by Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia
In October I was in full swing of my first full semester at UNSW and the 14th October marked my final deadline before ‘reading week’ aka spring break. Myself and 8 friends headed off to Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Rainbow Beach in what was my first time leaving Sydney since arriving in August. Studying abroad in such an incredible country like Australia means it’s even more important to be organised with uni work so that you are able to squeeze in as much travel as possible. So, hopefully some of the below pointers are useful.
- Be organised with deadlines
I won’t lie and pretend I am a pro at this. Confession: I was working at the Bruno Mars concert in Sydney till around midnight (around 10 hours before my flight to Byron) and had to come home and finish off an assignment, but I was determined not to take my laptop away with me so I had to get it done. I allocated the week before travelling to prepping ahead for any other deadlines that were occurring whilst I was away, which meant I was able to properly relax on the trip.
2. Try and spend some time in hostels
Despite being a large group, we were all really keen to have a sociable trip and meet as many people as possible. Some of our favourites included Arts Factory in Byron Bay, and Pippies Beach Hostel in Rainbow Beach (they also do the 3-day camping trips to K’Gari Fraser Island). One of the best things about hostels is that 99% of people are also keen to chat and socialise and it really broadens your networks in Australia. I’m not going to lie, sleeping in a 16-bed hostel is far from glamorous and by the end of the trip everything you own will feel dirty, but its definitely worth trying if you are looking to meet new people. One of the other perks is that the hostels here offer great activities and discounts, such as surf lessons, kayaking, day trips, yoga lessons, so if you didn’t plan many activities like us it’s super helpful.
3. Embrace La Nina
Australia is currently experiencing its third wet summer in a row because of La Nina and about 60% of our trip was rainy, so it’s important to have some back-up plans that don’t involve the beach. One of our rainy days in Brisbane was spent at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which I couldn’t recommend more; here you can feed Kangaroos, hold Koalas, and see a multitude of other Aussie animals such as Dingos and Tasmanian Devils. One of our Byron days was spent at ‘The Farm’ which again hosted lots of wildlife as well as great food and drink.
4. Save your dollars with Greyhound buses
Apart from our flight to Byron, and back from Sunshine Coast, we used Greyhound buses between each location which offers a much cheaper way of travelling than flying. Whilst out trip was slightly too short to warrant purchasing this, they also do budget passes which you can buy for periods of time when you know you will be travelling a lot. They are also full of backpackers so again it’s a great way of meeting people – (one of the people sat next to us on the way to Rainbow beach ended up in our hostel and we spent a few days with them).
Overall, studying abroad is very much a work-hard play-hard balance. Coming back from incredible trips and experiences like these not only encourage you to plan more travelling, it also motivates you to get the most out of the semesters when a greater focus on work is necessary. Organisation is definitively key for a balance between hitting deadlines and exploring new places!