If you are considering studying down under, here are several things I wish I had known before I moved to Australia:
Australia is Vast and Diverse: Covering over three million square miles, Australia’s size rivals that of the entire European continent. This significant size has implications for travel and transportation so is necessary to keep it in mind when planning trips & transportation.
Australia’s Varied Climate: Contrary to the assumption that Australia is always warm, there are distinct seasons. Winters can be quite cold, especially in places like Canberra where temperatures can drop significantly – when I landed in July it was -5 degrees! If you are after a warmer climate, Brisbane enjoys a tropical climate, while Melbourne is infamous for its “four seasons in one day.”
Due to its gorgeous beaches, buzzing cities, and tropical climate, Australia was my dream study-abroad destination. However, this meant traveling to the other side of the world, which can be a bit of a challenge. Here are my top tips (learning from experience) to help make the lengthy journey as peaceful and enjoyable as possible.
By Honor Cessford, Australian National University, Australia
Despite its reputation as a dull inland city, Canberra, the capital of Australia, offers an array of fun activities. Disregard the misconceptions and let me share some of my personal favourite things to do in Canberra!
By Honor Cessford, The Australian National Univeristy, Australia
I must admit, when I found out I was going to be living in Canberra for a year I was a little apprehensive due to its reputation. If you haven’t heard, Canberra is known to be a boring, lifeless city – however this is far from the truth! I am writing this as I finish my first semester at ANU, and I can say I love Canberra!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.)
The University of Manchester(UoM)
Australian National University (ANU)
Course units per semester(Full credit)
In lecture hall or theatre
Some lectures are recorded, some are not.
All of them are recorded
Weekly assignments are not marked after first year
The weekly assignments marks make up part of the final grade for many courses
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.
By Tom Collins (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).
On my first morning at Burton and Garran Hall, I’m not gonna lie, I was scared to leave my room. It was the first time I realised I was actually on the other side of the world and had no one. When I finally did leave my room, I went over to the main block and we were all divided into groups of about fifteen and were taken on a tour of the city centre, which they call ‘civic’ in the same way we’d call it ‘town’. Each group bought food and cooked together and everyone shared the food. It’s a really good idea and it was from this that I started to make friends. It was so easy in the end!
During the week there were loads of events including a drag night (knocking on a random girl’s room and asking if I could borrow a dress was something I didn’t expect to do). There was also a toga party, a murder mystery night and finally a music festival, a bit like ANU’s version of Pangea. I only knew one of the acts, but the Australians seemed to know who the others were and it was really good! Of course these nights always ended up with us going out. Canberra’s nightlife, unsurprisingly, has nothing on Manchester.
The biggest difference between O week and freshers’, however, was the amount of events that occurred in the day as opposed to just at night. There was a freshers’ fair just like in Manchester, but throughout the week there was also a trip to the local swimming pool, a water fight with another hall and lots of BBQ’S! The best thing about B & G is that you get fed during O week so there’s no need to buy your own food.
My advice would be to get involved as much as you can. No one here has any desire to be cool, and therefore everyone gets involved and judges a lot less. This all creates a really good ‘college spirit’, which is really nice to be part of as it is so different to back home. I probably met more people in my first week at B & G than I did in my whole first year in Manchester. The University of Manchester and all universities in the UK could learn a lot from the college system here at the ANU.
The following week was the first week of lectures. In this week I sat in on several different courses to get a feel for them. I went to two lectures which were at least third year subjects, and I knew straight away they were too difficult for me. I then met with the exchange advisor at ANU and finalised my choices. I ended up taking Foundations of Australian Law, Australian Public Law, Corporations Law and Succession Law. I’d definitely recommend sitting in on a few courses before committing yourself, it really is the only way you can properly understand whether they are suitable.
My first impressions were that the lectures were very similar to back home. One difference was that our timetable is not generated for us like in Manchester. You have to go onto a timetable builder and click on your courses to build it yourself. I also had to get used to using Wattle, which is the ANU’s equivalent of MyManchester. It is very similar however and was not a problem. Academic differences are something I’ll talk about more when I’m more familiar with the system.
Overall, O-week was amazing. If you are going on exchange I can say with almost certainty that you’ll make friends, so there’s nothing to worry about on that front. That’s speaking from my experience at the ANU anyway!
Get involved, or as Aussies would say, ‘get around it’!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
By Tom Collins (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).
Having to wake up at 4:30am, I can’t say I was exactly excited (I love my sleep). This morning, as always seems to be the case with flights, didn’t go according to plan. My brother lost the car keys, but luckily my sister had stayed at ours that night so she took me to the airport! Crisis averted.
The flight itself was so much better than I thought it would be. First was a seven hour flight to Abu Dhabi. I didn’t get to see much of Abu Dhabi as I just ran through the airport to get to the gate. The next flight was delayed an hour and a half. It took eleven hours and I slept for about five of those. I landed in Perth at 2:30pm to 32C, just a tad hotter than Salford.
I’d flown to Perth because I have family living there. It actually worked out a similar price flying to Perth and then getting an internal flight to Canberra as it would to fly straight to Canberra. It might be worth considering this as flights to Canberra are often more expensive than other Australian cities. For the same price, therefore, I could visit another major city in Australia on my trip.
Perth was amazing. I only had three days there (I’ll return for a few weeks at the end), in that time, however, I visited Mullaloo Beach, Yanchep Lagoon and Caversham National Park. At Caversham I saw kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and loads more Aussie animals. The last time I saw a kangaroo was when I was in Perth when I was twenty months old. That time I decided to chase the kangaroos. There are now signs up saying ‘DO NOT CHASE THE KANGAROOS’. I’d like to think these were put up because of me. The kangaroos were amazing! They were so placid and you could stroke and feed them as though they were dogs. One did decide to grab my map and start eating it and refused to let go of it, however. I’d definitely recommend Perth and I can’t wait to go back for longer.
I then had a flight to Canberra which only lasted four hours. Checking in for an internal flight is a lot less stressful than an international flight. I got to Canberra at about 11pm, and when I got to my accommodation there was pretty much nobody around. I’m staying at Burton and Garran Hall, which is the cheapest (I think) at $405 a fortnight. This works out to just over £100 a week. I was shown to my room and I skyped my family.
Next time I’ll tell you about O-week (their equivalent of Freshers) and my first few weeks of lectures when reality actually starts to bite. I also plan to blog about academic and social differences between Australia and the UK and any trips I make around Australia.
By Tom Collins (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)
I finished my Semester 1 exams in Manchester exactly 2 weeks before I flew to Australia. Do not underestimate how much there is to do in this time. I had already sorted out my visa, insurance, flights, and accommodation long before this stage. You feel like you are planning for the trip forever! You’ll need a Student Non-Award (Subclass 575) Visa. It came through really quickly (literally within half an hour mine was granted), but you will need to pay ($540). You also need Overseas Health Cover (OSHC). Shop around for this, mine cost $192 for 6 months cover.
The obvious task which needs to be done is packing. I flew with Etihad so was allowed 30kg and hang luggage, which is really good. If you don’t have this much allowance just think about what you really will need, you can always buy stuff over there. Apparently a good way to pack is to get out everything you think you’ll need, and then half it. I didn’t do this and decided instead to take everything and was willing to wear 18 layers of clothes to the airport if needs be in order to avoid baggage charges.
Don’t forget to get money before you go! I’m going to set up a bank account when I get over there so needed some Aussie dollars to help me get by whilst I set up my Australian account. I left this to the last minute and I got the money the day before I flew. You might have to order the money which might take a few days.
Suncream (I’ve heard horror stories of Brits wanting a tan in Australia almost getting 3rd degree burns. Apparently the sun is hot.)
Universal plug adapter
Tea bags (the most important)
Study abroad handbook (I honestly haven’t been paid to say this; it might come in very handy!)
Hopefully my next blog will be about the flight and arriving in Australia. If not, I’ve missed my flight.