The End of a Chapter: Coming Home and Reminiscing

By Claire Muller (University of Sydney, Australia)

Hey Guys!

As of Wednesday (24th), it’s officially been a week since I left Australia and ended my study abroad year at USYD (University of Sydney). As sad as I was to leave Sydney, my friends and the wonderful memories I’ve made over the past year behind, I’ll admit that I am quite relieved and excited to be back home. A year can be quite a long time.

However, the thought of this chapter of my life finally coming to an end still saddens me a little. I will miss the friends I’ve made, who helped make my study aboard experience so much more fulfilling & excited as well as helped me become a more confident & life-loving individual. The fact that we are now on either side of the world, instead of on either side of a corridor, did put a damper to my mood a couple days before leaving. However, with the presence of Facebook and Facetime, I could easily have a chat and catch up with them, keeping the friendship going strong. Traveling to Australia from Europe, though expensive, is always a possibility to visit everyone back there. In my opinion, the thought of being able to keep in touch with everyone back in Australia helped with the somewhat sorrow I felt of leaving everyone behind.

There was a quote that I found whilst scrolling through Instagram that really hit home. It’s a quote by Thomas Wilder:

‘It’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t be in the next chapter, but the story must go on.’

I really could relate to the quote, particularly whenever I looked back on the adventures I had followed over the past year. As much as I will miss the people I’ve met there, the story must go on and my time in Australia is temporarily over for now.

Even though this chapter in my life has finally come to an end, I can rest assured that I have ended the chapter with no regrets. Before coming to Australia, I told myself that I wanted to leave with no regrets about my year abroad experience. I told myself that I would try to get out of my comfort zone, in any manner that I could; which I did through multiple ways (e.g. skydiving, bungy-jumping, getting a tattoo, driving on the wrong side of the road). I can honestly say that I have left Australia as a completely different person to who I was when I first arrived (in a good way), and I am so proud of myself for the accomplishments that I have been able to complete over the past year. I can only hope that I will look back on my time in Sydney with nothing but a smile.

I will always have fond memories of my time in Australia, because I was able to cross out quite a few bucket-list items (e.g. swimming along the Great Barrier Reef, holding a koala at Australia Zoo, witnessing sunset/sunrise at Uluru, seeing Tasmanian devils in the wild) as well as created many memories (e.g. Witnessing the Sydney New Year’s fireworks with my best friend, driving along the Great Ocean Road, walking through a rainforest surrounded by hundreds of birds, visiting old friends, spending my 21st birthday in New Zealand, etc.).

I will also have memories that I am not so fond of, some that I wish I could forget (e.g. having a Huntsman spider crawl up my leg whilst watching Harry Potter, queueing for 24hours in sun/rain/storm to see the New Year’s fireworks, walking up the Giant Staircase in Katoomba and finding out that there are actually 900+ steps to reach the top). However, even though I look at these memories negatively, I do not regret them because they made my time in Australia so much more interesting and livelier.

Honestly, as weird as this might sound to the majority of people returning from their time abroad, I am actually looking forward to returning back to Manchester for my final year, especially getting to see everyone again and catching up with their adventure. I actually have quite a bit planned for my final year at Manchester (e.g. society committees, internships, etc.), which probably helped with the blues I was feeling about leaving Sydney behind.

To sum my experience up, I don’t have any regrets and I’m happy about it.

Thank you for keeping up with my adventures! See you back in Manchester!

Claire

Making Friends Abroad (Introvert Edition)

Claire Muller – University Of Sydney, Australia 

Hey Guys!

So, I wanted to talk to you guys today about how I dealt with making friends, whilst being an introvert studying abroad. Studying abroad can be an extremely stressful situation; you are going to another country and culture, where you know no one and you have to try to find a way to thrive whilst also focusing on studying at the same time and being an introvert (making socializing a task in itself). You know… stressful. Anyway, I’ve come up with some ways to help you in navigating through your study abroad experience.

Continue reading “Making Friends Abroad (Introvert Edition)”

Finding Accommodation In Sydney: Thinking Outside the Box

Claire Muller – University of Sydney, Australia 

Hey guys,

So, I wanted to talk to you guys about the evidently stressful topic of trying to find the right accommodation for your time abroad. When researching options, you could be lucky and find an absolute gem or be faced with your worst nightmare. However, by doing the right research and keeping an open mind, you could be surprised by the options out there.  I’m going to give you a few options that might be of interest to you, all depending on what your needs and expectations are. I’ll also include some pros and cons to spice things up a little.

Continue reading “Finding Accommodation In Sydney: Thinking Outside the Box”

Earning Money Abroad: Thinking Outside The Box

Claire Muller – University of Sydney, Australia

Hey Guys!

So, I wanted to talk to you guys about the different ways you can earn money whilst you are abroad, if you want to earn a little extra pocket money or you aren’t able to get a more ‘stable’ job, such as a waitress, but still want to earn a bit of money. I’ve included a few options in this post in order for you to get a better idea of the options out there.

Continue reading “Earning Money Abroad: Thinking Outside The Box”

Semester 2: Reality Check

By Claire Muller, University of Sydney, Australia 

Hey guys!

So, I wanted to talk to you guys about my personal experience at the start of semester 2. So, to give you a bit of context, I have been studying at the University of Sydney since July 2018 and I am currently completing my second semester here. Now, before semester 2 started, I was feeling slightly apprehensive, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out compared to semester 1. In my opinion, semester 1 was absolutely amazing: I met so many interesting people and made unforgettable memories along the way.

I was thinking to myself: ‘Will semester 2 be just as good as semester 1?’.

Continue reading “Semester 2: Reality Check”

Getting a Job: Sydney Edition

By Claire Muller, University of Sydney, Australia 

Hey guys!

So, I wanted to talk to you guys about a few things concerning getting a job in Australia. I arrived in Australia in July and started looking a few weeks after I had settled in. However, it took me nearly 2-3 months to finally get a job. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way, so I thought I should share them with you.

Continue reading “Getting a Job: Sydney Edition”

Arrival and Initial Week in Sydney

By Claire Muller, University of Sydney, Australia 

Hey guys,

My name is Claire. I’m a third-year psychology student, currently on exchange at the University of Sydney for a year. I arrived back in July 2018, so this article is long overdue, but I wanted to tell you guys about how my arrival and the initial week in Sydney went.

I officially left Europe on the 17th of July. Saying goodbye to the fam at first wasn’t that bad, I was probably too excited about the journey ahead. However, once I reached Doha (Qatar), that is when reality struck me like a ton of bricks. I was thinking to myself: ‘Why did I have to pick an exchange destination literally across the other side of the world? What was I thinking? I mean I’m going to be gone for an entire year, if something happens, I stuck there.’ I might have also been panicking a little because I had never taken a 13hour flight by myself before.

Continue reading “Arrival and Initial Week in Sydney”

Road Trip – Western Australia

-We went in semester two, British semester one, during Australian winter/spring (but tbh there is only one season here in WA and that is summer!!).

-I live in college so we went in a group of ten (both Aussies and exchangers) from my college.

-It took us a week in total to drive up to Exmouth and back down again.

-I broke my finger the day before we left so I could only snorkel for one day as my cast was not meant to get wet.

-My top three favourite places we visited were:

  1. The pink lake! It looks even pinker in real life, and the ground is covered in a thick layer of salt.
  2. Turquoise bay, which has officially ruined beaches for me, as it is so lovely.
  3. Monkey Mia because when we were hanging out during the night, a dolphin came and swam alongside us for about 10 minutes (sadly I didn’t manage to film this).

 

 

How is academic life different at Auckland?

Emily Barnes // University of Auckland

After possibly the longest summer break ever (a whole 4 months!), I am finally back for my second semester at the University of Auckland. I spent most of the summer travelling around, with the highlights including a trip to the South Island where I visited Milford Sound in Fiordland and hiked the Abel Tasman Great Walk, which had some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.

Abel Tasman
Section of the Abel Tasman National Park walk 
milford sound
Moody Milford Sound

Continue reading “How is academic life different at Auckland?”

The First Day

By Issy (University of Sydney, Australia)

The First Day

Morning

After around 32 hours of travelling between time zones, at 9am local time I arrived at my Halls of Residence at the University of Sydney. With hair like a bird’s nest wrestling my heavy luggage into the building, the sight of me inspired pity in two girls that I will now forever remember as my ‘first friends’ in Sydney. They clearly recognised from experience the state I was in! After an extra sweaty check-in to my bedroom having mistaken the heating unit for air conditioning, I decided that it was time get a few of the important administrative bits and bobs out of the way so I could kickstart my new life.

Afternoon

PHONE – I didn’t manage to get my SIM card unlocked before I left the UK which delayed the process a little so get that sorted if you can – but don’t panic if you don’t manage to either – It just means I had to wait for around two days before I could purchase a new Australian SIM card.

BANK ACCOUNT – Commonwealth Bank in Australia is definitely the one to go for! Take along your passport, confirmation of enrolment and national insurance number for a smooth process – I rang my Dad at 4am English time asking him to rummage through my room at home for my old pay slips to find my national insurance number (This didn’t go down so well with him but the Aussies at the bank found it hilarious!) I suggest sorting your bank account out after you’ve sorted a SIM card as you can set up your Online Banking straight away then.

OPAL CARD – In Sydney, students are entitled to a Concession Opal Card which provides you with city travel at a much better rate than an Adult Opal Card. However, it requires an online application that I hadn’t yet completed. So, if you’re really prepared, get that sorted before you set off and use your accommodation address so that your opal card is delivered ready for your arrival! If (like me) you’re not quite as organised, I’d recommend just using an Adult Card temporarily which can be bought at most corner shops while your Concession Card gets processed – it will still be a life saver for those buses that are ‘PREPAY ONLY’.

DUVET – Taking a bus to Broadway Shopping Centre (with your swanky new Opal Card) is a great way to finish settling in. With a few different shops stocking homeware, I was able to compare prices and sort out a duvet and kitchen supplies on a budget. Even better, there is also a supermarket so you can get that fridge full all in the same trip. Make sure you take note of the size of your bed – I didn’t even know that ‘king-single’ was a size until I realised that the single sheet I had bought wasn’t going to fit!

Evening

Although the sleep-deprivation still prevailed after a power-nap, I decided to explore my Halls of Residence a bit more. It was during this jaunt that I bumped into the girls that had helped me earlier and we arranged a trip to Glebe Market (it has every stall you could possibly imagine as well as live music next to a massive picnic area) for the coming weekend – Our first of many trips to come! Despite being so tired and ready to curl up for the night, summoning up the last dregs of energy really taught me the importance of putting yourself out. Even now, I will always use the communal spaces instead of doing little tasks in my room like working or filling in my diary – coming across new people during these mundane activities is such a good way to engage with others. Who knew that writing a shopping list could spark such great conversation?!

An Ode to Rotto

Where: Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

When: November 2018 (Coming into Australian summertime, so it was hot!)

Rottnest Island a ferry ride away from Perth, is one of the ‘must see’ places I had been told to visit since I moved to Western Australia. For any of my fellow geographers, Rottnest is a sandy, low-lying island formed on a base of aeolianite limestone. Alongside Garden Island, Rotto is a remnant of Pleistocene dune ridge. The island was separated from the mainland about 7000 years ago due to sea level rise. However, human remnants have been found on the island dating back 70,000 years. The indigenous people of land known as the Noongar people, call the island Wadjemup and lived on the island before it detached from the mainland.

 The island is around 20km and we managed to explore it in a day. We hired bikes, stopping off and enjoying hidden beaches throughout the day. However, we plan to go back for a weekend and camp over-night.  The wildlife in Rottnest is what makes it so special. Extensive reefs surround the island, that you can see in the incredibly clear water as you arrive by ferry, and snorkel in the warm waters. Bottlenose dolphins and migrating humpbacks are welcome visitors of the island and the Perth canyon just off the island is one of the main habitats for blue whales in Australia.

Overall, the absolute highlight of Rottnest or as the Aussies call it Rotto. Aside from the great views, beautiful beaches, amazing snorkelling or enjoyable cycling tracks are the super friendly quokkas. These little creatures are marsupials, and like kangaroos carry their joey’s in their pouches. They are about the size of a cat and just as friendly, allowing you to approach them seemingly unfazed by humans. The island actually gets its name from the Quokka. In the 1600’s Dutch colonisers believed the Quokkas to be giant rats, and thus named the small island ‘Rotte Nest’ after the Dutch word Rattennest meaning rats nest. Rotto is one of the few areas in the world where the native quokka can be found. This is due to the exclusion of natural or introduced predators. Their only predators being snakes, who thankfully aren’t as friendly.

Known as ‘the worlds happiest animal’, Quokkas are celebrities on the island with many trying to get a quick pic with the creature.

The picture that made the Quokka famous (2012).
Roger Federer and a Quokka.
If you close one eye and squint, it looks like Michael Buble and a Quokka.

I can’t wait to go back and visit this rare and uniquely beautiful island, and hopefully meet up with some more Quokkas.

Several months back into normality

Georgi Fogarty (University of Queensland)

It’s been seven months since I waved goodbye to Brisbane and five months since I returned to sunny, sunny England (to clear up confusion the two-month gap was not all spent in transit, although the flight can feel that long – I spent this time working in Greece). The time has absolutely flown and the tan has definitely disappeared, but now I’ve just about had the chance to take a breathe since being home, it’s time to reflect on the ups and downs of returning from such an incredible experience of a year abroad.

The down sides.

Despite returning in late August when the days were long and the air was warm, writing this now in bitter January makes warm weather seem like a very, very distant memory. One of the questions I’ve been asked most since being back is ‘don’t you really miss the weather?’. Yes. Yes, I do miss the weather. Please stop reminding me about how warm I was this time last year while I’m in my draughty student house without heating.

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Almost as beautiful as Oxford Road

Another aspect I’ve not been enjoying adjusting to is regaining the academic mindset I’d built up during first and second year at Manchester. Not only did I find my course content easier last year, I also didn’t feel such extreme pressure to achieve the top possible grades due to only having to pass the year, so found myself a little more relaxed  than usual. Now coming back to my fourth and final year of university I’m finding myself having to having to mentally re-train myself to pile the pressure on, as there’s no way I can be coasting at the most important stage of my academic career so far. Don’t get me wrong, having a more relaxed year is never something you’ll hear me complain about; however having to hit the ground running again when I’d gotten used to strolling was a bit of a shock to the system.

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Back to living in the library

Finally, I never thought I’d hear myself say this but I miss my job. I spent many, many hours last year working in an extremely high-quality, high-pressure restaurant which I didn’t particularly enjoy. However, the fact that the minimum wage in Australia is twice what it is in England meant that despite the higher living cost I was living like a queen to some extent. I definitely took this for granted at the time; although I’ve been lucky enough to get my job back at the same lovely family-run restaurant I worked at during first and second year, pay-day doesn’t quite have the same thrills and it feels extremely frustrating being paid half the amount for the exact same hours.

 

The positives

Coming back from Australia definitely has not been all doom and gloom. Seeing my friends for the first time in over 14 months had to be one of the best feelings in the world. One of the things I did dislike about Brisbane was being in a completely different time zone to most of my friends – if we wanted to call, it would have to be planned in advance so we could do the maths in terms of time difference, and the internet was so poor in my house that calls were usually distorted and cut off prematurely. One thing that I’d missed so much about Manchester is having all of my friends a stone’s throw away, and this is so great to be able to experience again. Many of my friends also went on a year abroad meaning they’re now back in Manchester which is extremely lucky, and being able to properly hear about all of their experiences face to face has been incredible. Saying goodbye to all the friends I made last year was hard, don’t get me wrong, but this was made easier due to the fact that most of the people I met in Australia actually go to University in Leeds. This means if I do need someone to moan to about the cold to or take a stroll down memory lane with, they’re only an hour or so away.

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An Australia-themed reunion with friends from Brisbane in Leeds

Despite what I previously mentioned about having to pile the pressure on myself for fourth year, I quickly realised upon beginning classes again that having an extra year of knowledge has been more beneficial than I could have ever imagined. Classes I took last year have given me an entirely different perspective and background knowledge on topics involved in the modules I’m studying this year, meaning I’m far better able to form opinions and arguments. I am very aware that I’m stating the absolute obvious here and that of course an extra year of studying at university will give people an academic advantage, but I’m finding it incredibly beneficial and it’s always good to address.

Lastly, as strange as it sounds being framed as a positive point, one thing I’ve found extremely positive about being back is knowing that I only have one more year of commitment tying me to living in the UK. Having experienced living abroad has only increased my urge to live in different places and try new experiences. Although I am enjoying being back home and finishing my degree, I’m finding it so exciting knowing that this time next year I could be anywhere in the world, and having a home base and being surrounded by supportive friends and family while I explore all my options is such a good feeling. Having an open road with no set plan after summer is a little scary, but I’m definitely looking at it as although one door is closing, countless more are opening and I’m excited to get back out there.

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