Seda Otuzbir – My semester abroad in Sydney
My name is Seda Otuzbir and I am currently studying Industrial Engineering and Management Science at BFH. From February to April 2020, I spent my 4th study semester abroad at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The reason why I chose to spend a semester abroad was to discover a different culture.
During my semester abroad at UTS, my field of study was Business due to the subjects I chose at BFH. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, my study abroad experience in Sydney was short-lived. Still, my overall impression was excellent. Sydney is a beautiful, magnificent city. There is a lot to do and the quality offered by the UTS is on par with Switzerland. I’m glad that I can share some exciting insights with you in this article.
Preparation for the semester abroad
The preparation was rather time-consuming. The whole process took me a year. But as a student of Industrial Engineering and Management Science, I got help from Prof. Dr Stefan Grösser and Dr Maria Franco throughout the process and during my stay in Sydney.
First of all, I had to decide in which country I wanted to spend a semester abroad. My priority was to go to an English-speaking country. I inquired about the costs and compared the courses, which had to meet the same level as the courses at BFH.
After some research, I chose UTS. As UTS is not a partner university of BFH, I had to choose the “free mover” option, which means I had to fulfil all enrolment requirements and pay the semester fees to the host university myself. With the help of StudySmart, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of study abroad programs, I fulfilled all the enrolment requirements and shortly after bought my flight tickets.
Arrival in Sydney
The arrival went pretty well but I was very tired. It took approximately 23 hours to fly from Zurich to Sydney, with a stopover in Dubai. I went to UTS with a shuttle bus, which is operated by the university but only available at certain hours. I arrived at UTS around 11am and immediately met my flatmates who came earlier or later that day. The UTS has a very well-structured Orientation Program which I enjoyed very much. The program started as soon as I arrived. It lasted two weeks and helped me find out what the university has to offer. It was also a great opportunity to network and make friends with other students from all over the world. This time was also an excellent period to explore the city.
Life on campus
I decided to live on campus, precisely at one of the UTS housings called “Yura Mudang”, which means ”where students live” in Gadigal language. I lived in a shared flat with five other students from all parts of the world (USA, India, Australia, Canada and South Korea).
At the beginning, we were shy around one other, but we quickly became friends. Our ages ranged from 17 to 28. But either way, we got along very well, so well that we are still in contact and have remained friends.
We even agreed on a weekly duty list: each of us had a chore, like cleaning the kitchen or the shared spaces, taking care of the garbage and providing shared items. This way, we knew who was doing what.
Every day, we did a lot of activities together. For instance, during weeknights, we played table tennis, cards, etc. or even cooked dinner together or had dinner out. On the weekends, we went out or went to places like the famous Opera House.
My flatmates and I lived in a pleasant atmosphere. We did not clash once for any particular reason.
The campus is huge, about twenty times larger than BFH. The buildings are all unique and have a suitable theme for each area of study. Each subject I studied was taught in a different building. As a result, I had to walk for approximately fifteen minutes to go to another building, depending on my courses.
The University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
The sessions I attended offered the same level of quality as in Switzerland. A lot of work had to be done during the semester, and not just at the end of it. In the subjects I chose, the students’ knowledge was tested through group work, individual work, quizzes and the final examination. Group work with other international students was a challenge due to the pandemic and to cultural differences.
UTS is ranked as Australia’s number one young university and one of the country’s leading universities of technology. It has approximately 46.000 student enrolments per year, of which 20 percent are international students. The university is widely known for its innovative learning and teaching approach, which integrates the best of online and face-to-face experiences. Students benefit from an immersive career-focused education, coupled with strong links to industry.
Life & leisure
My dormitory was at an ideal location, only five minutes away from the central train station. I could therefore enjoy the “big city life” to the fullest. As I did not have a job there, I had time to explore the city and the surrounding areas with my flatmates. I cannot say which place was my favourite as every single spot I went to was beautiful. But I think the coastal walk I did from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach was breathtakingly lovely. I also did some hiking in the Blue Mountains or visited places like Darling Harbour, Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Kiama, with its impressive blowhole.
People in Sydney are very multicultural and nice. I settled in quickly and adapted very well to the “big city life”. I cannot tell if I could live there for a longer period, as I was in Sydney for a short time and had limited activities due to the pandemic. But I would definitely go back there.
Engineering and Information Technology
Current semester of study
Year of birth
Study abroad location
February to July 2020 (Spring semester)
Varied natural landscapes and beaches, multiculturalism, open-minded people, many events/celebrations, iconic surfing spots.