featured students

Jessica Scarfuto

I attended the Australia University Games in the Gold Coast with the University of New South Wales women’s soccer team.

Personal Discovery

Cultural Discovery

Social Discovery


Semester Abroad: July 2009

Host University: University of New South Wales

Home University: Manhattan College

Academic Major: International Studies

Activity: Sports


Please explain what exciting activity you did while abroad.

I attended the Australia University Games in the Gold Coast with the University of New South Wales women’s soccer team. Australia University Games, also known as AUGs or Unigames, is a massive week-long national sporting event that takes place every year involving over 7,000 athletes from 44 universities throughout Australia and New Zealand. The tournament kicked off with an opening ceremony at Sea World on Sunday night and the competition began on Monday and lasted until Friday. Depending on the number of competing teams, each sport usually had about two games a day. Since women’s soccer was split into Division 1 and Division 2, my team only ended up having 2 games in a day on one occasion. We played games against the University of Sydney, University of Wollongong, Macquarie University, Australian College of Physical Education, and a few others and ended up beating out Macquarie for bronze.

Equally as big as the sporting aspect of Unigames is the social aspect: as a part of the tournament, the Unigames social calendar involved free entry to 8 specified Unigames clubs and theme nights every night. The themes this year were: team colours (Sunday), Pirate Party (Monday), The Wiggles (Tuesday), Hat ‘n Tie (Wednesday), the letters A U G (dress to a letter) for Thursday, and Dress to Impress (Friday). Some of the most fun I had with my team all week was when we were running around trying to rustle up pirate costumes or dress up like animals then go out with all the other Unigames athletes. And then we got to go home with a medal at the end of the week as well!

How did you find out about this opportunity?

I live in a dorm at the University of New South Wales so I heard about it from some of my friends here who are Australian. If there is one thing Australians love to do it’s to play sports so Unigames is somewhat of a legend among them.

What did you learn about yourself personally through this experience abroad?

When you are at Unigames, you really don’t hang out with anybody but your team all day, all night, every day for a week. I’m used to living with Australians because I live in the dorms, but even in my dorm there are about 15 Americans so we usually hang out in mixed groups. But at Unigames, I was the only American on both our guys and girls team which was a combined group of over 30. Although I felt a little out of place at first, I learned that in the end I didn’t need an American support group to fit in and have a great time. I feel like I learned more about Australian life and culture by being isolated among them for a week than I have by being mixed in among them for over 2 months. It ended up being fantastic.

How will you use this experience in your future professional endeavors?

I believe this experience has given me more confidence in my own independence. I was able to find my place among my team despite cultural differences and language barriers and I feel that I am now more comfortable in such situations because of it.

How did this experience help you adjust to life abroad?

It helped me to become even more immersed in the culture. Although I knew a good amount about Australian culture from living in the dorm, the truth is that the dorm isn’t “real” life either. I got it in my head that all Australians were like the ones I know from my dorm but I can see now that it’s a completely different atmosphere to live on campus. Going to Unigames and being the only American among over 30 Australians gave me a true picture of what the people here are like outside of classes and the dorms. When I decided to go to Unigames, I knew it would be tons of fun but I had no idea how much I would learn from it.

What cultural differences and similarities did you see as a result of this experience?

I’ve already been living in Australia for about 3 months now so I was surprised when I encountered more language barriers than I expected. But within a few days it was second nature to use all the same words they did.


What advice can you give to future students who are interested in being an active participant in their study abroad experience?

Definitely live on campus. It sounds kind of lame but on-campus living is completely different here than anything you will ever experience in America. The only way you can really get to know Australians and experience the culture is if you live with them and living on campus is really the only way you can do that. I know a lot of GlobaLinks people who are living in off-campus study abroad housing and they like it but they always talk about how they never actually meet Australians. I would not have had more than half of the experiences I’ve had (including Unigames) if it hadn’t been for the Aussies I’ve met. They are truly friendly and wonderful people and they are the reason I have been having so much fun here. So if you want to make tons of Aussie friends…live on campus! 


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