time other than partying?

    Sports! Lots of fun social sports with friends, both through summer and winter and ofcourse relaxing by the beach in summer!

  7. Samantha Wood says:

    I have been privileged to have already studied at both Stanford University (not properly studied, I attended CTY summer camp there when I was young for two years because I lived in San Francisco for 8 years) and Sydney University so it is very interesting for me to hear both sides of the story and see such differing perspectives! In response to Stanford, university in Australia is culturally different to that of the States. In the US, it is much harder to get into a good university than it is here. I do not think that this is based on the quality of the education provided, but instead on the number of the population. Although Australia may be almost the same size as the US, we have a much much smaller population, which means less competition! (For a good example of this compare a picture of the US taken at night from space to a picture of Australia. Take note of the lights, the US will be entirely covered, while the majority of Australia will be dark with the population concentrated around the edges) Another thing to note is that while it is tradition in the states to move out of home when you go to university, often moving cross country, in Australia many of us choose to live at home and not at university which leads to a less campus-life orientated approach to study. This is not to say that we don’t have a thriving campus! Manning Bar always has awesome bands going, and there are always different things going on around the uni.
    University is also a lot more affordable than it is in the states it seems! We pay much much less than you would to go to uni, and we have a system called HECS that we can go on which means we do not have to pay for university while we are studying. It will instead take a small amount out of our wages each year once we get a job until we have finished studying to pay for uni.
    All in all though, I don’t think there are too many incredible differences between our two cultures! (or at least the culture found in California) For me, I would say that the main difference would be that Australia is very grounded, also playing into the idea of us being ‘laid-back’ (which we are!), many of us get jobs at 15 or 16, and I think our culture as a whole is more ‘practically’ or ‘hands-on’ focussed on how to get things done. Australian kids learn to grow up fast.
    I would love to open up a debate about the impact the three year difference in the drinking age has had on each culture as well! On university social life etc, and to hear what you all think on the topic and if you think having a higher drinking age really does stop underage drinking and bring down alcohol relate offences.
    I could keep typing but my fingers might fall off. I look forward to tomorrow!
    P.S. When we refer to college we don’t mean the university as a whole, when we say college we refer to a ‘house’ or a ‘dorm’ that people live in inside of the university itself.

  8. Jess Cohen says:

    Uni life I would say is very different at Stanford compared to USYD (University of Sydney). This is mostly because most of us don’t live on campus. I live at home still with my family close to Bondi Beach (a beach you may of heard of due to it’s popularity in TV shows such as Bondi Rescue [not sure if you get that in the US or not] as well as it’s a pretty famous beach when people think of Sydney!]
    People do wear ugg boots but mostly for leisurely use at home (well at least I do!)
    I’ve fed a kangaroos and even ride them to uni! (I’m joking if you can’t tell. Kangaroos aren’t found all over Sydney and Australia even though they are local, it’s just like people think that wild animals run loose all over South Africa. The closest kangaroos to me are in the zoo or some national parks!)
    The accent I can’t hear, even though I have grown up in an area with very different accents, I guess it depends where in Australia you are from. People in the country have a stronger accent that the city.
    I’ve seen the movie Finding Nemo, obviously it was a glamourised version of Sydney even though they included most of the city sights such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge!

  9. V. Chong says:

    Do people really wear Uggs as often as girls here do?
    A few people in Winter do but usually most people don’t. I think of them as house shoes.

    The policemen wear shorts, right?
    No, I’ve only seen them wear long pants.

    Does everyone have an awesome accent?
    I think it depends at what age you’ve learnt English in Australia. My mum’s been here for a long time but I don’t think she has the accent compared to myself who’s born and raised in Sydney. Also the accent can be stronger depending where you’re from.

    What do you do in your down time other than partying?
    I mainly do things like hang out with friends, meeting up with societies etc. Personally I don’t drink/party much, I save it for birthdays or when a society I’m part of hosts an event.

    Are kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies common?
    I think unless you live in the outback, you like won’t seem them running amock lol. I’ve only seen them in zoos.

  10. Danica Barton says:

    What rumours have I heard about Stanford University?
    Sorry to tell you but I don’t think I’ve ever heard about Stanford other than in movies, I’m guessing it’s a good uni though, the actors always look excited to get accepted.
    I grew up on the South Coast a few hours south of Sydney, where kangaroos are actually very common. A friend of mine has twentyish come and hang out in her front yard every afternoon, she’s from California and says life in Australia is everything she hoped for because of the kangaroos. Same as wallabies, but koalas are very uncommon to see in the wild.
    One difference I’ve noticed from this blog already is that we don’t really call University ‘school’, school pretty much just means primary or high school, with college either referring to a residence at the uni or a private college for design or whatever people go to rather than Uni.
    I can’t say I’ve ever heard any rumours about Stanford, when people in movies get accepted they sound pretty excited though, so I’m guessing it’s pretty good.

  11. Shankar, Sapkota says:

    I have never been to the states before, so all know about the states and their universities is what I have seen on TV: you guys live on campus, party hard, watch college football on Friday nights and have cool American accent.

    You would probably disagree with some of the things from the list above and agree with the others. Many of you probably haven’t come to Sydney yet, so you probably have based your views on what you seen no TV, like me. Some things are absolutely right, for instance we have a laid back attitude in our learning approach. This doesn’t mean we just laze around in the sun all day and go to the beach but we separate our learning time form our relaxing time, it’s all about a balanced lifestyle. The TV however does paint the real story about Kangaroos. Kangaroos are found in regional areas and zoos and no, I certainly don’t have a pet kangaroo called Skippy.

    I know that you all think that all Aussies have a strong Australian accent, but this is part true. Most heavy Aussies accent you hear are mainly form regional areas and the outback. I think this would be similar to the difference in accent of Stanford students to that of a student in Texas.

    Just chasing up on that point about sports, Aussies love sport we flock to sporting grounds or just fire up the barbie and watch rugby and Australian football on TV every weekend. This is not just because we are insane about sports but we value the mateship and the Aussie fighting spirit that come out of participating in sports. The University of Sydney recognises these special qualities that sports bring to the Australian culture, therefore it encourages students to participate. The uni has a proud rugby heritage where young students are turned into young men through hard work and teamwork I can ramble about how rugby is so much better than American Football and how you guys need to follow suit but I won’t. I have realised after reading your blogs how American football has become a cultural heritage in colleges just like rugby in Sydney uni. As you can see from my long rant, I’m crazy about sport, but I can’t help it, sports are to key the Australian.

    One thing I found really interesting about Stanford University is that all undergraduate students live on campus. I think this would add to the university’s student atmosphere more, not to say that Sydney University lacks in a vibrant student atmosphere. Majority of students at Sydney uni live at home still.

    After reading all your wonderful blogs, it has made me realise that we aren’t that different at all, we both have laid back attitudes to learning, we are both affable people to meet and we both love sports. My views on Stanford aren’t just limited to the movies and TV shows and hopefully Sydney university students aren’t just vegemite eating and kangaroo patting Aussies with cool accent.

    To all my mates in Stanford University

  12. John says:

    I’m an Australian, and funnily enough I’ve never worn ugg boots, I’ve never fed a kangaroo, I don’t play rugby or even have much interest in it….my accent isn’t even that ‘Aussie’! It goes farther than that. I think Australian TV and movies suck, I don’t have any particular warm feelings for famous Australians like Hugh Jackman or…that guy who was in Terminator 4, and I can’t really think of any Australian musicians I’m fond of either. I’m probably the least ‘Australian’ Australian that there is, at least in my opinion. But at the same time, I love vegemite and meat pies, I love Sydney, and I love that our seasons are reversed and that we have Christmas in Summer. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, which I guess speaks to the diversity of Australian culture and Australians in general. As for Sydney Uni’s culture, there’s still that ‘community’ feel, even though the majority of students don’t live on campus. Personally, it takes me an hour and a half to get to uni, from the time I leave my house to the moment I get off my second train. But once I get to uni, you do get this feeling of community. There is always something going on at Sydney Uni which brings people together, whether its a festival or a silent disco in the Quad. There are clubs and societies which ensure that students with similar hobbies and interests find each other and develop friendships. Just because we don’t live with each other, doesn’t mean we’re disconnected.

    Also, Finding Nemo is awesome.

  13. Sophie Yeh says:

    I find that uggies are popular with a small but loyal following either local or people on exchange. I believe, personally that ugg boots belong inside and not as outdoor shoes but, each to their own. Yes, some policemen wear shorts, You’d have to look out for that when the weather is warmer! I have fed a kangaroo while I visited a wildlife park, it’s closed now, but it was where Skippy the Kangaroo was filmed. I will leave the Great Barrier Reef to the experts, though I have seen photos of bleached coral and find it heartbreaking.
    Accents are awesome everywhere! Accents do vary depending on which part of Australia you’re from or even if it is because it is a second language.
    My academic experience has varied, I’ve switched from a degree that was under the Science faculty, which then changed and fell under Engineering to a different degree back under Science. I’ve taken subjects across Science, Arts, Engineering and Business.
    I haven’t found many cool traditions, except maybe dodging the campaigners come student council and student union election times! There is a tradition in one of the colleges (yes, we have a few) that the freshies (freshmen) have to carry around a brick for their first week while wearing the black robes. They must first introduce the brick to anyone before introducing themselves and if not, they must carry a second brick with them.
    I love living in Australia, for when the weather is fine, I just like standing in a sunny spot with a bit of a breeze and just breath it all in. Kangaroos, koalas and wallabies are not all that common. You’d have to be in the bush (if you’re lucky enough to spot one) or at a zoo to see them.
    I love PIXAR movies, so yes, I’ve seen Finding Nemo!!! Not a very accurate portrayal of Sydney though, I’m still trying to figure out that East Australian Current and if they are fish from the reef (assuming Great Barrier) then why the American accents? Have you heard of the new PIXAR movie coming out in 2012? Brave. I’m so excited.
    In my downtime I watch tv shows from all over, and play some computer games.
    Rumours about Stanford….To be honest I haven’t heard much, but what I have, it’s a university with a good reputation.
    Can’t wait to meet some of you!

  14. Laura says:

    A lot of girls in Australia own uggs but I think most people only wear them around the house. Most students live at home and commute to uni rather than live on campus. I have fed a little joey (baby kangaroo) and I would love to go up close to an adult kangaroo but they are a bit scary because they fight. SAVE THE BARRIER REEF! I don’t know much about stanford but i’ve heard all the students there are incredibly intelligent.

  15. Bec L says:

    An awesome accent to most is a foreign one, so I personally don’t find Australian accents very interesting, its all the international students that have cool accents.
    I do own ugg boots, but would not be seen out of my house in them, they’re made for comfort not style.
    Finding Nemo is a great film, amazing animation and really good characters. The accent of the dentist is more reminiscent of Crocodile Dundee than any dentist I’ve ever met, especially from the inner city.
    Throughout the year students use almost any excuse to celebrate with generous amounts of alcohol, any festival, holiday or celebration, whether it is cultural, religious, or just made up.

  16. Jessica Yeoh says:

    It’s really interesting to have an insight to what student life is like at another university overseas. Unlike Stanford university, Sydney uni (or USyd for short) doesn’t seem to have a strong focus on sporting activities; although I do have a friend who is involved in the cheerleading team at USyd.

    In response to a few questions, I’ve only seen policemen (and policewomen) wear pants, so I have yet to see them in shorts. Everyone has their own accent here, so it’s hard to give a direct answer to this question because Australia is multicultural: it’s definitely reflected in and around uni, where people from different cultural groups can be heard speaking their own language, and not just English. USyd offers a range of subjects, depending on what interests you, and what you want to major in. The only mandatory subject/s for me this year is Academic Writing; last semester I was enrolled in a unit called Analytical Thinking.
    I suppose kangaroos, wallabies and koalas are “common” here, but we don’t see these animals here in Sydney on a daily basis. Living in Australia seems to be quite carefree compared to Asian countries from what I’ve heard from my parents (they didn’t study here in Australia), also, we get to see a clear, cloudless blue sky here often, especially during summer, so it is taken for granted sometimes. If I have free time, I usually spend it browsing the Internet (this does include Facebook by the way), reading, listening to music, or just not doing anything =)

    P.S. I think everyone, if not most people in Australia, have seen Finding Nemo at some point in life. Although the graphics in the film are animated, the harbour is pretty scenic, surrounded by restaurants and attractions, as well as a well-known landmark – the Sydney Opera House. I’ve heard that a new playground area has recently just been constructed somewhere around Darling Harbour too, which I have yet to discover for myself.

  17. Alice says:

    Stereotypes of Australians are so funny, i have travelled alot around the world and everywhere you go people have the same impression of Australians and what our life is like. I think that tourists are often disappointed when they come to Sydney because they expect there to be kangaroos bounding down the highway and everyone wearing akubra hats and saying g’day…. you need to go to the country for that!!!! In saying that i think that Sydney is still a very rich and culturally diverse place that reflects Australian culture, attitudes and beliefs in varying ways.

  18. Chenyang Yan says:

    A certain amount of interaction between students from two distinct cultural backgrounds can always yield certain multifarious aspects of possibilities that people engage in rhetoric-enriching conversations like what we do right now. Personally as a international student who studies in Au for the sake of academic fulfillment, it is really enlightening and inspiring to see people from different cultural backgrounds to have a say on different topics of their own specific academic career-related difficulty or growth, as in turn i can gain my own share of understanding of how to avoid or acquire the ‘Aussie’ or ‘Yankie’ way of experiencing the uni life. For example, i would never have a opportunity to smoothly improve my English language skill if i choose not to proactively communicate with the native speaker as long as the talking point emerges like what this forum provides for me to have a say on all kinds of momentous issues of academic writing. On a similar vein, familiarising myself in such link-up activities would certainly help much to my immersion into the local culture which the opportunity to extend the knowledge of how to comprehend the academic way of approaching the English essay-writing abounds in both USA and Australia educational institutions.

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