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!

Amanda Blog 7: Exploring the capital of Australia

By Amanda Chan (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).

Do you know what the capital of Australia is? When I told my friends that I am going to the capital of Australia, the common respond I got was either “is it Sydney?” or “is it Melbourne?”. It is Canberra! Canberra was built to be the capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia. After spending time at ANU which is situated in Canberra, I have decided to explore the place and spread the words, so more people will get to know Canberra and the fact that it is the capital of Australia.

As a celebration of the 100th birthday of Canberra, the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government provided the Centenary Loop bus which operates every weekend for free to some of Canberra’s national icons and attractions.

The first stop after getting on the bus at the city centre is Australian War Memorial. To pay respect to the war hero, the old and new parliament house are both directly facing the War Memorial. So at the entrance of the memorial, you could get a good view of the parliament houses.

the view from war memorial


After building the new parliament house in 1988, the old parliament house was turned into a Museum of Australian Democracy. Both of them are open for public access.

Old parliament house
New parliament house

At the National Film and Sound Archive, other than portraying the history of Australian film and sound industry, there was also an exhibit showcasing the names that were considered to be the capital of Australia, ‘Sydmeladperho ‘ was one of them, probably representing Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Suggested names for Australia’s capital


Other stops include National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, National Archives of Australia and National Museum of Australia.

National Gallery of Australia

Besides the loop bus, another way to explore Canberra is to cycle or walk around the Lake Burley Griffin. While doing so, you might hear music coming from the National Carillon, from time to time. The Carillon, a musical instrument comprising 53 bronze bells, was a gift from the British Government for 50th anniversary of Canberra.


Along the lake, you would also find series of plinths marking the Australians of the Year. The plinths were not placed randomly, they were placed on five metal strips, in musical note position to the score of Australia’s national anthem.


Canberra has two main mountains, namely Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain. You could enjoy a brilliant view of Canberra on both mountains. The Telstra tower is situated on Black Mountain which will give you a height advantage.

View from Mount Ainslie
View from Black Mountain
view from Telstra Tower


Under the Black Mountain is the Australian National Botanic Garden. Just like any other Botanic gardens, you could expect a large variety of plants and leisure walking paths. There is also a Eucalyptus Rainforest.

DSC_1277(1) DSC_1268(1)

Last but not least, there is the Cockington Green Gardens where you can see the miniatures. There is a model village based on British architectures and model of some of the most famous international attractions.