By Beth Enderwick (University of Queensland, Australia)
This may be slightly premature but Brisbane may be my favourite city ever. Admittedly, I’d never left Europe before now but that’s besides the point. In addition to daily sunshine (even in winter), super friendly locals and remarkable views wherever you go, there is such a relaxed atmosphere here. I must confess that I didn’t know much about Brisbane before deciding to study abroad; all I knew is that I wanted to go to Australia. I was under the impression that Sydney and Melbourne were the most popular choices so I chose Bris thinking I’d have a higher chance of getting a place. After spending the first two weeks exploring Brisbane and meeting the locals (and by locals I mean kangaroos and koalas), I’m so glad I chose this university and also somewhat guilty for not knowing more about it prior to arrival.
The whole concept of moving to the other side of the world didn’t phase me too much until saying bye to my mum at the airport. After that point, I didn’t know if I felt more nervous or excited. As a bit of a home-bird, I was worried about wanting to return in the first week. It was reassuring that I had a house to move straight into but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you know someone in Oz to check it’s legit. The other options are halls (very expensive) or staying in a hostel. Now I’m here, I’ve realized hostels aren’t as daunting as they seem.
The time spent from finishing second year, up to my 23 hour plane journey consisted entirely of spending time with friends and families so I wasn’t best prepared. Both my hand and hold luggage were overweight which incurred a £92 excess fee (1kg in excess costs the same as 8kg) and I stupidly packed my laptop into the hold. Of course, on arrival in Bris I found my laptop screen to be utterly smashed. However, I’d already met some lovely people on the plane and a group of other students in the free UQ-airport-transfer who I’m now good friends with so this didn’t dampen my spirits too much! Plus the dreaded long haul journey was over and I was living in Australia so it was hard to be glum.
Disregarding the time difference, jet lag and lack of rain, the move felt a lot like returning to Manchester. I’d already adapted to living away from home and fending for myself; I still keep forgetting I’m nearly 16,500 km away from home. Nonetheless, there are many differences. I can guarantee you’ll neverarrive at uni feeling gloomy and wet after a rainy walk along Oxford Road; the journey to UQ is a sunny one. Walking around campus you’ll find turkeys, ibises and bearded dragons but this feels completely normal after a few days. There are magpies too but be warned: they may swoop you. There’s also a multitude of exciting societies to choose from. I’ve had to try my hardest to stay away from the football club as I want to experience things I can’t in Manchester. Instead I’ve joined the wakeboard/waterski society and yoga society. Yoga is $5 for the whole semester which is extremely good value for money. UQ also has QUEST (Queensland University Exchange Student socieTy) which makes it soo easy to meet like-minded people and travel the whole east coast!
Time well spent
Until now, I’ve very much been in holiday mode. I can’t explain how fast time is going here and how much I’ve seen already. Some of the activities with QUEST include trekking up to Mt Coot-tha for indescribable views of the city (well in our case, bagging a lift to the top with the execs) and arriving at uni at 5am to purchase tickets for the Byron Bay trip. Another highlight was visiting Surfer’s Paradise which is easily accessible from Brisbane; another advantage to living here! Here, I attempted surfing for the first time in a sea where the waves towered over me. I would’ve had photos to share but one huge wave in particular robbed my GoPro from my hand and it is now lost in the sea forever. Regardless of this it was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had and I couldn’t help thinking how lucky I was to be living in such a beautiful place for the next 6 months. Alas, my mini holiday is over and I’m back to studying. This feels very strange as our end-of-year exams were only last month but at least I’ll have a long Christmas holiday with no exams – bliss!
So if you’re considering studying in Oz: weigh your suitcase before leaving, keep valuables on your person on flights and if you are bringing a go pro in the sea (or anywhere really, they’re expensive) buy some sort of strap so you don’t lose it. Finally, wear sun cream – UV radiation is dangerous here and be careful with your choice of clothing to avoid bad tan lines…