Published: Nov. 21, 2019 By


In July, when I arrived in Sydney for my semester-abroad, I was surprised by the cold weather and lack of man-eating spiders. I rushed to the beach and jumped in just to shiver away after I got out. But as spring rolled in, as I settled into life at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and as I became great friends with people from all over the world I began to realize how magical this place really is—and how lucky I am to be here. From the diversity of food to the wide range of architecture, this city is so multicultural that I’ve learned just as much about the world as I have about Australia.

Studying in the conservatorium is an absolute blast. It looks like a castle and is located within Royal Botanical Gardens, just a few blocks from the Sydney Opera House. My musical highlights include playing in an wonderful Gamelan ensemble (the traditional musical ensemble of Indonesia), studying composition with the brilliant Gerard Brophy, seeing the Emerson String Quartet perform Bartok’s Fifth String Quartet, attending the Sydney Symphony’s performance of Holst’s The Planets at the opera house, performing with the university’s choir and conducting an original composition for the very first time. I’m excited about this piece I am writing for percussion only—I’m sure it will find its way onto an upcoming Pendulum concert. I was also fortunate to be able to visit New Zealand, a place which has some of the most breath-taking natural landscapes I have ever seen.


Now, I’ve been in Sydney for three months. Of course I miss Colorado, my friends and family, and the CU College of Music. I will return for Christmas… I can’t wait to go skiing. However, my focus right now is to really live in the moment, compose music, relax on the beach, and spend time with my friends during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Moving to a new culture is a true test of one’s ability to adapt, and it has honestly taken me a long time to feel comfortable with myself in this new environment. But through all the challenges that come with this experience comes even more personal growth. I’ve never been more confident to take on my future.

Thank you to everyone back home who helped me get here. I look forward to seeing you at Pendulum concerts in the spring!

All the best to Colorado from Sydney, Australia, - Jack Gaffney. 

Opera House