Fairy Bread & Australia - The Most Important Things To Do Before Studying Abroad - Part 1

Samantha Katsikas Bond University, Australia


August 27, 2019
Currently Studying at: Bond University, Australia
Homeschool: Arcadia University

I am just going to say it - I am addicted to sprinkles. Not the kind of sprinkles you get on ice cream from Dairy Queen, but the nonpareils sprinkles that are the crunchy, sweet little circles that are melted into the chocolate circles. You may be thinking “why are you telling me this?”, or even better, “why of all things am I addicted to sprinkles?” Well two words, Fairy Bread. No, it isn't bread made out of fairies or some hoax you read on the internet, its a real thing, and it's made in Australia. Before I was even in college and had the dream of studying abroad in Australia, I had read somewhere about “Fairy Bread”. It is white bread smothered with margarine or butter and topped with nonpareils sprinkles, or as they call them outside of the United States “hundreds and thousands”. Made in a triangle shape, it is typically served at kids parties and easy to make. The origin of the name most likely came from a poem titled “Fairy Bread” published in 1885 by poet Robert Louis Stevenson. The first written record came from a magazine published in Australia, The Mercury, which described children consuming the sweet treat. Now you know what I will hope to have at most of my meals. 

I am assuming the reason you clicked on this link is to find out more about how I prepared for my studying abroad trip not to learn about Fairy Bread. So here is the first installment: 

Do the RIGHT Research

Although it’s fun to research and eat Fairy Bread it shouldn't be on the top of your list of research “to-dos”. Start with the place you will spend the most time - your school and surrounding area. For me, this is Bond and the Gold Coast. The main things I have been looking at are: 

  • Classes! Talk to your major & study abroad advisors and other students who have studied at the school to find the ones that will work for your major, fulfill other requirements, and won’t be so hard that you spend all your free time studying instead of exploring. And make sure you have multiple options - I had to change a few of my first choices to fit around the classes I need for my major. 
  • Places to eat, drink and hangout - you will get a lot of recommendations once you get there, but it’s always fun to get an idea of the local life ahead of time.
  • Best beaches 
  • Transportation - how to get around campus, get to the school where another friend is studying; how to get to those best beaches and places to hang out.
  • Tourist spots and excursions to take during free time. I’ve been looking at how far different places are that I might want to visit, asked friends what they enjoyed the most when they were at the school, making a list of Must-Sees, etc.

Although many people who study abroad don't want to be labeled a “tourist” and more or less just want to be a “student”, it’s important to have those “tourist moments”. You want to maximize the time you will have between classes and studying and sometimes being a tourist is the best way to see as much as possible in the short time you have in a place far from home. 

Need help getting started? Not good at researching stuff? Don’t you worry. As an English major, my life is surrounded by research, writing, reading and more research! So, I know what it means to dig deeply into a subject to find exactly what it is I am looking for and that sometimes the amount of information we get on the internet can be overwhelming. So, here are a few ideas to help you narrow your search:  

  • Start with the website of the school you are attending - just like our schools in the USA, they will have links for visitors to see what is near the school to see and do.
  • Use keywords about the location of your school such as, “Gold Coast Top 10 Restaurants” or “Top-Rated Things To Do in the Gold Coast”.
  • Ask friends who have attended the same school or a school in the same area.
  • Once you find something you are really interested in, like a Zoo or monument, visit the website for that specific place.

Now, all you have to do next is to click on a few links, gather ideas, write them down and begin to plan your trip! 

Read Read Read!

I know that the word “read” may not be the most enticing to many people, but in this case, you’re going to love it. I did some research (just like I mentioned above!) and came across two top-rated books for those who are traveling to Australia. 

  • “Australia”, published by Lonely Planet, is a one thousand plus page book that acts as a personal tour guide. You find the place you want to travel, read the sections and within those sections find the topics that you want to know more about (i.e. Gold Coast - Restaurants - $15 to $50 per person - Voila!). The Lonely Planet and many other distributors, such as the Discovery Channel, publish books just like these in nearly every country, so this should be your first stop.
  • The next stop on your reading journey should be a biography of a nation type book. The book I chose for Australia is literally called “A Biography of A Nation: Australia”. I value different cultures and experiences and the one thing I wish I had done more of before traveling abroad previously was to learn about the countries history. It is something that many of us think we know because we have learned the basic history, but we don't really know as much as we think. So I strongly urge you to find a short read or a long read to make you more comfortable getting to know the environment you will be studying or traveling in. And if you are taking classes, like I am, on Australian (or another country) history, you will not only stand out in class but adjust more comfortably in a new environment. 

P.S: I hope this will get people more interested in reading in general, it is important to find what you like and maybe it’s fun books like these!

By doing the right research, reading the right blogs (like this one), and talking to the right people, you will be very prepared and feel less anxious and nervous before your trip and ready to tackle anything that comes your way while you are abroad.