I have been back in Manchester for a semester since living in Australia for one year. I have learned so much from moving away and living on the other side of the world. Studying abroad is such an amazing and unique way to grow academically and personally in a short period of time.
Before I moved to Australia I really believed that I would be heartbroken when I left but I wasn’t. I was so grateful for the experiences, opportunities, and friends that I had made but I was excited to come back home. Studying abroad has made me realise how small the world really is. A flight across the world only takes one day! Since being back in Manchester I have had two Aussie friends come and visit me and have Facetimed with others almost daily. On reflection I wish I hadn’t been so worried about leaving as I am so happy to be back in Manchester!
Another reflection upon returning is how quickly a year passes. It only feels like last month that I was writing my application to study abroad and attending all of the pre-departure sessions. I can’t believe that I am already back. One tip I will give that is a bit cliche is say yes to everything! Your time flies by and you will regret the socials you didn’t go to and the trips that you missed to stay in and study.
The highlight of my year in Australia was definitely all of the travelling and trips that I did! I would recommend saving some money for road trips and spontaneous holidays as they really made the year. It is depressing to write this post in rainy dark Manchester knowing that this time last year I was in Bali.
Studying abroad is the best thing I have done during my time at university and I would recommend it to anyone. I would say go into your exchange with zero expectations. Don’t worry about the small details as you will look back after a year and wonder why you were so worried about them. Join societies, travel as much as you can and enjoy yourself as before you know it you will be back in Manchester.
Moving to Western Australia, I remember someone telling me that Perth was the most remote capital city in the world. Initially this didn’t appeal to me as I have enjoyed living in the UK. My family home is about an hour away from London and studying in Manchester I had direct links to all major UK cities. Additionally, adventure is never far away with flights all over Europe being cheap and relatively inexpensive. Perth located in Australia’s largest state of Western Australia is completely isolated surrounded by nature and tiny towns. However, what I have found is so much greater than I imagined. Perth offers something totally unique. You get the benefits of living in a large modern metropolitan city, whilst being surrounded by some of the most beautiful and secluded spots on the planet.
When I first arrived in Perth I stayed in ‘Mumma’s Hostel’ located in the trendy area of Perth known as Northbridge. Soon after I was offered a place at St Catherine’s residential college. Living in college is a completely different experience. It is like halls, but the residents tend to stay there for their entire degrees. Everyone is super friendly, so despite only having just arrived I was able to celebrate my 20th with friends.
The university itself is beautiful, the architecture is stunning. I’ve seen people come and take their wedding photos here. My walk to class feels like walking through a botanical garden. There are even peacocks that wonder around the campus!
Although it was initially weird leaving, especially going from summer to what the Aussies call winter (20c weather and blue skies). I am really enjoying my time in Perth so far. The people are relaxed, the coffee is great, and the natural beauty of the area is exceptional. I can’t wait to live and create many memories here in Australia.
Click or copy and paste the link above to access the map. Make sure to zoom in on both cities and click on the icons for descriptions of each pinned location.
This map demonstrates my experience studying at the University of Western Australia, compared to the University of Manchester.
Locations such as my home, the library, and my study spaces have been pinned. These show the spatial difference between Manchester and Perth as well as showing my movement in the cities.
By clicking on the different pins and reading the descriptions, you can view how locations in the separate cities differ.
Furthermore, comments on the assessment style difference can be found under ‘Main Library’.
The main finding when completing this map has been seeing how little space I occupy in Perth. Compared to Manchester, where I cover 10km more.
This shows the difference between a campus university and a city university. As well as how they influence your learning experience, sense of place and movement.
When I was told that I would have to write a series of blogs for the global ambassador programme, I had assumed that my final blog would be about how I was looking forward to going home and seeing my family. Where this in part is true, my biggest fear right now is leaving Australia and going back to life as I knew it before. The truth is Australia has become my home now and the thought of going back to Manchester actually scares me a little.
There is a blog circulating around social media talking about the things people don’t tell you when you go on a year abroad and reading it I couldn’t help but feel that this was going to be me upon my return home (link below). Yes I am excited to go home and see may family and friends, to see how much my nephews have grown, and to see what has changed since I’ve been gone, but a large part of me just isn’t ready to go back yet. I know for a fact for the first few weeks seeing everyone and catching up with them will be great, but once that stops ill find myself yearning to be back in this Magnificent country.
I have always thought of my self an an independent person, but coming on this year abroad has just proven it to me further. I value friends and family, but I also value the opportunities you get in life to travel, explore and push your own emotion and physical boundaries and this has year has done just that.
I often sit back, look at my bank account and think; Geez its been an expensive year, but then i remember all the travelling I’ve done, the memories I created and the people I’ve met and I wouldn’t change any of it. All the experiences I’ve had have created a fire that wants to continue to create more memories, experience new culture and meet new and interesting people from all over the world. If anyone asks me how much Ive spent, ill happily tell them, but i will also follow with how I’ve spent it. I like to think i have made the most of my year abroad and would urge anyone else going on a year abroad is to grab the experience with both hands. The opportunities you get when your away may never happen again. If the local residents invite you into there homes, take it. If they invite you to go away for the weekend, accept it. It is often to local people that can give you the best opportunities whilst your away, as they know all the best spots.
It hasn’t always been an easy ride out here, there has been many occasion where I’ve felt guilty that I haven’t gone home due to the death or illness of a relative and when I ended up in hospital myself over Christmas I began to feel what it must be like for my family back home. However despite this, my parents have never urged me to go home and part of me thanks them for that as I’ve been able to experience some incredible things out here.
I’m coming out of this experience a better person, with a wider friendship group, with some of the funniest and nicest people I’ve met and can see that longtime friendships have been formed. We all arrived as slightly lost exchange students and we’ve all grown together. Independence, confidence, self motivation and courage are all character traits that’s have only progressed and improved since being here.
I have spoken to the fellow Manchester students about there thoughts on going ‘home’, none of us are ready and in fact at least four of us have said we will be returning as soon as is possible. Personally I have plans to try and locate a job out here within the environmental science field.
To put this in to perspective I’m writing this blog at three in the morning, the day before i leave, as I lay awake contemplating what my next move is going to be. Right now I’m not ready to go home. My advice now is to anyone thinking of going on a year abroad, is do it. You will have your reservations and doubts and you may hesitate to make a decision, which is normal, but from me to you, you will not regret that decision to go, initially it will be hard to say goodbye, but the people you met, the experiences you have make it all worth while. And if you are anything like I am right now, I’m having a hard time saying goodbye to Australia, so I’m not going to. Plans to return are already underway and I’m hoping to be back very soon.
So I’ll catch ya later Perth!
Under African Skies: THE HARDEST PART OF TRAVELLING THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT
After a short stop over back in Perth, it was time to fly to Auckland, to begin my dream travelling New Zealand. This trip is something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time and it finally arrived.
Whilst it was exciting to arrive in New Zealand, I was left a little underwhelmed by Auckland itself. The city i found to be rather small, with not much going on, however I’m sure those that were studying there themselves would tell me otherwise (sorry guys!).
But it wasn’t long till once again we were on our way. This time we had our trusty Wicked camper car which was to be our home for the next month. Anytime I’ve had to describe this car I get some seriously funny looks, its essentially a car with a tent attached to the top. So for the sake of this blog I’m going to attach a photo!
The first part of the month saw us travelling around the North island. Stop one took us North to the Bay of islands. Again I found myself on another boat, coasting around the wonders of Otehei bay.
We made our way down the North Island, stopping in Tauranga, to climb Mt. Maunganui and visit some relatives of one of the girls, who kindly took us out kayaking and provided us with some cheese and wine for the evening. This short stopover allowed us to rejuvenate from camping, so some washing and get a shower before moving on to visit the attraction Hobbiton. Hobbiton, as some may know is the movie set for the movies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Below are some of the pictures of this beautiful area, with its surrounded mountains and rolling hills.
Welome to Hobbiton
Think we are a little too big for this Hobbit house
Rotorua treated us to a Maori experience, in which the day involved the local tribe teaching and showing us the traditional lifestyles, artwork, dances and food (Hangi). We also had a bit of fun Zorbing beforehand – Rolling down a big hill in a blow up ball.
As my friends 21st birthday was fast approaching, she decided that she would like to had a crack black water rafting. This experience took us tubing through Waitomo’s cave systems, through small rapids and down small waterfalls, in almost complete darkness, to allow us to witness the beauty of the glow worms that reside inside. The next day saw venturing into Taupo, to take on the Tongaririo Crossing, a 8 hour, 19.4km hike through rocky volcanic terrain, with sulphur lakes and surrounding mountains. After an early start, we finished the walk around 6 hours later, a lot quicker than was originally anticipated. The one problem we found with freedom camping was after strenuous activities, it was hard to find showers to clean off. However this time we found ourself at a local swimming pool, enjoying a gentle swim and having a shower before moving on.
Wellington was our final stop on the North island before, making our way across the cook strait onto the South island. There was an excitement within the city, when we quickly realised that it was the HSBC rugby 7’s series being played that weekend. Walking along the seafront, there were crowds of people in fancy dress and we even managed to bag ourselves some free ice cream, unfortunately due to time scales we didn’t actually get to attend.
Our trip South started off with some excitement. Our first stop was to Kaikoura, where we did a spot of whale watching. Normally you would only see 1 or 2 sperm whales whilst out on the water, but we got lucky and managed to get a glimpse of 4!
After a brief but thrilling stop over in Kaikoura, we thought it was only right that we experienced some of New Zealand finest wines, in the Marlborough region, before heading North to the Abel Tasman. We ventured to about 4 or 5 wineries, tasting a range of wines, grown and produced, as well as trying a few cheeky liquor shots. This was a chance to get into some nice clothing instead of our usual, walking and adventure gear.
The Abel Tasman was peaceful and allowed us to get out of the car and go for a walk around the bays that occupy the North of the South island. Here the sun was shining and people were out kayaking and trekking similar trails to the ones we were. We had a relaxing day walking, and at the end we even got to relaxing in some of the secluded bays situated here, with pristine sands and clear blue waters. Leaving such a beautiful area wasn’t favourable, but we had to move onto to the next place….. Queenstown.
Queenstown is where the action is happening. Hundreds of backpackers find themselves here, testing there own limits, bungy jumping and whitewater rafting, whilst hitting up the nightlife in the evening. Its easy to spend a small fortune here getting stuck into all that NZ has to offer. It was here we tried our hand at an unusual activity of river surfing. This essentially is like whitewater rafting, but the raft is replaced with a body board, where you travel down a stretch of the Kawarau river and through the rapid systems, with a cliff jump at the end. Whilst were were here we booked onto a Milford Sound cruise, the next destination on our trip.
Describing the Fiordlands of Milford sounds, is hard so for the sake of the blog I’m just going to upload a photo. All i can say is that it is stunning and so peaceful.
After a short visit to Milford sound, we made the journey to Dunedin, where there was only one place we could visit; Cadbury’s world. So much chocolate to be tried and tested, we even got free goody bag on the way. Before long we were onto Christchurch, the final stop on our 4 week journey. We experienced more than we hoped for in our visit to Christchurch. There was a mixed reception from the group regarding the city. The devastation of the 2011 earthquakes is still very much apparent. Many of the streets are still just rubble and the whole city looks like a construction ground. It was here however that again we all had our first experience of an earthquake. On February 13th Christchurch was hit with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. This was slightly scary as, the earthquake that caused so much devastation in 2011, was not much smaller than this. Once you’ve visited the city, you being to understand why not much construction is happening. There are still aftershocks occurring everyday, making building hard to undertake and regulate.
Lets just say New Zealand didn’t disappoint. I have already decided I will be returning to this stunning country, in the very near future, with the hope for one day moving over there. It is a truly magical country, in more ways than one. As I’m not much of a photographer, Im going to share and link my friend Neil’s site at the end. He hitchhiked the country and captured new Zealand in all its glory, and his pictures truly show off the country the way it should be.
There is never enough time to visit a county and see it all in it entirety. I could have stayed here for much longer than 4 weeks but I unfortunately had to make my way back to Perth.
The travelling didn’t quite end there. My flight back to Perth, saw me have another 4 day break in Melbourne, Just enough time for me to travel the Great Ocean Road, a 243km stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford.
So several plane, boat and car journeys later, now the sad time has come for me start back studying; these soils aren’t going to dig themselves.
Note: As part of my Geography placement, I had to make a video of all the trips and excursion taken on this trip. The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/KmNsRUhSRSc
By Rachael Harrison (University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
Since uni ended the countdown to Australia began. The excitement braced me everyday. Everyone who knew I was off on this year long adventure asked the same question, ‘Are you excited?’, ‘Aren’t you lucky to be going on this adventure?’; I could only simply answer yes, with a beaming smile. I knew I was very lucky to have been given this opportunity to study abroad, all thanks to The University of Manchester.
The night before the departure was tough saying bye to my parents, brother and nephews, knowing that when I returned the youngest one would have changed so much, but thankfully we can still Facetime and Skype. There was a lot of last-minute packing involved, deliberating over whether I really needed that extra jumper or pair of trousers and then the worrying if my bag was overweight. I used various methods to attempt to weigh the bag on a set of old school bathroom scales, which gave a different reading every time!
My journey started at Manchester International Airport, where the excitement become all too real, I was actually going to Australia. I was flying with Qatar Airways going from Manchester to Doha, Doha to Perth with an overall flight time of just under 19 hours. Saying goodbye to my friends and family was sad, but I knew that the journey ahead of me was going to be worth it. I checked in (suitcase underweight), said goodbye to my family and then I was off – this was it!