By Olivia Smith, History, Australian National University, Australia.
Ok so I may have been putting off writing this blog for as long as possible because it’s actually so sad that my Australian adventure is officially over. But, I’m back in England and over the jet lag (good luck with that to any future travellers), and feel like now is as good a time as ever to document the highs of my study abroad, in the best country in the world (not lying).
Top 5 Moments
Sydney is soooo cool. Before I went to Australia I was gutted that my university in Canberra was inland and a little way from major cities, but I stayed in Sydney for a week before uni began and managed to visit 4 or 5 times over the semester. The 3 hour bus ride to Sydney is literally nothing compared to the distances to other places; it’s maybe hard to fathom the size of Australia until you’re actually there but you can pretty much cross Europe in the time it takes to fly from Perth to Melbourne… Anyway. Sydney is super nice, with amazing beaches, including ofc. Bondi and my favourite, smaller more secret beaches around the north east of the city. We went for Mardi Gras (google it) which I’d 100% recommend. It’s also sooo easy to get around as the public transport is so good. Also despite the lock-out laws, the night life is still pretty good, just make sure you get to the club or whatever before 1am (harder than it seems).
4. AFL Game
For my birthday in April my friends surprised with tickets to an Aussie Football League match & it was seriously so fun. We watched the Western Bulldogs play the GWS Giants, and even though at the start of the match I was kinda unsure of the rules (it’s kinda complicated but think of a mix between Gaelic football & ‘soccer’ & rugby), by the end I was fully into it, screaming along with the crowd and everything (how embarrassing). Sadly, amongst all the cheering and birthday merriness I didn’t manage to take many photos so you’ll have to Google it; but basically if you have the chance to see an Aussie Rules match, definitely do.
During the Easter break pretty much all international students take the chance to travel and see as much as they can while they have no uni; my Canadian friend and I decided to visit the Philippines and Bali.The flights were obviously super cheap compared to flying from the UK, and we paid around £600 for the round trip with a total of 5 flights. I literally cannot recommend the Philippines more. We’d done the whole city travel around Australia so both wanted a lil relaxing beach holiday. We picked a random island called Busuanga basically because the flights from the mainland were cheapest, and chose a hostel we thought looked decent online. Depending on what kinda holidays you like this may not be for you but for us, 4 nights here were perfect. No hot water, no wifi, and limited electricity may sound like a millennial’s hell but it was weirdly nice to zone out for a while & properly enjoy the trip. You can ofc. pay more for amenities and stay somewhere built of actual bricks rather than just wood. We hitch hiked around the mainland, hired boats to hop between islands and snorkelled and sunbathed on the some super beautiful beaches; it was seriously paradise.
Where the Philippines is basically untouched, Bali is the Australian go-to destination and it a lot more touristy in the central areas. We stayed in Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, on Gili Trawangan, and on Nusa Lembongan, and I’d rank them in that order. There were again some amazing beaches, and we visited coffee plantations, rice fields, waterfalls and temples, and climbed a volcano at 4am to watch the sunrise (10/10 would recommend, although I nearly fell over like 100 times). Also there’s quite a night life in Kuta and Seminyak so that was fun.
2. Melbourne & The Great Ocean Road
Sorry Mum and Dad but I’m moving to Melbourne xxx Even after Asian adventures I was still most blown away by the Aussie landscapes. Melbourne was my favourite city; it’s maybe not as tropical as Sydney can be but it felt way more like home because it’s a lot younger and slightly more European. There are some really cool streets with cute cafes and yummy restaurants, the night life is waaaaay better than any other city I visited, and the beaches aren’t half bad either. If you find yourself in the city, embrace the touristness & visit the National Gallery, Eureka Skydeck, the Botanical Gardens etc. (basically Google top 10 things to do in Melbourne and do them).
From Melbourne we drove along the Great Ocean Road which is sooo amazing, I went back twice more. It’s basically the southern coastline of Victoria and you can drive for hours and not get bored of the view. Some of the spots are tourist highlights, like the 12 Apostles or London Arch, but it’s totally worth pushing through the crowds to get the perfect photo. Basically if you love the ocean / beaches / pretty views then take a weekend to do this.
1. Uni / College Life
Woo cheesy last paragraph ! So cliché of me to say that the best thing about my study abroad were the friends I made but it’s actually true. There’s no way my semester would have been half as amazing had I not met these people; living on campus in college was such a good choice as it pretty much forces you to interact with people, and I’m SO glad it did. I ended up changing my flight home to a month later so I could visit my new friends around Aussie and stay with them in college literally until my visa expired. There was always something going on and always someone keen to adventure with, and I managed to see pretty much all of Canberra because of that. As the wise Asher Roth once said, I <3 College.
Okay that’s my essay over. Super sad that my Aussie adventure has come to an end but I know I’ll be back as soon as possible, that I’m not gonna lose touch with the people I met. Studying abroad was the best thing I’ve ever done and I can’t stress more the importance of seizing every opportunity given to you !! Clichés and cheesiness over, one last good luck to all future travellers,