6. Brekkie and Breakfast

By Jellaby Lai (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

“Where is the sun?”, I screamed inside my head whenwalking out of the plane at Manchester airport. It took me a few minutes before accepting the fact that I was back in Manchester, the driest place on earth. Having lived in few different places, spending a few months in a new country is not new to me. However, each time I was shocked to see how my body and mind unconsciously adapted to the environment without noticing. Since Australia and the UK share the same language and Australian culture has largely been influenced by British settlers arriving in 1788, this hugely minimised the degree of culture shock I experienced. Personally, I wouldn’t say I have suffered from any culture shock, but it took me a while to respond to ‘Good day’ (Australian way of saying hello) naturally and get used to the Aussie accent. On my return to Manchester, I continued using words like ‘heaps’ (a lot) and ‘brekkie’ (breakfast) until having received a fair amount of odd looks.

Compared to Canberra, Manchester is more dynamic. I love them both. I missed the natural beauty of Canberra, Lake Burley Griffin by the side of my campus, the Black Mountain at the back of my hall and its climate. I like the excitement and convenience Manchester has to offer. I was surrounded by people in Canberra most of the time and I have a more independent life in Manchester. I took a few weeks to get used to the quietness in my flat.

Spending time in another prestigious university has given me motivation to work harder and inspired me to try out new things. I have become a more flexible and adaptable person than ever. I have learnt to see and think in different perspective, to challenge my comfort zone and to stay calm in unexpected situations.

This is my final blog about my study abroad experience in Australia. I very much appreciate this opportunity offered by the University and the International Programmes Office. I absolutely understand studying abroad may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of doing it. The preparation and application process maybe long and time-consuming, but it definitely worth it!

5. Reflection on my time at Australian National University (ANU)

By Jellaby Lai (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

Ummm, I have no idea where to start. It has been a crazy, joyful and adventurous six months. So much has been learnt and so many bonds have been made.

From the moment I landed in this wonderful, sunny land to the time I had to start packing and say farewell to my friends and the animals (spiders not included) around my hall, not even one second did I halt and think. Now, sitting in front of my laptop (equivalent to a smartwatch in this generation), memories start to sink in and I can’t help but giggle. Reflecting on my study abroad journey helps me think critically about what I have done and why, and learn self-evaluation.

Academic:

I studied abroad in the second semester of my second year. Because of the complexity of course matching, I had to take two second year and two third year courses at ANU. The third year courses were demanding and I had underestimated them at the start of semester. I would have put more time in studying to prevent pulling endless all-nighters. It is important to experience life as much as possible. But in the end,  a good work-life balance will lead to success.

Non-academic:

I was fortunate to be allocated in one of the most inclusive, welcoming and fun halls on campus. Sharing a big kitchen with other four hundred something residents gave me opportunities to social with so many different people. We spent day and night in there, laughing and cooking together. There were all kind of activities organised by the hall committee. I had tried out new sports and went to basketball training (no fear being the shortest player in the team). Everyone was very supportive and I had acquired some new skills and explored a different side of myself. More importantly, I have made some life-long friends.

I would definitely study abroad again if there is a chance!

4. End of Semester Trip

By Jellaby Lai (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

Together with another five exchange students, we went camping along the Great Ocean Road and the outback. Looking at the photos, I can’t help but  start planning my next camping trip!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Great Ocean Road

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our camper van (car)

Great Ocean Road and Outback

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Koala spotting
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Great Ocean Road. Heaven is opening.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Big John, our camper van
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
West MacDonnell Range
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Manchester ‘On the road’
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
West MacDonnell Range
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
West Macdonnell Range
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Campsite. About to start a fire

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Academic Difference (ANU vs. UoM)

By Jellaby Lai (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

Studying abroad is all about LEARNING: new culture, new knowledge, new skills, new people and new stories. Today let’s talk about the academic differences between Australian National University in Canberra and The University of Manchester. Talking from experience, I found it extremely helpful to know the differences before starting my semester abroad. (For those who haven’t read my introduction, I did Actuarial Science and Mathematics so the differences I am about to talk about may vary from other courses.)

Academic Differences The University of Manchester(UoM) Australian National University (ANU)
Course units per semester(Full credit) 6 4
Lecture style In lecture hall or theatre Same
Lecture Recording Some lectures are recorded, some are not. All of them are recorded
Assignment Weekly assignments are not marked after first year The weekly assignments marks make up part of the final grade for many courses
Tutorial Weekly tutorial Same
Exam 2 hours exam 3 hours exam(One of the Statistics exam I had is an open book exam which I have never had in UoM)

Personally I am not a big fan of 3-hour exam, it is very draining and one of the papers I did was worth 180 marks. The pressure was no joke. However it has turned me into a much more flexible and adaptable learner. It is vital that you know the assessment method of your chosen modules. Figure out what learning style best suits you and pick the modules with your preferred assessment method. Like The University of Manchester, Australian National University offers a wide variety of different units and the learning environment and facilities at ANU are excellent.

My time abroad so far!

By Grace Griffiths (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

So as well as my video blog (which is my main blog so check that out if you haven’t!) I just wanted to write a little something something – mainly because it gives me a further reason to procrastinate from work, but also because I forgot to mention some stuff in the video.

Firstly, the name of the tour guide to the Blue Mountains was Rod. He was great – your stereotypical outgoing, sarcastic, says-it-as-it-is Ozzie. I’ve noticed that a lot since being here.  Australians keep it real, their humour tends to be quite honest and deadpan and I love it. Also, apologies for being the worst Drama student in the world because I completely forgot to mention the Sydney Opera House! Even if you don’t like that kind of thing, the Opera House is extremely impressive! Louby and I got up early one morning in a rare spout of motivation to see dawn, and were lucky enough to see the sun rise over it which was insane – the picture doesn’t even do it justice.

Blue Mountains, NSW
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Sun Rise over Opera House, Sydney
Sun Rise over Opera House, Sydney

Secondly, just to clarify the housing situation, I ended up finding somewhere with three other students, so it’s not impossible to get a decent place off-campus, but I stand by what I said about it making settling in harder. I’d highly recommend applying to halls if you are going on exchange to ANU next year. There are benefits of living off-campus as well, of course: it’s probably slightly nicer than halls, usually cheaper, and a by-product of house hunting was that I got to see areas of Canberra that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It made me realise how nice Canberra is. The streets look very suburban, they look like they could’ve been modelled on Desperate Housewives.  It’s the weirdest capital though.  It was designed because the officials couldn’t agree on whether to make Sydney the capital, or Melbourne, so they decided to create somewhere half-way between the two.  As a result everything in Canberra was designed with a purpose in mind, which has resulted in some really cool architecture.  However, it is as if they designed it with the intent of filling it with far more people than are actually here – everything is huge and spaced out as you would imagine them to be in the capital city, but it’s really quiet and empty.  Which is why it’s criticised by lots of Australians – even people who are from here! It’s known as a cold and boring place, but this is definitely not the case if you are a student who’s used to English weather! It’s quite funny though, you soon get used to people’s reaction to you telling them that you’re studying in Canberra to be: “Unlucky mate”.  It is true that compared to somewhere like Sydney or Melbourne, there’s not as much to do, and if I were to move somewhere permanently, I think I’d prefer a bigger city, but as a student there’s always plenty going on, and locationwise it’s pretty ideal – only a short bus ride (in terms of Australian geography) from Sydney and the east coast.

Views from Mount Ainslie, Canberra
Views from Mount Ainslie, Canberra
ANU campus
ANU campus

Thirdly, I mentioned the Purple Haze Party that was at the end of O-week. It was there that I discovered SAFIA. They’re a trio from Canberra who describe themselves as electro-indie, and I now listen to them loads. They’re great if you’re into that kind of thing so check them out!

Fourthly, I completely forgot to mention the towns in New Zealand, especially Queenstown. So as well as all the crazy beautiful sights that were so nice they didn’t seem real, (this is something I get a lot on this side of the world. I’ll see something and won’t believe it’s actually there – I’ll feel like I’m looking at a picture online. I got it a lot in Sydney as well. I guess that’s a result of being a 21st century kid!) the towns in New Zealand were awesome!

Breathtaking views in Queenstown
Breathtaking views in Queenstown
Glaciers in New Zealand
Glaciers in New Zealand
Glaciers reflection, New Zealand
Glaciers reflection, New Zealand

A lot of them were really quirky and edgy… kind of like the Northern Quarter in Manchester. They had a really chilled out feel, and there was some really good artwork and a lot of live music.

Street Art in Greymouth, New Zealand
Street Art in Greymouth, New Zealand
Street Art in Christchurch
Street Art in Christchurch

One of the towns was famous for all its art deco, and there was another town called Bull that was filled with really bad puns.  The kind of jokes dads make. I loved it! A shop described its food as ‘unbeliev-a-bull’, the police station had a sign saying ‘Const-a-bull’ and there were pictures of bulls dressed in cop outfits, the bin was shaped like a carton of milk and had a sign saying ‘Response-a-bull’, the toilets were listed as ‘Relieve-a-bull’.  It was everywhere, and it was brilliant.

The rubbish bin in the funny punny town.
The rubbish bin in the funny punny town.

There’s actually so much more I can say about New Zealand – we definitely packed it in. We did caving in the North Island, where we saw glow worms, and we also went to Hobbiton where The Lord of the Rings was set.

Hobbiton, New Zealand
Hobbiton, New Zealand
Caving with glow worms!
Caving with glow worms!
Lugeing in Queenstown
Lugeing in Queenstown

We also stayed the night in a Mauri village.  The Mauri people are the indigenous people of New Zealand, and they invited us to their village and put on a cultural show and experience for us.  It was really interesting. The Mauri tradition involves a lot of music, art work, tribal dance and warriorhood. We had to select someone from our bus as ‘chief’ to represent our tribe, and they performed an initiation ceremony to make sure we were not a threat, and to welcome us to their village.

Mauri Village Experience
Mauri Village Experience

So to wrap up, I’m having an amazing time, meeting some amazing people and being introduced to some amazing things. I’m very happy that I chose to study abroad, and I’m really looking forward to what’s still to come!  I’m going to try and blog more often but sometimes life just gets in the way… you know how it is!

Pre-departure Blog

By Grace Griffiths (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

I want to go back in time and give past Grace a tap on the back for deciding to apply to study abroad.  Recently, motivating myself to work has felt like wading through mud whilst carrying a panda bear.  I don’t know why a panda bear – it was the first heavy thing that sprung to mind.  I may be alone with the analogy but I know I’m not alone with the feeling – exam season can be a bit soul destroying for all of us.  You can imagine then, how nice it is and how lucky I feel that as soon as I’ve cleared this hurdle there’s a sunny and exciting adventure ahead!  People keep on asking me if I’m scared, and I know that in theory I should be, but at the moment my departure date can’t come soon enough! I don’t think the reality of it has sunk in yet.  Although rationally I know that Australia is really far, and that I’m there for a really long time, there’s something in my mind that just isn’t quite grasping the concept.  At the moment it’s just the next thing to do on my mental checklist. First, pass exams. Second, go to Australia. Third, understand that I’m there.

I’m leaving on 26th January which is exactly a week’s time. A week!! That’s insane.  I think that’s another reason why it hasn’t sunk in yet – it still feels like ‘that cool thing’ that I’m doing next semester. But life has a habit of fast forwarding without you realising it, and next semester is in fact in one week.  Actually I tell a lie, second semester in Manchester starts in a week. At ANU it doesn’t start until 16th February.  This opens up a nice little three week window to do some travelling, so my friend Louby and I have decided to take a week of this and spend it in Sydney! Louby is also at Manchester University – she does Linguistics and is studying in Melbourne next semester.

In terms of organising the trip, we’ve had a few blunders.  We both left our visa applications quite late and didn’t want to book any flights or hostels or anything else until they had been confirmed.  When it got to 8th January and I still hadn’t heard anything I began to panic. So I called up the visa office in Australia and, after spending an hour in a phone queue which cost me £7.20 trying to find out why my visa hadn’t been granted yet, I discover they’d sent my mum an email of confirmation two days after I applied. Whoops, wasn’t expecting that! I thought I’d put my mum as an emergency contact, not sole contact! We had originally intended to get to Australia before the 26th January because that’s Australia Day and we wanted to join in the celebrations, but by the time the visa fiasco had been sorted the flights had rocketed up in price, and we decided to postpone.

Packing is another process that is slightly daunting.  I’ve got to pack everything I need for six months at Uni into one bag weighing less than 30kg.  This sounds completely feasible, but if I think about how full the car was when mum dropped me off in Manchester for first semester, I’m going to have to significantly cut down! Not to mention that I haven’t even started packing, and I don’t return home from Manchester until two days before I leave. This is entirely my own fault of course, but rushed packing doesn’t bode well for remembering everything I need. My frazzled brain is bound to forget something!

Anyway, I have procrastinated enough from doing real work for the time being. I will post another blog once I am there. For now – back to revision, drinking coffee and saying my goodbyes!

Easter Adventure on The Great Ocean Road

By William Kelly (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

The Easter holidays began and I was very fortunate to be invited on a road trip down along the Great Ocean Road. For those who do not know this, this 243 km of road along the south eastern coast of Australia between the cites of Melbourne and Adelaide. Our plan was to start from Melbourne and to drive down the coast till we got to Warrnambool. Then head back to Melbourne for some sight seeing and a night out.

Unfortunately, the drive from Canberra to Melbourne is eight hours! I complain about driving from Manchester to London, but that is a laugh in comparison! We stopped by Glenrowan and only when I got there did I realise that this was Ned Kelly’s (Robin Hood equivalent) famous last stand. What I found funny during my time in Australia was how many people claimed to be related to Ned Kelly. With my surname, I am probably more likely than most of them!

Ned Kelly
Ned Kelly in Glenrowan

Once we got to Melbourne, we decided to head into town. Having previously visited Melbourne before I arrived in Canberra, I took my friends to the river where there was a bar right in the middle. I can only envy now, as I sit in a cold room in Manchester, how lovely it was to sit out in the sun in the middle of the river and to have a beer. We then headed over to China Town. One thing I found in Australia was that they all love dumplings, and I could taste why!

A bridge with a bar ahem I mean view.
A bridge with a bar, ahem, I mean view.

The next day we woke up early and started down the Great Ocean road. Having eaten some delicious fish and chips in Anglesea, we drove down the road taking in breathtaking views. It was simply lovely, cruising along the edge of the coast. Once we reached our campsite, we were concerned about how dark it was getting and so we set to work putting up the tents. With great difficulty (I in particular am hopeless), we were able to complete this feat. We then created a fire, played cards and had a few drinks. I think my friends I was travelling with thought I was deranged because I kept leaving and walking to the beach, but it was possibly one of the most beautiful sights I have seen. It was a full moon and I had never seen it so big before. The waves glimmered in the light and I could not get enough of the sight.

The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road

It’s very hard for me to sit here and to describe each sight I saw because the whole coastline was absolutely stunning. One exciting thing I did, however, was when we reached the Twelve Apostles. I saw they did helicopter rides, but I was concerned about my budgeting. Then I thought, you know what, I am here and I am going to make the most of this spectacular view! So up I went. I may, perhaps, be a huge celebrity in India now because I went up with apparently a famous Indian comedian who was helping out in a tourist video. Nevertheless, just take a look at this picture of the most amazing view I had!

12 Apostles
The Twelve Apostles
The View!
The View!

After our trip, we headed back to Melbourne to do some sightseeing and of course, to get another taste of China Town. We actually went to see an exhibition on Dreamworks Animation, and how they made all the films such as Shrek and How To Train Your Pet Dragon. I incredibly managed to bump into someone I knew from school. We then went out for our final night and I managed to get lost. However, I bumped into two very nice Melbourne lads and it was such a laugh to spend the night exploring the Melbourne night life. What I did not appreciate was the eight hour drive straight back to Canberra. Eugh, my head hurt.