Student Stories

Cogee Beach

Cameron Nickels


Exchange Student at UNSW

Sydney, Australia, Spring 2012


What were the most useful things you packed, and what do you recommend to leave behind?

Pack a rain jacket! Sunglasses and bathing suits are a must. I brought my own sheets and towels which was helpful. Bring some beach towels if you can. I also brought some toiletries (i.e. shampoo and soap) which saved money and effort when I arrived. Bring a small duffel bag or backpack for day trips and other excursions.


How did you get from the airport to the university and around town? How much does it cost?

UNSW provides transportation from the airport when you first arrive. Otherwise, the bus system was my main mode of transportation. We took the bus almost everywhere. It is easy to familiarize yourself with the routes. We also used cabs occasionally.


What were the most reliable sources of information for cultural events, news, travel, weather?

Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper is a good read


How did you exchange money, and where did you find an ATM?

If you have Bank of America in the U.S. (which I do), they have many sister banks throughout Australia so the ATMS are often free. This is easily found on the BoA website. You can exchange money at the airport or pretty much any convenience store. This is not hard to do.


What dorm would you recommend to future students? Why?

I lived in the apartments in Coogee Beach. The location was phenomenal…Right on the beach and a 10 minute bus to campus (or 30 min walk). 20 minute bus ride into the city.


Name one interesting place you visited and tell us what you liked about it.

I spent mid-semester break in New Zealand. Most students studying in Sydney spent spring break in N.Z. or traveled there at some point during the semester. It is easy to get to (3 hr flight from Sydney) and has unbelievable scenery. A must do. Additionally, I spent a weekend in Melbourne (1 hr flight from Sydney) and 2 weeks in Japan. Japan is a long flight (8 hrs) but if you can make it to Asia I would highly recommend it. Many of my friends took trips to Bali and Thailand. All very feasible.

Communication & Computers

Was wi-fi available in the dorms and on campus?

Wi-fi was available on campus. There was NO wifi in the Coogee Bay apartments. We went to a local tech store and bought a modem and router. If you split among roommates the cost is not outrageous. But for the first few days internet was hard to come by.


How did you organize your course materials for review by the ILR faculty committee?

Keep a note book and try to remain diligent about keeping as many notes as possible (even if it seems commonsense). Save all digital work on your computer. I had a folder for each class and kept important documents. Save tests, assignments and most importantly your syllabi.


Did you work while on exchange? if so where, what did you do, and what was it like to work in another culture?

I did not work while on exchange although many of my friends did pick-up part time jobs. If you can find the right fit, I would recommend this. It gives you something to do and helps subsidize the high cost of living.

Health & Safety

What health and safety issues did you encounter, if any? How did you resolve it?

UNSW has a respectable health services program. I went there a few times and easily saw a doctor. I would recommend doing anything (not urgent) through the university. Health insurance will cover this.


What was your overall academic experience like?

The academic experience was good, not great. I think you will find out how lucky we are to study at Cornell where the teaching is phenomenal. However, in no way will this detract from the experience. Remember, much of your growth and learning will come outside the class room. Being independent, traveling, etc.

- Cameron Nickels, BSILR 2013