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.

 

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”

Safely Arrived in Brisbane!

By Jude Wiggins, Geography, University of Queensland, Australia.

This weekend marked the 3 month anniversary of my arrival in Brisbane and I have no idea where the time has gone! (Also, sorry for the late post!) The first few weeks I was here I stayed in a hostel so that I could view houses, find somewhere to live and also sort out things like an Australian bank account and phone number. Staying in the hostel was really fun as there was always someone new to meet but it was relieving to find my own house and get properly settled into Brisbane. I managed to find a beautiful house with an amazing view of the city from the balcony- you would not get that in Fallowfield! I’m living in a share house with two Brits, two Chileans and one Australian. I did look into staying in University accommodation but it was quite expensive. Irregardless though I’m happy with my house and location.

View of Brisbane on water
View of Brisbane from the water

Continue reading “Safely Arrived in Brisbane!”

Semester 2 at UQ

By Serena Graham (The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

By the start of semester 2, I was feeling much less of a tourist, and Brisbane felt more like home to me. I went into this semester feeling a lot more relaxed now that I already knew my way around, and it was a lot less scary than the start of semester 1. Time had flown so fast, I couldn’t believe that I only had four months left, so I tried to make the most of my remaining time down under. I scheduled my classes so that I was only in uni three days a week, which meant I could regularly go on trips for long weekends!

The first trip I went on was to Moreton Island. Although I had already been last semester I felt like I needed to go again since it was so much fun. We went with Quest (the International Society at UQ) and spent this weekend snorkelling round the shipwrecks, sandboarding, and visited the lakes.

My next adventure was my east coast trip! This is a must-do trip while you’re in Oz. We started by flying up to Townsville and then visited Magnetic Island for the day. Here they have wild wallabies all around the coast which are very friendly if you bring them food. Our next stop was Airlie Beach, which is a very popular place for backpackers and so there’s a lot more to do there. We took a kayaking trip from Airlie Beach and went around some of the Whitsunday Islands, where we also had the chance to snorkel on the amazing reefs. Then we took an overnight coach to Noosa, which is on the Sunshine Coast. Here I finally took some surfing lessons, and after about two hours of constantly falling off my surfboard, I finally caught a wave and managed to stand up! Noosa is also great for its walking trails and the views are spectacular. After Noosa we took a train back to Brissy, and after nearly two weeks of travelling hostel to hostel I was happy to see my bed again.

Regarding university, semester 2 was pretty similar to semester 1. I tried my best to choose modules that didn’t have clashing coursework deadlines, since I knew I was going to do a lot of travelling this semester. UQ is very similar to university in Manchester in the way that coursework and exams are carried out and marked. Each module has a tutorial group which is usually discussion-based, and all lectures are recorded and put on Blackboard.

Here are some photos of Moreton Island and my East Coast trip:

ect1 Kayaking around the Whitsundays  moreton 2 Moreton Island moreton Sandboarding – more scary than it looks!

magnetic island Baby wallaby (Magnetic island)

noosa Noosa Beach (Sunshine Coast)

🙂

 

Saying Goodbye to Manchester and Wales

By Jude Wiggins, Geography, University of Queensland, Australia

Even though my flight is tomorrow morning, it still doesn’t feel like I’m going to live in Australia for a year. Despite all the goodbyes, my booked flight, and my (overweight) packed suitcase I still can’t accept that I’m really leaving! I’m due to fly from Manchester to Abu Dhabi, and then onto Brisbane from there. In total it should take me just over twenty-four hours. For the first week I’m in Brisbane I’ll be staying in a hostel, just until I get onto Australian time and can find somewhere to live!

Continue reading “Saying Goodbye to Manchester and Wales”

Summer Holidays Down Under

By Serena Graham (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

P.S. … This blog post is about my summer holidays in Oz (December 2014 – March 2015). I’ve been extremely busy in the past couple of months so I haven’t had the chance to upload it until now!

As the semesters in Australia start in March and July, I’ve had to do semester 2 first and then semester 1, which means I had a three month gap in between semesters. During this time, it was really hot and at times got to around 40 degrees. I seriously regretted choosing a house without air conditioning!

Over the holidays I did a bit of travelling. My parents visited me in Australia and we travelled up to Port Douglas, which is a really cute little town not far from Cairns. Port Douglas has lots of little shops, restaurants and bars that are all really nice and is also close to the Great Barrier Reef. So on Christmas day we decided to go on a snorkelling trip on the Reef, and got to see some turtles and an incredible variety of fish (a few people on the trip were lucky enough to see a couple of sharks). In Port Douglas there is also a wildlife sanctuary where you can see some kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and parrots. Unfortunately, during the summer months on the east coast of Australia it’s jellyfish season so you have to swim within the jellyfish nets and even then some jellyfish can slip through so you need to be careful (or wear a wetsuit). After spending about a week in Port Douglas we returned back to Brisbane and I spent a few days showing my parents around the city. As this was around Christmas time, there were various events on in the city centre such as parades, live music and shows.

After my parents left Australia I decided I needed to get a part-time job if I wanted to continue travelling. After over two months job-hunting I was finally able to get a weekend job in a Chinese restaurant in a nearby suburb. This job kept me busy for the rest of the holidays, and thanks to the generous minimum wage in Australia, I was able to book a few more trips over semester 2 – I’ll talk about these in my next blog!

Here are some pics I took over the summer holidays:

Port Douglas

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My first semester at UQ

By Serena Graham (The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

I wrote this blog just before Christmas but totally forgot to post it – sorry it’s late!

So it’s the end of my first semester here at UQ and it’s been amazing. Time has flown so fast I can’t believe I’m nearly half way through my year here. It’s summer now in Australia and temperatures have reached up to 40 degrees, which was quite unbearable. I’ve had such a busy few months, and have been lucky enough not to experience homesickness (thanks to Skype it’s so easy to get in touch with everyone back home!).

So here’s an update of everything I’ve done so far this semester:

QUEST trips: The International Society at UQ, QUEST is a great way to meet other exchange students, as well as local Aussies. They organise events, nights out, weekly pub visits and weekend trips away. In August, we went to Byron Bay, which is just a short coach ride away from Brisbane. It’s a beautiful place, but we were a bit unlucky with the weather as it pretty much rained the whole weekend. It’s a good place for surfing (but since it was winter here, the sea was just too cold for me!). Despite that, we managed to have a great time and went on a couple of nights out with our fellow Questies. The next trip we went on was to Morten Island, a beautiful sand island (third largest in the world) just off the coast of Brisbane. Here we went snorkelling around a shipwreck, and got to feed some fish. We also saw dolphins! The next day we went sandboarding which was a lot of fun.

Mid-semester break: We had a week off so me and 2 of my housemates decided we would take a trip to Sydney. It’s a much bigger and more touristy city than Brisbane and there’s loads to do there. In the first day we visited the opera house, Darling Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Tower Eye. Later in the week we went to see the Blue Mountains and the views were spectacular.

At the end of the semester when our exams were over, me and my housemates decided to go travelling around New Zealand. We visited Queenstown, which is in the south island of New Zealand and has some of the most breath-taking views I have ever seen. We only stayed for three nights, but managed to see some kiwis, go stargazing, and take a tour of Milford Sound. From Queenstown we then flew to the north island to visit Auckland. We then did a coach trip to Matamata, to see Hobbiton (the movie set of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit). After New Zealand we flew straight to Fiji where we stayed on a small resort on Malolo Island for about a week. Despite having rain and storms almost every day, we managed to top up our tans and mostly just relaxed by the pool.

Next semester doesn’t start until March so I have some time to kill! My plan is to (hopefully) get a summer job so that I can save up for doing an east coast trip to visit Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday islands. I’ll keep you updated!

 

Fiji
Fiji
Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand
Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand
Opera House
Opera House
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Australia 2014

By Kate Bowmar (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

So, for one of my final blog posts I have made a video that summarizes what studying abroad in Australia and at the University of Queensland is like. Most of these pictures and videos were taken on field trips with the University and on five-week trip of the east coast.

I hope that this is helpful for anybody wondering about whether to go to UQ/Australia or not, and to anybody who is doubtful, please go! You will have the best time of your life!

Kate Bowmar

Arriving in Brisbane – Hostels, Exploring and Housing!

By Kate Bowmar (The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia).

So a week ago today, I was boarding my first solo flight from Heathrow to Brisbane, Australia. Therefore, in my first blog post I’m going to talk about my experiences and what I have been doing over this last week!

Leading up to my departure I tried to keep myself very busy – I was lucky enough to be at Wireless festival the weekend before leaving for Australia, which was the perfect way to finish my time in England (until Christmas) and say a tearful goodbye to all my friends and family. My main worry about my time in Australia is being homesick and missing my family too much, which I’m sure everyone can relate to.

I was expecting a grueling 24-hour flight from London to Brisbane – and it actually wasn’t that bad! This was mainly due to the fact that on my longest flight (from London to Kuala Lumpar) the plane was VERY empty and I had a whole row to myself. The in-flight entertainment system managed to keep me mildly entertained, and most of the time I ended up sleeping.

Upon arrival at the airport I was greeted by The University of Queensland’s free airport pick-up service, which included a very welcoming bus driver and a coachload of students, in which I managed to meet some other British girls studying at another university in Brisbane. The coach service dropped me off at the hostel where I met a fellow Biology student at UoM. The hostel was just outside of the city and therefore the perfect location to be in the first few days off my time in Australia.

A view of Brisbane from the rooftop of my hostel.
A view of Brisbane from the rooftop of my hostel.

The first few days in Brisbane consisted of sorting out an Australian bank account, an Australian phone card and trying to find a house! However, I have managed to have a good explore around the city including the main attraction – South Bank Beach.

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Emma (UoM student) and I at South Bank Beach!

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South Bank Beach is the city of Brisbane’s main tourist attraction. It is literally a beach right in the middle of the city, complete with lifeguards and BBQ’s!

After the first few days of exploring and letting jet lag pass, I started to think about how I would go about trying to find a house for the remainder of my time in Brisbane.  After one week of being in Australia I am finally writing this blog from the comfort of my new room in my amazing house, however, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to get here. I knew before I came to Brisbane that I wanted to live in a large student houseshare, but compared to Manchester these kind of houses are rare. Most Australian students tend to stay at home for the duration of university and a lot of international students tend to live in small houses of 5 people or less, so initially things weren’t looking too great.

Myself and a few other girls spent a few days going to estate agents and viewing houses (some of which weren’t great) and finally found a modern 7 bedroom shared house in a perfect location. My new home is just 5 minutes walk away from a massive shopping center, 10 minutes on the bus to uni, and 10 minutes on the bus to the city. Its safe to say that I am thrilled with my new house and I’m extremely excited to meet all my new neighbours!

In the next few weeks I will be visiting Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (to cuddle a koala!), starting university orientation and lectures and generally settling into life in Australia.

 

Surfers’ & Straddie

By Karl Vikat (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia).

Lightly sparse news on the blog lately, times have been really busy, but I have been able to collect some notes and reminisce about the last month in the process, so that hopefully you’ll get a good feeling of what’s been going on.

The first weeks were loaded with socializing and meeting a great number of fellow exchange students and local Aussies. I spent the Sochi ice-hockey finals surrounded by a sea of red, joyous Canadians, celebrating a double threepeat with their women and men both winning gold to a tune of ‘O Canada’.

On the second weekend I finally got a look outside the city into close by Gold Coast, Surfer’s Paradise; WP_20140223_001Essentially the surfer’s hub, with a sand strip as far as the eye can see, reaching all the way to neighbouring Gold Coast (the city) and beyond. At Surfers’, we spent the day on the beach, rejoicing from the warm ocean waters and the surf breaking along the coastline.

 

In the afternoon, shortly before we were leaving, a triple rainbow over the Pacific Ocean emerged for a minute. WP_20140223_003Although imprinted in our memories, none of us had a lense wide enough to capture the mystical triad. Also, the cloud cover by then couldn’t do much to prevent the foreseeable consequence of not applying my sunscreen generously enough – yes, clearly I do understand now why Australians are so serious about it. In terms of our return; it is a quite convenient feature of trips into the well-connected area around Brisbane, that once you have done your daily bus trips to uni during the week, trips on the weekend are free.

In ‘O-week’ I had to sit through the standard introductory talks, however, since it’s Australia, they we’re spiced up with references to seriously deadly minuscule beings – spiders, jellyfish, frogs, snakes. Good to know that there is a jellyfish, the size of the thumbnail, whose sting will cause you two weeks of intense pain, that all the morphine in the world can’t soothe. Of course, we were also made aware of the red-yellow flag rule. Taking into account the considerable force the pull of the waves exert that I got to experience first-hand in Surfer’s Paradise, one might want to refrain from swimming out into the ocean with no lifeguard in sight. WP_20140228_021After all, these are some of the sweetest spots to work in that profession, so the competition should guarantee that your life is in good hands, as long as you mind the flags.

The week after, I headed out to North Stradbrooke Island, the second largest sand island in the world, located in Moreton Bay. Just a couple hours from Brisbane, we took the ferry over the bay to ‘Straddie’ and found ourselves a misty and humid sight, with the intense green of the rainforest shining over the island in a light drizzle. Its location off the coast and open to the winds of the ocean gives it a distinct climate, its refreshing morning coolness being particularly appreciated coming from still scorching Brisbane.

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Whereas on arrival, Friday, we had to recharge our batteries by spending some time strolling and relaxing on the beach, recovering from the week behind us, the weekend was filled with veritable marches across the island.

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Still, on Friday evening we headed out to Point Lookout, the northern tip of the island, where water has been lashing against rocks for millennia, carving out gorges and a coastline of smooth rocks.

 

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In the surrounding forest, I first got to see kangaroos – we had previously mocked the seemingly misleading brochures at the hostel, picturing kangaroos and koalas, doubting we would see any on the island.  WP_20140228_050

Considering that if they have not been brought over here by humans, these families must have had innumerable ancestors living off the same land here for eons. It was great seeing them grazing, hopping and even boxing (!) in the wild, before encountering their lazy counterparts in the zoo.

On Saturday, we made our way up sandy hills and parts of forest that were draped in the black of charcoal due to bushfires that had ravaged the island in January, to a rather peculiar lake. Bummeira, or Brown Lake, is a freshwater lake whose water sports a particularly smooth quality and brown colour. Surrounded by tea trees, their leaves sicker through on to the ground, and paint the water a distinct bronze.

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After a swim and an invigorating meal of our weekend staple, roasted bread, and luxurious barbeque chicken we decided to call it a day and make our way back to finish the day off at the beach. We saved about 2h30 of what would have been a strenuous return journey, had it not been for a helpful local, himself still jetlagged from a recent journey to the Czech Republic, giving us a lift to the city alongside his crossbreed whelp. The following morning, when hiking to Amity Point, the first (and originally failed) European settlement on the island on Sunday, we had less luck than previously with fauna sighting and came across a dead koala on our path, who, it seemed, had just recently held on to the wrong branch and suffered a fatal fall. His relative, well and alive, dubbed Stevie by a fellow hiker-group who had also set out from our hostel and spotted him, unfortunately remained out of our sight in the treetops.

Back on the mainland, the usual weekend breakdown of train services struck us, yet, for those of you who might plan to head to Brissy yourself, you should know that this isn’t a problem. The price is the highest per-capita carbon footprint in the world, but you get an express service taking about one third of the time you would spend in the train, by a good-spirited bus driver and in good company.

So, that’s the travel so far, in the next post you’re going to get the full academic update.

 

Oz Diaries 8: The Cold Return

By Olivia Dove (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia).

And so, as was inevitable, I find myself back in good ol’ Manchester.

Sadly, this will be the last blog I write here and I would like to spend it giving you all a brief summary of certain aspects that I’ve had to cope with post-Australia.

The weather

This is a big issue for me. Whilst Manchester looks beautiful when sunny, it is fair to say that England on the whole is generally colder than Australia. I’m naturally a warm-climate kind of person (proved by the fact that my asthma and dermatitis cleared up completely in Oz…) so coming back to the land of coats and scarves wasn’t an exciting prospect.

The biggest shock was leaving the plane when I landed in London. I hurried to the car with my parents and huddled in the backseat, hiding from the chilly air. One of the first questions that friends ask upon my return: ‘Missing Australian weather?’ And the answer is yes, always yes. So much yes.

But it’s not all gloomy; I really do love wearing trackie bottoms and large jumpers, so there is a positive in this colder climate!

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My accent

An Australian barman mistook me for an Australian student. My academic tutor said I had a ‘twang’ in my voice. More than one rugby fresher were confused when I said I was from England. It’s dimmed now, but for the first month of being back in England, everyone commented on my accent to the point where I had to put on an English accent at times. It provided entertainment to some, and confusion to the rest.

Curiously, when I skyped my Australian friends, they said I sounded ‘As beautifully English as ever’.

How confusing…

Rugby and playing sports in general

I missed rugby a lot during my semester abroad. I had hoped to play rugby or Aussie Rules out there, but I wasn’t in the country during the season, much to my disappointment. Returning to the sport and, more importantly, my team was absolutely wonderful. They’re a crazy bunch of girls and I would’ve felt homesick for them had I not known I was coming back.

Relating to the weather, playing sports in Australia is much nicer (more people go jogging there for a reason!), especially when you can get a nice tan during a match. Wind, rain and mud isn’t always glorious to play in, but I have to admit that the cold is refreshing at times.

All in all, I’d be much sadder about returning to Manchester if it wasn’t for my rugby girls!

Staying still

After leaving the University of Queensland, I spent two months living out of a suitcase. I travelled to the North and South islands of New Zealand and visited the following Australian cities: Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Cairns and Townsville. And I had time to visit my friends along the way. Safe to say, I have found it strange being in the same accommodation for more than a month. I went to Durham last weekend and have already started playing my summer holiday – I’m addicted to travelling! But it’s something that I am willingly addicted to as there’s no other pastime I would rather spend spare money or time on.

Feeling homesick

Now, this will sound crazy. But I feel homesick for Brisbane. Pretty badly, really. Which is strange considering it’s not my original home.

I miss my friends, the lifestyle, the buildings, the river, the university, the animals (especially the animals!) and the sun. I felt more at home living in Brisbane for only four months than I have anywhere else in my life.

I’ve never felt homesick before (as much as I love my parents, skype is always there) and so this new feeling has left me feeling quite glum. The high workload this semester has been warmly welcomed as a distraction.

But it’s not all sadness, as I have a volunteer placement secured in Brisbane post-graduation next year!

Studying abroad has made me realise what I want from life. And what I want is to live somewhere with crazy animals, plenty of sun, and the ability to walk around barefoot.

Brisbane, I’ll be back. See you soon.