CEMS exchange in Sydney
My heart could have not been beating faster when I boarded my plane at Ferihegy to begin my 35-hour journey across time zones and continents to Australia. Even though I have planned and prepared for my exchange semester in Sydney for almost a year, it was not just excitement driving up my pulse: to be honest, I was scared. Luckily, the other side of the globe proved to be a pretty awesome place in the end.
Finding accommodation in Sydney is stressful, but not impossible. Do not hope to find a cheap place to stay, though: weekly rent varies somewhere between 250-350 AUD depending on location and your willingness to share a room. Generally, exchange students arrive to Sydney a week before the Block Seminar, and spend this extra time with intense room-hunting while staying at a hostel. I was not that brave, and booked an apartment with four other CEMSies in CBD (Sydney’s business district) well before our arrival. Pros: a weekly rent of 250 AUD/person, gym-pool-hot tub combo in the building, 10-minute walk from the CBD campus; cons (for some): sharing a 2-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment with 5 people.
A word of advice: renting a place at Bondi Beach (or one of the several other beaches) might seem like an awesome idea – heck, it can even be cheaper than living in the city! –, but commuting for an hour to school (or any social events) can quickly make the experience sour.
Hostel tip: http://www.jackaroohostel.com/
- free WiFi (not commonplace in Australian hostels)
- free breakfast
- easily accessible (next to Kings Cross train station)
- fully furnished (kitchen utensils included) apartments
- good locations, hot tubs!, grumpy receptionists
- can be fairly cheap, if you are up to sharing your room (and can find other CEMSies feeling the same way)
Block Seminar and CEMS Courses
This year, the Block Seminar’s topic was Doing Business in the Asia-Pacific Region, and it involved presentations from a wide range of professionals (from banking to advertising) who worked extensively in the region. The last day of the seminar was dedicated to the presentations of the group project: we had to introduce a product or service to either China or India.
While the Block Seminar was intense with its 8-hour days, the activities organised each evening made up for the long hours spent at school. We had dinner at the Opera House, went on a boat cruise, and escaped the city for a surf camp the weekend following the seminar. (Do not let any happy-go-lucky instructor fool you, surfing is hard.)
As for the courses, each CEMS student can take four. These were the ones I have chosen:
- CEMS6003 Advanced Strategy (mandatory)
- MMGT6008 Global Marketing Management – Not so global marketing course with groups working on the marketing strategy of a local business.
- MMGT6012 Business Tools for Management – SPSS, linear programming, simulation modelling, etc. Definitely feels slow at times if you are familiar with those, but the professor is really great.
- IBUS6018 Business Negotiations: Interesting, highly competitive course delivered by an engaging, demanding, but extremely fair professor.
With the exception of Electives (I my case, Business Negotiations), the courses are organised intensively with 5 occasions of 8-hour classes, giving you the possibility to choose courses that start or end mid-term.
The cherry on top of the academic experience here: Lance Graham, USYD’s CEMS Program Manager is a true Aussie saint, eagerly helping you out with any and all problems you face during your stay at the university.
Both the Events and the Corporate Team work hard on making sure that you can make the most out of your semester. Just a few examples: zoo themed pub crawl with CEMSies dressed in onesies, running dinner, day at the Royal Randwick horse race, Halloween Party, end of the semester boat party, rotational breakfast with corporate partners, visits at agencies and start-ups, many-many trips to national parks and beaches. With more than 80 CEMS students at the university, birthdays and house parties are also frequent.
The CEMS Club welcomes exchange students in its various teams, joining one is something I highly recommend.
Life in Australia is expensive, that is something you should be aware of before choosing Sydney as your exchange destination. A few tips to spare a few bucks:
Public transport – https://www.opal.com.au/
As an exchange student, you are entitled to a concession Opal card. Additionally, there is a 2.50 AUD Travel Cap on Sundays, so that is the day to explore the Blue Mountains or other places around Sydney.
Mobile – http://www.optus.com.au/
Optus offers a pretty sweet prepaid plan for 30 AUD a month, with a network covering most of the areas you are likely to visit. The only place I did not have reception was a rain forest at the upper East Coast. Bummer.
Woolworths and Coles are the biggest supermarket chains in Australia (the latter being slightly cheaper), but if you are lucky, there might even be an Aldi somewhere close to your place.
Live on a diet of oatmeal and pasta with plain tomato sauce if you must, but make sure you save some money to explore Australia.
Renting from Wicked Campers
(http://www.wickedcampers.com.au/) and going on an East Coast trip is certainly a must. There are numerous campsites along the way to spend the night at, providing a fairly cheap option for accommodation.