A Semester Abroad in Sydney
I spent this past semester studying abroad in NYU Sydney, taking part in Tisch's Producing and Screenwriting program. Throughout the semester, I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people, travel around Australia and to New Zealand, and learn about the Australian film industry and (sorry, you knew it was coming) myself.
Below is a collection of photos, videos, and stories that sum up my experience in Australia and New Zealand.
Royal National Park
INTERNSHIP - SCREEN NSW
I interned at Screen NSW, the government screen agency for New South Wales. I worked with the Production Attraction and Incentives Team, which attracts runaway productions from the U.S. and China to come film in NSW. I learned a lot about location scouting, government incentives, film contracts, budgeting, and financing.
One of my supervisors (another American, from Texas) was nice enough to invite me to her home for a Thanksgiving dinner. It was great to eat turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie at a time when I was feeling especially homesick. The Screen NSW team made me feel at home, and even provided me opportunities to tour Fox Studios where they were starting to build sets for the upcoming Alien: Covenant, and visit the set of Mel Gibson's upcoming drama, Hacksaw Ridge .
One of the highlights was the coffee. Australia has great coffee culture, so you're always surrounded by great cafes for a flat white. However, the sizes are smaller, and their iced coffee almost always have ice cream in them.
I was surprised that vegemite grew on me. That is, by the end of my trip, I opted (once or twice) to take my morning toast with a thick spread of butter and a very thin spread of vegemite. I found it to be not as absolutely disgusting as it smells, looks, and tastes initially.
One of the hardest parts was having patience crossing the street. Sydney is built for cars, rather than New York which is a pedestrian city. Having to wait at every "don't walk" sign through more than one traffic light cycle was one of the most infuriating experiences to all of use used to crossing whenever in New York. It sincerely tested our patience. A friend even got a $100+ fine for jaywalking on her way to school.
Of course there were the expected differences in culture. NYU put us up in Haymarket, Sydney's Chinatown, so we were surrounded by a pretty diverse crowd, but in general, Australia is a very white country. And their relations with the indigenous peoples is pretty far behind America's still problematic relationship with our native peoples.
It was also extremely hard to find good Mexican food. Mostly because there are very few Mexican immigrants living in Sydney. The first thing I did when I got home was have a burrito.
Over the course of the semester I did so many things I had never done before: I skydived, bungee jumped, scuba dived, cliff jumped, kayaked through fiords, road tripped, drove on the left side of the road, went clubbing, avoided Starbucks, visited a major film set and studio! Plus I got some school work done!