By Serena Graham (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia).
After all the waiting and anticipation I’m finally in Australia! I probably should have written this sooner but I’ve been so busy since I’ve been here, so here’s a recap of everything that’s happened so far.
My journey here consisted of 3 parts: Birmingham to Dubai, Dubai to Singapore, and Singapore to Brisbane. In total it took over 24 hours to get here and I am thankful that I won’t have to do this journey again for a whole year! It was very tiring and since I was travelling alone it seemed to last days. Luckily, the in-flight entertainment was pretty good so I was able to watch a few films to distract myself from the turbulence. For anyone who’s planning to visit Dubai airport: it is massive! I spent about 2 hours circling round the airport trying to find my departure gate, only to find out I actually had to get a train to the other side of the airport! On the last plane of my journey I happened to be sat next to two other exchange students so I made some friends before even arriving.
When I finally got to Brisbane airport, I had to wait another couple of hours because there was not enough room in the transfer bus for everyone to fit in. Luckily my mum had paid for me to stay in a hotel for my first two nights here so I had the chance to catch up on all the sleep I had missed. I then moved into a YHA hostel which was where a few other students from Manchester were staying. As far as hostels go it was pretty good – very clean, safe and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. They even had a pool, although it was far too cold to use. I was sharing a room with 3 other girls, so it was quite hard to get some sleep (I’m pretty sure one of them was sleepwalking in the middle of the night!).
After meeting up with other UoM students, we went house hunting together. We loved the first house we viewed and moved in a couple days later. Unfortunately we had somehow failed to notice the various holes in the ceilings/walls and didn’t even acknowledge the fact that there was no oven! The house is in an ideal location, it’s a student area just minutes away from Indooroopilly shopping centre (I’m still unsure how to pronounce it- many of the towns in Brisbane originate from Australian Aboriginal language e.g. Toowong, Woolloongabba, Mount Coot-tha).
Once we had settled into our house, we decided to go to the Koala Sanctuary which isn’t far from where we live. I would definitely recommend going there; it had a wide range of animals, from lizards and snakes to wombats and kangaroos. I got to cuddle a koala and managed to get a selfie with a kangaroo!
We also visited Southbank, which is a beautiful place by the river, within walking distance from the city centre. There are various food and clothes markets there at weekends and a great little man-made beach.
Some advice for anyone planning to visit Australia: you will probably be warned about the ‘drop bears’. They look similar to koalas but are extremely dangerous and tend to attack by dropping down onto their victim from trees, targeting foreigners in particular. Don’t be as gullible as I was – they are completely fictitious and this is a common prank Australians play on tourists to scare them!