Student Stories

Lina Cheng

Lina Cheng


Exchange Student at UNSW

Sydney, Australia, Fall 2012

BSILR 2014


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

Even though it was winter in July, the coldest temperatures were only 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so I didn't need anything more than a fleece and a rain jacket. Make sure to bring several bathing suits!


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

The best and cheapest transportation for getting to/from the city was definitely the metrobus. Cabs are also available but are fairly expensive so they should be used sparingly.


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

The locals of course! Also the university study abroad office, travel agencies, and other international kids.


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

ATMs are scattered around Coogee Bay Road and on many city streets so getting money out wasn't too difficult. Finding places to exchange money was a little harder; for those living on Coogee Beach there's a currency exchange station behind Beach Burrito on Coogee Bay Road.


What dorm would you recommend to future students? Why?

Study abroad housing in Coogee for sure. Most of these residences are located pretty much on the beach and are about a 20 minute walk from campus. I would highly highly recommend living in Coogee as opposed to on UNSW campus because aside from class you really won't be on campus too much.

Campus Life

What were orientation & field trip events like?

The university study abroad office offers many school-sponsored day trips to nearby beaches and nature reserves that I would recommend checking out!
What were your favorite places to hang out?

Coogee and Bondi beach, our beachside house, bars and pubs in the city.
What were your favorite extracurricular activities?

Exploring around the city, running on the beach (the three times I actually did it), soaking up the Aussie sun.


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

I went on an incredible 10-day mid-semester break trip that took me up along the eastern coast of Australia. The trip is called One Fish Two Fish and I booked it through World Backpackers Travel Agency. If you do one thing in Australia this should definitely be it. You get to visit all the major Aussie tourist-y locations with other study abroad kids (there were 80 on my trip); I snorkeled/scuba dove the Great Barrier Reef, bungee jumped, saw kangaroos and koalas and other Aussie critters, went whitewater rafting, and explored some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I can say without hesitation that it was among the best 10 days of my life.

Communication & Computers

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

Wi-fi is available on campus, but if you're living in study abroad housing in Coogee you need to find your own means of getting online.
What was the nature of your communications with the exchange program coordinator? In what way was it supportive?

I honestly did not communicate with my program coordinator too much. I lived with many other study abroad/exchange students and that was more than enough to keep me updated.
What was the check-in process like at the international students office?

Not bad at all! The UNSW staff were more than friendly and accommodating.
Share any tips on communication that you think is helpful to future exchange students.

I would definitely recommend getting a pay as you go phone once you arrive in Sydney. International phone plans can be pretty expensive.


What was your favorite course? What did you like about it?

MGMT 2704: The Social Organization of Work. It hit on many modern organizational behavior topics that are of interest to me.

What helped you stay focused in an academic environment where you are mostly self-driven?

Actually going to the library. Although I admit I didn't go that often, it was the only place where I could actually get work done.
How did you organize your course materials for review by the ILR faculty committee?

Save all papers/handouts and computer documents so you don't need to scramble to get everything together at the end! It makes your life a lot easier when you return home.
What did you like the least about your exchange program experience? Suggest ways for improvement.

This is mostly just a part of Aussie culture, but uni life is nowhere near as exciting and all-encompassing as it is in the States. Looking back on my semester abroad, I don't really have too many memories of actually participating in campus events because uni students in Australia see college as more of a part-time job than anything else. However, my lack of participation in campus activities is by no means an indication of how truly incredible my semester abroad had been.

Health & Safety

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

I got some bug bites that became infected and had to visit UNSW health services to get antibiotics. My experience with the health services office was so convenient and helpful, and best of all it was free because it was covered by my international student health insurance.


Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective ILR exchange students and the ILR community, that we haven’t asked?

Nothing I say could truly encapsulate how amazing my exchange experience had been other than to prepare yourself for the best semester of your lives. I feel so lucky to have had something in Sydney that made saying goodbye so hard.
How did you choose this particular program for a student exchange program?

Personally I have always wanted to visit Australia and when I learned of this opportunity to spend a semester at a partner school in Sydney, I immediately knew this is what I wanted to do.
What was your overall academic experience like?

The main challenge in my academic experience was mostly just motivating myself to get my work done and to study. Even though UNSW is a fantastic school and is ranked in the top 50 universities in the world, studying there really shouldn't be too difficult for a student coming from Cornell. Luckily this is ideal for those who want to explore and partake in the many other facets of abroad life.

What did you enjoy the most of your exchange program experience?

Meeting people who over the course of the semester truly became my best friends and learning how to adjust and live on my own in a foreign country on the other side of the world.

- Lina Cheng, BSILR 2014