University of Sydney Short-Term Programme

14 March 2019

Karl was one of four UCL students who joined the University of Sydney Short-Term Programme on a tuition fee free basis. Read about his experiences down under!

sydney short term
Karl Koestler, LLB English and German Law

Really - a „Summer School“ in Australian winter? That was probably the most common question I was facing before I left to Sydney, just as the weather was finally getting agreable in London. A short time after exams I then found myself in a plane on the way to Hongkong and finally to Sydney. The following six weeks flew by incredibly fast which made waiting for my UCL grades a lot more pleasant.

Once arrived and welcomed by the amazingly supportive study abroad advisors, we were lucky enough that Vivid, an annual light and music festival, was waiting for us. This presented a great way to explore the city at night, to cope with the jetlag and to make new friends. Our student accommodation was situated right at the heart of China town and only about a 20-minute walk to both Darling Harbour and the university. 


Already in our introductory seminar it became apparent how aware Australians are about their aboriginal history. We had the opportunity to experience a traditional aboriginal dance performance. Scholars continuously pay respect to the aboriginals who lived on the land on which the University is built – which I would also like to do right now. Without the Cadigal people of the Eora nation my experience here would not have been possible. 

In an effort to make the most out of my time on an academic level, I decided to take two classes. While my Bioethics class was spread over the full six weeks, Cross-cultural Management was a three-week intensive seminar. I deliberately chose subjects not directly related to my law-degree at UCL and thereby gained valuable inspiration for my future career, exploring other areas that are inherently permeated by the law. 

While it was revealing to face new academic challenges and gain input from a different perspective, I was surprised to see how valued scholars from the UK are also here in Australia. Apart from a stunning campus, the University of Sydney offers a vibrant learning environment and a very international cohort of students. As the classes aim to convene the same content as courses during the regular term and do not presume any prior knowledge they are definitely intensive - especially towards the end when my 6-week and 3-week class overlapped. However, taking only one class at the beginning gave me enough time to arrive in Sydney and explore the surroundings. 

With bioethics, I was able to explore the more technical details of controversial topics such as genetic engineering and was able to draw on my essay-writing skills acquired at UCL when working on philosophical papers. It was a deliberating experience to be able to argue independent from the legal status quo. Especially the short-term programme with small and very diverse classes lends itself to learn in a more interactive way. This was especially the case with my Cross-cultural Management class. The most revealing insights about cultural differences and strategies came from working together on a final group project in a team with an Italian and a US-American. Our professor herself was a Chilean who grew up in Japan, worked in the legal industry in China and was now doing her PhD in Sydney before moving to Ireland with her husband. In addition, a guided tour of the historic university building was part of our class and confirmed my suspicion that it is heavily inspired by Oxford and Cambridge.


On the other hand, this short-term study abroad experience allowed me to finally travel my sixth continent. I am glad to have made great friends with whom I went on several adventures and with whom I will stay in touch after the program. Thankfully, the short time program provides the right balance between academic challenge and having enough free time to explore the city of Sydney and the natural beauty of Australia. One of the highlights of my time here was definitely climbing up Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not only was the view on Sydney Harbour and the Opera House outstanding, but the experience of climbing at over 300 feet with wind speeds of around 50 mph, was absolutely thrilling. 

Another trip, organized by the University of Sydney Study Abroad Office, was a three-day surf camp at Seven-Mile Beach. Unfortunately, the stormy weather did not allow us to go surfing on the first day, but we compensated for this on the second day and this turned out to be a great way to experience the Australian culture and to get to know local surfers. Apart from this weekend, the weather was surprisingly good and made exploring the national park in the Blue Mountains and the nearby beaches very enjoyable. Further, I was able to experience the extensive wildlife – many of which is native to Australia. Among others, I was able to meet up with koalas and kangaroos and to see whales on a whale-watching cruise. 

After all, it was more than worth trading six weeks of European summer for Australian winter. I was able to successfully combine travelling a place I always wanted to go with broadening my mind and building up valuable connections. I can only urge other students to take part in a Short-time Study Abroad Program, as such are truly life-changing experiences!