Ummm HELP??! – Tips on living in Brisbane

So it’s been over a year since I was in Brisbane, Australia – over a year of sarcastic ‘sO yOu WeNt tO AuStRaLiA?! You never mentioned that!’ and of answering the questions of prospective Aussie travellers. I’ve noticed a trend in the questions i’ve been asked so I thought i’d write a somewhat practical blog telling the story of my fears and big questions, and some tips on day-to-day life as a student in Brisbane. I hope that this shows the big stresses of studying abroad aren’t really as big as they seem!

What about the BUGS??!! 

Thought i’d mention this first. It’s Australia right? And yeah, it’s all true, they still have dinosaurs over there, and there’s flying spiders as big as your face buzzing about ready to eat you alive as soon as you step out of your house.

Nah just kidding, but I was pretty on edge when I first arrived. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was greeted by Jonathan, a beast of a spider sitting in a web right outside my ground floor window. I also remember checking under my covers and pillow every night for the first 2 weeks in the hope there was nothing under there to ambush me. Turns out mutant insects don’t exist, and giant spiders, especially when you live in the city, are pretty rare.

The worst experience I had with the Aussie bugs was during a road trip down the east coast. We decided to visit a hidden spot on the edge of a tropical forest where there was a rope swing and a big pool of water. It was so sick, but the only problem was the plague of horse-flies surrounding the water, and as soon as they caught wind of you they would swarm. The only way to escape them was dive under water or run for your life.

Getting away from the airport…

Don’t forget to book an airport pick up!! UQ and many other universities provide them depending on what uni you are going to, so book one a week or so in advance. I was silly and forgot to do this, but was saved by Jonno, a contact I was lucky to have in Brisbane.

Getting around in Brisbane

For a normal day of university or just exploring the city, having a ‘GO card’ is absolutely necessary in Brisbane. They are super easy to pick up, any Coles, newsagent or 7/11 (a small shop similar to Co-op but cheaper, and can be found on nearly every street) does them. All you have to do is beep them on their beeper on a bus/ferry at the start and end of every journey. Top them up by just handing them in at the 7/11 till or online at translink.com.au. I used to live in West End, so to get to UQ i’d take a bus and then a ferry across the river, which took me straight to campus. Also, I would be so lost in the world without google maps. Keep your phone and that trusty app always!

Food + shops

The two big supermarkets in Brisbane are Woolworths (yeah it still exists?!) and Coles. There is a sort of rivalry between the supermarkets, and most Aussies decide to be either a ‘woolys’ or Coles shopper. Both are similar in price. I used Coles, because they were closest to me, and they used to do these really cool mini plastic vegemite toys if you spent over $40 in a shop.

Speaking of money…

I used ‘Transferwise’ to convert my English £ to Australian $. There’s an app which is super easy to use, you simply type what amount of money you want to convert, it shows you the rate at which it will convert and then sends you the money within a day or so.

I set up a bank account with Commonwealth bank, which are also really easy to use and have an online banking app. There are Commonwealth banks scattered all around Brisbane.

What time did you have to travel?

If you’re organised and do work in weekdays, that leaves weekends free for travel, which is the most common strategy for study abroad students it seems. You also get a break in the middle of the semester of a week or 2. Many students also travel after their exams, which is probably the longest and most stress free time which is definitely worth taking advantage of!

My thoughts

Study abroad is full of random things to get stressed about. It seems like there’s so many things to keep on top of, especially before you leave! And yet, from my experience, the worries are certainly not as big and bad as they all seem. The important thing is to keep an open mind and HAVE FUN 🙂

The Manc Student: An Unexpected Journey (post-uni travelling)

…A brief account of my journey to Middle Earth (aka. New Zealand, aka. land of beautiful mountains)…

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Milford Sound, New Zealand

Most study abroad students, it seems, save at least a few weeks post-exams (after the official study abroad period) to travel. And why not! Having travelled so far to a place like Australia, NZ was temptation too great to resist.

One of my best friends from primary school, Joel, lived in Wellington at the time I studied abroad, so before i’d even left for Australia we planned a grand tour of NZ south island for the weeks after my time at UQ had finished. We arranged the trip with a company called kiwi tours, and before I knew it UQ exams had finished and I was flying out to Wellington to see Joel again. It was pretty crazy to re-unite – I hadn’t seen him for 3 years! We hung out for a bit in Wellington then took the ferry to south island to start the trip. At the beginning it wasn’t all fun, because transitioning from lovely sunny Australia at the near height of summer to the mild NZ temperature of 15 degrees was terrible. I remember curling up in the corner of the ferry wearing 4 jumpers and my woolly hat, just shivering all the way to south island.

We started in a little coastal town called Picton where we boarded the kiwi tours coach, which travelled clockwise around the coast of the island for 2 weeks. In a nutshell the trip was mostly jumping between hostels in coastal towns and cities. At each stop there would be loads of different things to do. To name a few, me and Joel ended up surfing on the west coast, kayaking in big glacial lakes, bungie jumping the world famous Nevis bungie jump, went mountain biking and partied with loads of other backpackers we met along the way. Bye bye leftover money 🙂

One of the most notable sights on the trip was Milford Sound, a famous fiord on the west coast of south island with the most incredible views. If you are ever fortunate enough to find yourself in New Zealand, this is a sight you shouldn’t miss (Also, if you didn’t already know, most of the Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand, and i’m a massive Tolkien nerd. I was insanely excited to visit places like the southern alps, aka. misty mountains in the LotR flms, which were just as notable as Milford Sound).

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Nevis Bungy, Christchurch, New Zealand
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Kayaking in the trendy coats they made us wear

Hostel living was tough but rewarding. You have to cook your own dinners in most hostels, meaning a quick shop at the nearest supermarket at each stop. The diet was mostly pasta and snacks like crackers. At one point we came across a fruit market which sold Joel a massive 8kg sack of apples for 7 dollars, so that kept us going for a bit too. The sleeping situation in hostels also takes some getting used to. You could be sharing a dorm with 4 people in one place and 20 people in the next, and alarms will be blaring from 4 am. But it’s all worth it because you meet some amazing characters in these places, and the freedom of hostel living is what backpacker culture relies on.

After the 2 weeks exploring the south we travelled back to where Joel was based on north island, Palmerston north. I stayed with the family Joel was living with, who graciously hosted this random smelly English backpacker for a week. It just so happened that during my stay there, the family were hosting a wedding ceremony! It was an honour to be a part of the wedding, which involved features of Māori culture, elements of which are still deeply rooted in the life of many New Zealanders and which remains a deeply loved cultural heritage.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore much of north island before my return trip to the UK, but it’s on my future travel plans list! The north island is known to be the more culturally rich of the two islands, whereas south island is where most of the famous natural sites and mountain ranges are. If you visit I would recommend spending at least 2 weeks on each island to experience the minimal amount of what there is to see in NZ. For such a small country, it is so rich in new experiences. So if you have time post-studies, don’t rush off back home if you don’t have to! Experience the country you’re in and anything else you want to see nearby without the stress of university.

 

It’s been a year already?!

I hope you appreciate that slice of The Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Juicy’, it took me ages to work out how to do that. It actually reveals a deep suspicion i’ve had for a while now – did I really study abroad? Or was it all a dream?!

It’s been so long since I left for Australia. After a year it seems almost as if I never really went. To have such an intense, unique experience and then almost suddenly leave it behind for your life to continue back home would have anybody questioning what on earth just happened. (Side note; honestly on this freezing cold November afternoon i’m starting to question whether the sun was part of this study abroad dream. Here, in Manchester, I can definitively say that the sun does not exist. I didn’t realise as I flew out of Brisbane airport I would be waving goodbye to both Australia and the SUN). So, in a way I guess studying abroad is dreamlike. For a long time it’s the only thing on your mind. There is preparation, scheduling, excitement and sheer panic for a lot of the time leading up to it. Then the actual experience is intense and fleeting. Finally as if waking up from a dream, life resumes at home. You’re left thinking ‘wow that was pretty cool’, and then dive back in to the business of English life and dreaded final year projects. In this sense the experience builds a degree of mental resilience – it’s a lot to come out of being abroad and carry on studying.

The aftermath of studying abroad isn’t all that gloomy though. There are loads things that have come out of it. For me, i’ve been inspired to travel so much more. It’s mental how flying out to a foreign country once on your own makes you realise how much freedom you have. Just this summer I visited some Dutch friends in Amsterdam that I met in Brisbane (big up foreign friends and free overseas accommodation 😉 ). Afterwards I spent 2 weeks driving around the entire coast of Ireland in a camper with 4 other guys. This is a super corny thought but the good times aren’t over when you come home – it’s accurate to say studying abroad is a catalyst for even more crazy adventures later.

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Silly times climbing the tallest mountain (Carrauntoohil) in Ireland – we left way too late & got lost in the dark trying to get back

My aim in this post isn’t to villainize England. Coming home is necessary! However I think the ‘dreamlike’ nature of going abroad resonates with a lot of the people that have studied abroad themselves. To me it was like a roller-coaster that I decided to just dive off at the end. Theoretically I could have stayed on that ride forever and not bought a return ticket, to become some sort of surfer hermit and live out my days in a beach hut. As much fun as that might’ve been I, unfortunately, had a million good reasons to come home.

Fear not fellow travellers, this isn’t the first and last time we experience the amazingness that is study abroad. It was not some one off dream. There is literally the world to explore and SO much time to do it!

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That’s definitely the back of my head in Australia – we can confirm it was not a dream

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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Australian winter: tis the sea-sun

By Georgi Fogarty, University of Queensland

 

No matter where you are in the world, there will always be that short-lived sigh of relief between the last assignment and the start of exams. Fortunately for me, coming towards the end of my time in Australia motivated me to seize this fleeting moment devoid of academic stress and do something useful with it. So once my last few assignments were submitted and I had returned from Stradbroke island (which you can read about in another of my recent blog posts), I had decided that I am no longer a mainland person and started researching my next getaway. Having recently explored the second largest sand island in the world, I set my sights on the only thing better: the largest. Fraser island!

I quickly discovered that this wasn’t going to be the cheap and easy ride that Stradbroke was. The route to Fraser was much longer and far more expensive, involving 4 hours on trains up to the Sunshine coast, another hour and a half coach to a privately-owned ferry port and a ferry over to the island, which as it is privately owned costs $160 for one vehicle(!). The trip also includes other sky-high costs such as a national park fee, camping fee or accommodation costs and all the other necessary amenities like food, as supplies on the island are few and far between. Due to not having time to plan our trip too thoroughly, we decided to go with a tour group. These are extremely popular and there are several companies that promote similar routes; after a fairly short cost-benefit analysis we decided to stick to a 2 day 1 night whistle-stop tour.

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The beach adapted 4×4 hybrid coach picked us up from Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast at ridiculous o’clock in the morning on day 1 and took us further up the coast to the ferry port (a humble shack on the beach) where we crossed the surprisingly short distance to the island. Fraser island is what you’d expect from an island formed entirely from sand – almost nothing but beaches, trees and cliffs. Extremely natural and unspoilt, or so it felt in the dead of winter, anyway. Our tour guide later explained to us that during the summer periods when the island is at peak tourist season, each attraction you can stop at has between 500-600 people swarming around. We very luckily avoided this and had most attractions to ourselves within our tour group, which consisted of 11 people. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable on the island’s history, geography and Aboriginal culture and told us extensively about each point we visited. When we first arrived, we were driven down 75 Mile Beach (yes, it’s huge!) to our first stop: Lake Birrabeen.

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The water was freezing but so blue, and we had a little splash about before being whisked off through the jungle to our second stop, an area in the woods called Central Station. It was named this during the height of the logging industry that operated on the island before it became a protected national park. Central Station now houses the remnants of this industry; all that’s left are some derelict houses and machinery amongst the redwoods. A little eerie, but still beautiful. Logging stopped on Fraser around 50 years ago and the recovery is slow but sure. As well as the hundreds of tree and plant species, it’s also home to native wildlife such as Dingoes and koalas. We unfortunately didn’t see any of these, however we did manage to catch a glimpse of sting rays, sharks, dolphins and whales from a lookout point called Indian Heads the next morning, which more than made up for it!

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Shark-watching from a (very) safe distance.

We spent the night at a relatively luscious resort somewhere along 75 Mile Beach, which was extensively fenced off to prevent any Dingoes wandering in and wreaking havoc. The stars were incredibly clear due to the complete lack of light pollution, which always makes a refreshing change after spending lots of time in a city. Our stops the next day included Indian Heads, a beautiful freshwater stream called Eli creek, and my personal favourite: a huge rusted shipwreck, which washed up on Fraser island in the 1960s. It was used as a hospital ship in WWI, and later for bombing practice by the Australian army after it was found beached on the island (uninhabited of course). By the afternoon of the second day we were absolutely not ready to say goodbye, but our time was up and we very unwillingly parted from Fraser and all its beauty and charm. I’m not prepared to accept that I’ll never visit Fraser Island again, and it’s given me even more motivation to revisit this area of the world again as soon as I can.

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Us with ‘The Maheno’

Student housing – the more the merrier?

Georgi Fogarty (University of Queensland, Australia)

 

Housing can be one of the biggest worries when moving abroad, especially when you don’t particularly know anyone that’s going out with you. As a bit of a social butterfly, I had my sights set on a living situation that would allow me to meet a lot of people -ideally university halls, or a share house if not. Unfortunately, university halls were extremely far out of my budget which initially worried me as that’s where I’d envisioned myself; halls seem perfect as everybody is in the same boat of not knowing anyone. So in a slightly less than ideal but fairly common situation, I found myself arriving in Australia in July and being welcomed with open arms by a hostel ( admittedly not the homeliest) while I searched for somewhere more permanent. I’ll admit it’s not the best situation to be in when you’re brand new to a country but the time flew by and after a week of manic house viewings, estate agent visits and sending messages on all sorts of housing advertisement sites, I found myself signing a contract into a student share house. It was pretty much exactly what I’d wanted – a house in one of the most sought-after suburbs in Brisbane filled with other brand new international students, all small fish in a big shiny new pond. The catch? The house had the capacity to accommodate 30 people. That’s 30 raucous students under one roof. It definitely set me up for an interesting year.

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All of these beautiful people under one roof?

 

 

THE LOGISTICS

  • The old part of the house is an ‘Old Queenslander’ style, the same as most residential houses around the East coast of Australia. This basically means it’s big, airy, wooden and set on stilts for ventilation. It’s then been extended backwards, forwards, sideways, below – most possible directions – to make room for the 29 bedrooms (one is designed for 2 people to share).
  • We have two kitchens (one upstairs, one downstairs), 5 bathrooms, 2 living areas and a very comfortably sized garden with a barbecue: great for if the kitchens get overcrowded at mealtimes.

THE DRAWBACKS

  • Without a doubt, the mess. Imagine this: everybody has a glass of water and completely unintentionally forgets to wash up the glass. That’s immediately 30 dirty glasses covering every surface, table, wall, floor, ceiling – you get the picture.
  • You’re never alone. This can be bittersweet when the time comes that you come home from a long day at uni and just want to make a cup of tea without having to make conversation with 16 different people in the kitchen.
  • There is a definite and prominent lack of resources. At 7pm when 17 people are battling for the dinner rush front line on the ONE oven in the upstairs kitchen, things can get a little hectic. The same happens when 6 people simultaneously run for a shower before uni. Chaos.
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Mid attempt to round up the troops in the garden

 

THE POSITIVES

  • First and foremost, the social aspect was amazing. With so many people, there will always be somebody that you get along with, and maybe one or two that you don’t – but honestly that was never an issue. Chances are, in a house full of 19-25 year olds that have all chosen to do a year or semester abroad in Brisbane, you’re going to have a lot in common with most of the people. Although despite the commonalities in mindset, it was such a great way to meet people from different social, educational and cultural backgrounds.
  • You’re never alone. I’m aware that this was also a negative, but for me the benefits of this point drastically outweighed the costs. With 30 restless students it’s extremely rare that nobody will be down for a weekend away, or even just a trip to the supermarket. One quick message in the group chat and within minutes you have a fully-fledged convoy, no matter where you’re off to.
  • Being around international students, everybody is in the same boat of coping with homesickness, university stress and all the drawbacks of a year away from all that you’re used to. This means that there was the most incredible unspoken support network. Everybody just gets it.
  • With 30 people, although house events are a mess to organize (I’d compare it to herding cats) when everybody pulls together it means you can get some seriously great games of rounders underway.
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The residents at Byron Bay, NSW.

 

30 people was an incredibly fun yet a little overwhelming experience when you’ve only ever lived in 6 or 8 people flats, but I’d do it again 10 times over. I was so full of apprehension arriving in that hostel alone last July knowing that the easy choice of university halls simply wasn’t an option, but looking back I’m incredibly glad I took the matter of housing into my own hands. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but from now on I’ll always vote for the more the merrier.

 

Island retreats

By Georgi Fogarty, University of Queensland

 

Arguably the most attractive part of moving from Manchester to Australia for a year is the great weather and beautiful beaches. So after being away for a grand total of ten months, in May I finally took a weekend off work and visited the largest beachy attraction closest to Brisbane that I knew of – Stradbroke Island. To be honest, it completely amazed me that it had taken me ten months to get here in the first place seeing as it’s around 3 hours door to door and it was one of the first things that inspired me to do a year abroad in the first place; an extremely fond memory of mine is first talking to an exchange student from the University of Queensland at the Manchester Go Abroad fair all those many moons ago in October 2016, and she told me that at the weekend she’d take a break from assignments and go to her closest island to sunbathe and watch dolphins swim. Who doesn’t want that? Me, apparently – after having my sights set on this magical mystical place for so long as a large part of my motivation to get to Brisbane, it had taken me a grand total of nearly a year to get there. Regardless, it finally happened!

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Celebrating getting our act together

Getting to Stradbroke Island involved a free weekend, a bus to the centre of the city, a train to the coast and then a ferry over to the island. This is probably the same effort, distance and price as getting from Fallowfield to the Peak District, but with sun instead of sleet and koalas (cliché but true) instead of rabbits. When I initially formed an image in my mind of the second largest sand island in the world, I was drawn to images of beautiful but desolate open and untouched spaces surrounded by nothing but sea. This was all true, with the edition of a few sparsely dotted hostels, bottle shops, restaurants and a boules club. So after checking into a cosy youth hostel on the north coast, we settled in for a long, hard day of soaking up the toasty autumn sun on the beach, still going strong at 25 degrees. The hostel was a classic surfer’s hostel, with sand in every crevice and a few battered acoustic guitars that had probably seen a lifetime of being played ‘Wonderwall’ on around a campfire on the beach, which was a very handy 20 metres away.

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The long, long walk from hostel to beach.

The beach is an endless stretch of white sand bordered with palm trees and shrub on one side and an extremely blue ocean on the other, straight out of a travel brochure. The colour of the sea honestly looked artificial, but the temperature was perfect and we spent a long sunny afternoon splashing around in the surf and playing cricket on the beach. It was hell. At dusk, we headed a little further round the coast to Stradbroke’s main attraction, the north gorge walk. This is a long, wooden board walk that spans a stretch of the cliffs around the north coast, and is definitely the place to be for sun set. From our high vantage point on the cliffs, we were also given a front row seat to huge leatherback turtles, manta rays and dolphins below us which was spectacular.

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The view from the highest point of the gorge walk

The Australian nature cliché didn’t end there though as heading slightly back inland we passed a dozen kangaroos (including bonus point of a mother with a Joey in her pouch!), wild koalas and as it got slightly darker, hundreds of bats.

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Poor quality picture, high quality experience

The sunset was easily one of the best I’ve ever seen, and we headed back to the hostel with rose tinted goggles feeling drunk on the wholesomeness of the day we’d just experienced. It’s easy to forget that it is actually autumn now on this side of the hemisphere when the days are still so warm, so the 10 degree lows of the night came as a bit of a shock. We managed to overcome this fairly quickly though by hoarding blankets from our hostel and huddling together on the beach for a pretty remarkable astronomical display.

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The next day consisted of similarly wholesome activities; sunbathing, surfing (which I discovered I am terrible at) and very sadly saying goodbye to the island. However, not for long; I plan to return at least once before I leave to make up for 10 months of lost time! But for now it’s back to daydreaming about dolphins in between assignments.

Whistlestop tour of Wellington

Georgi Fogarty (University of Queensland, Australia)

After a whole month of not leaving Australia, my restless nature got the better of me and I decided to give myself a well-deserved holiday from the permanent warmth and sunshine of Brisbane. So after careful deliberation (about ten seconds of it), I booked myself onto a flight to Wellington for a few days. This was particularly exciting for me as not only was this a country I had never visited before, it was also a chance to see family members that I hadn’t seen in upwards of ten years; one of whom had graduated from the University of Manchester with a PhD back in the 1970s. So now that I was already approximately 11,600 miles closer to this branch of my family due to living in Australia, I seized the chance to visit with arms wide open. This made me particularly appreciate my choice of Brisbane for my year abroad as it dawned on me what an amazing platform Australia is to travel the Southern hemisphere, opening up opportunities that would have seemed like a distant pipedream had I still been living in England.

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Continue reading “Whistlestop tour of Wellington”

Touching down in Oz: first things first

By Georgi Fogarty (University of Queensland, Australia)

It’s obvious that when you move to the other side of the world, there are going to be some big changes. Jetlag, time differences, climatic, academic and cultural disparities had all been weighing heavily on my mind in the last few weeks approaching my 25-hour flight from Manchester to Brisbane.  But strangely, what took me by surprise the most upon landing was the amount of time it took for me to adjust to the fact I was in Australia and no longer in England.

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Brisbane city center from the Kurilpa bridge

Continue reading “Touching down in Oz: first things first”

Summer loving

It is fair to say that one of the best things about spending your year abroad in Australia is the 3 month+ long summer holiday that you are given over Christmas. It allows for lots of travelling, both within and outside of Australia, as well as lots of time for sunbathing!screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-16-05-14

Continue reading “Summer loving”

Mid Semester break on Fraser Island!

by Jude Wiggins, University of Queensland, Australia, Geography

Over the Mid-Semester break I was lucky enough to go to Fraser Island with my friends, Sophie and David. Fraser Island is the World’s Largest Sand Dune. The island is a massive collection of sand that gets dragged in by the Pacific Ocean currents and stretches about 120 km long but only about 24 kms wide. Fraser is a World Heritage site so there are no roads, only sand tracks that can be accessed by 4WD. Whilst we were on Fraser our tour guide told us that if the island did not exist, all the sand that gathers there would have traveled further North and completely covered the Great Barrier Reef, meaning that we might not know about it’s existence.

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Fray-yay Island at 6am

Continue reading “Mid Semester break on Fraser Island!”