By Amani Bates, University of Western Australia, Australia
G’day from down under!
I’ve sadly done more than half my time here in Perth and I must say I’ve absolutely loved it. The weather’s great, the people are friendly, and I’ve made some really cool friends and some amazing memories. I’d highly recommend it as a destination for your study abroad.
That said, there are a few things I wished I’d known before I got here, so here’s my list of tips!
by Emma Colson, University of Auckland, New Zealand
If you’re anything like me, the main motivation to studying abroad is to travel and explore another country. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to do this, but being a student, the commitment to studying means we can’t run around the country free rein as much as we’d love to. It goes without saying that university has to take priority, but that doesn’t mean you can’t free some time to appreciate the country you’re in without falling behind. So, I thought I’d share my experience so far of how I’ve balanced the two, and some tips on how to get the best of both worlds.
by Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia
As most my previous posts have emphasised, a work-fun balance is so important to get the most out of your year abroad.
At the top of my Aus bucket list was visiting Western Australia and its incredible beaches. A short break between summer term and Term 1 at UNSW came around and I quickly took the opportunity to get my uni work in order and book a trip to WA.
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.
By Honor Cessford, The Australian National Univeristy, Australia
I must admit, when I found out I was going to be living in Canberra for a year I was a little apprehensive due to its reputation. If you haven’t heard, Canberra is known to be a boring, lifeless city – however this is far from the truth! I am writing this as I finish my first semester at ANU, and I can say I love Canberra!
By Honor Cessford, Australian National University, Australia
After settling in well and completing my first semester at ANU, I had a two-week mid-semester break. The first week unfortunately consisted of completing assignments and revising for exams, however in the second week I went to Sydney with my friends, who are also on exchange from the UK.
By Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia
After multiple push-backs due to the pandemic, and 24 hours of travelling, I arrived down-under in Sydney around three weeks ago. Knowing first-hand the mixture of excitement, apprehension, and uncertainty, I thought I’d make a list to guide you through the transition into an exchange year and offer any tips from both my triumphs and mistakes, alongside my initial reflections.
by Cam Kruger, University of Queensland, Australia
I have always been a keen traveller and inclined to travel the world, so taking part in the study abroad programme seemed like a no brainer to me. After many hours of researching the university destinations as part of the UoM study abroad programme, Australia stood out to me the most, especially Queensland.
Even though Covid-19 restricted me from flying to different places in Australia, I have been actively finding places in Canberra to make up for the travel losses. If you are a student coming to ANU in the future, you are lucky because you will have a plethora of stunning places in Australia to visit, and the following recommendations will help you catch some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Canberra.
Mount Painter Nature Reserve
Mount Painter Nature Reserve has a beautiful sweeping view of north Canberra with easy access paths. People love to walk dogs and enjoying nature there. I got my favourite pic here!
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
A big big nature reserve in Canberra with plenty of wildlife. Instead of paying for an expensive ticket to the zoo, you can visit the Koala attraction. Also, keep an eye for different types of kangaroos on your venture in this reserve. They have picnic spots and BBQ facilities. Remember to be extra time cautious as it will determine your ability to see most of the place before it turns dark. For your notice, private vehicle access only.
Lake Burley Griffin
This is the lake that is popular among every ANU student for its convenience in terms of going for a walk, jogging, and picnic spots. It is just 15mins walk from campus. It takes about 8hrs to walk around the lake, where you will pass by the Australian national parliament, the national gallery, and the national library. The Canberra Balloon Speculator and Canberra Fireworks night (both in March) are some of the major events that are set beside the lake. Definitely recommend visiting the lake before sunset. It is AMAZING.
Red Hill Nature Reserve
Another beautiful and accessible reserve in Canberra. Lots of eye-catching rocks along the tracks and an overarching view at the top. What makes this reserve distinctive is not just its view, but also it has an aesthetic fine dining restaurant which has got one of the most spectacular views and a team that brings a unique mix of culinary and beverage experience to offer quality food and wines from independent makers worldwide. This restaurant is called the Onred restaurant and I definitely recommend this for a special occasion.
Last but not the least, Yarralumla is a beautiful suburb with one of the best real estate in Canberra (Most of the rich people from Canberra own the estates there). It’s very pretty!!
Like many people on exchange this year, I didn’t get the send off I had anticipated. In our pre-covid fantasies we imagined a month of BBQs on the beach, sunset hikes and cocktails at those bars we just hadn’t got round to visiting yet.
The reality couldn’t have been more different.
PHASE 1: MOVING OUT
To begin with Australia wasn’t too badly affected by the virus. While the UK infection rates were rocketing, Melbourne was yet to record a fatality. But we couldn’t predict what was round the corner and staying in Aus during a pandemic seemed risky, not to forget expensive.
With great hesitation, we ended the lease on our beautiful home and booked a flight back to the UK. Our decision to leave brought about a mad frenzy of selling furniture and rushed goodbyes. It wasn’t till we parted with our last pot plant, that we finally realised our time abroad had come to an end.
Well thats what we thought.
Only 45 minutes after we had gutted our ENTIRE house we received an email informing us that our flight had been cancelled and that unless we had a spare 10 grand lying around, we weren’t getting another one soon.
We were officially stuck in Melbourne with only Chinese leftovers, a legless table and a new family of mice for company.
PHASE 2: STRANDED
With no electricity and a rapidly deteriorating budget, things began to look pretty bleak. I made several attempts to contact the University of Melbourne in hope of securing temporary accommodation. Much to my dismay, our host university took no interest in our plea for help. Running out of options we were unbelievably grateful to receive a message from my Aussie course-mate. Having heard of our distress, she insisted we crashed at hers or at the very least used her wifi while we sought for solutions.
PHASE 3: LOCKDOWN IN AUS
After a much needed 2 days away from the family of mice, we were ready to launch our covid action plan! We had struck lucky with an incredibly cheap air bnb in the city centre as well as a new flight home in a fortnights time.
Making the most of a ‘bad’ situation we spent the next 2 weeks relaxing in our apartment, playing boardgames, ordering breakfast, holding makeshift spa nights and learning Spanish. Overtime the supermarkets restocked and we found ourselves with a plentiful supply of loo roll and watercolours. Shockingly, lockdown in a swanky inner city apartment wasn’t all that bad!
PHASE 4: TAKE OFF
In the days leading up to our flight we constantly refreshed our inboxes expecting to see a dreaded cancellation email. To our disbelief, no email appeared. In a groundhog day like manner, we repacked, put on our face masks and headed to the airport.
Our airport experience was anything but normal. Firstly, our flight was 25 hours long but we weren’t allowed to leave the plane during our stop over. Instead we waited for 2 hours in the dark while cleaners; dressed as futuristic spacemen, sterilised every surface. Making matters more bizarre, no hot food could be served. With nothing better to do, we spent the last tedious stretch of our journey reminiscing and scoffing our faces with endless supplies of kitkats.
PHASE 5: REFLECTIONS
So it mightn’t have been the perfect ending to the perfect time abroad.
But I can certainly say that for the amazing people I met, the incredible places I saw and the unforgettable memories I made, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Even though this semester was nothing similar to my earlier expectations, I am ultimate glad and grateful for this exchange experience. People’s lives suffer more or less under the global pandemic. However, I feel that coming to Australia and spending 6 months here was the best experience I could’ve gotten under COVID.
I was lucky to discover a course called “CBEA3001: Special Industry Project (SIP)”. This course provides students with the opportunity to work in a small cross-disciplinary team setting and solve a business problem presented by a local business client. Our client is an aboriginal corporation in Australia and we are matched with mentors from Pwc. By doing this course, I not only learned essential skills in consulting and gained the experience of working with diverse people and interacting with real client, but the project also gives me a chance to explore the aboriginal culture behind modern Australia. At the very beginning of the course when COVID hasn’t spread globally, the whole class went on an overnight trip to meet clients and get first-hand information of the project. We would have gone to meet clients again for the final presentation if the semester went normally. I would say that this course is definitely special and the hard skills and soft skills that I gained would be very helpful for career development.
Another course that I wished that I knew before is call “FINM3009 Student Managed Fund (SMF)”. This course provides students the opportunity to take responsibility for over $0.6 million worth of investments. They have 4 different roles under the course that you can apply based on the prerequisite courses you have taken.
Although SMF is very limited to student with finance background, SIP is open to every disciplines.
I am lucky to live at Wright hall, which is the newest and one of the best equipped flexible-catered accommodation on campus. Wright hall has a good proportion of domestic and international students. People at wright organised plenty of activities throughout the year. It has 7 floors and more than 500 residents living in the hall. I hardly feel lonely and don’t have to make much efforts to maintain the new established friendships because I can see those people every day!
For those of you who find it expensive living on campus while coming to exchange in Australia, I would say that living cost is generally higher here compared to Manchester. You would find food is a lot expensive as well. Therefore, the catered accommodation is not as expensive as it looks. If you want to be self-catered, B&G might be a good option as it is cheap and renowned for its good social experience.
Another highlight during the exchange is the sponsored Sydney finance trip that I went with ANU finance society. We visited 11 companies in 2 days and stay overnight in the CBD center. I found the event on Facebook, paid a small amount of community fee, and sent my CV to give a try. I wrote down this experience just to encourage the future exchange students to actively search for activities during exchange and be brave to take part in any opportunities. You exchange time is precious and limited, so make the most of it!
Finally, the softest part in this reflection belongs to the people that I met at ANU. Looking back one year ago, I got my exchange result and found that I didn’t get into Sydney and Melbourne. I was upset and hesitated to accept the offer. I talked to people and ultimately decided to go exchange even though the result was not ideal. Half year ago when I was stuck in China due to the Australia travel restriction, I didn’t give up and went to a third country to self-quarantine. Now all the coincidence and efforts make sense: Australian Capital Territory remains one of the safest places in Australia during the pandemic and I met lifelong friends at ANU. I have made memories with people and they will be the very few people to stay close in my life. I also know that I can take someone with me in this lifetime journey.