The E word and application tips


However, this time last week my mentality was completely different: I had two more exams looming and a serious lack of motivation.


Exams looming like these clouds….okay I just wanted an excuse to put up this picture – how insane is this cloud!!

EXAMS. At the end of the day, exams are exams – no amount of sun and fun foreign activities can make that any better. Having said that, the whole vibe around exam period is noticeably different here than in Glasgow:

  1. Exams vary from 10 – 50% of your final grade rather than 100% exams we mostly always have in Glasgow
  2. Exams aren’t anonymous (in quite a few of my classes my tutor actually took photos of us so they’d know whose paper they were marking)…. Unsure if this is a good thing!
  3. My exam was in a racecourse! Bute hall is pretty impressive, but being top floor of a racecourse with a view of Sydney is also very cool – so hard to focus on competition law when you’ve got that to look at right beside you
  4. If you say you’re ‘revising’ you’ll get weird looks… everything is just ‘studying’
  5. (for law anyways) exams are open book – for me this was actually a lot harder to revise for because it’s a very different way of tackling questions, knowing what to memorise and what to look up on the day etc…
  6. You don’t have to get up at 6am just to be able to find a seat in the library – there’s so many places to study so you can find a seat pretty easily all the time; I spent most of my time in the law library, the Business school or on benches outside (they have plugs, it’s great)
  7. Motivation is harder to find, especially when there’s the beach and 40degree heat and your friends going on fun trips as distractions


Enough about exams though, regardless of where you are – this is your third year and you pretty much just need to knuckle down and get on with it. At least here you have the motivation of sun and 3 months holiday. I realise I haven’t put too much practical stuff about applications and since you’re probably starting to do these now I’ll post some of the questions I’ve been asked so far… please don’t hesitate to ask more specific ones and I’ll try reply ASAP.

 (1) How much were your visa, flights and insurance, and are you getting any of them reimbursed?

UNSW do a streamlined visa thing which means its super easy and fast to get a visa (it only took 24 hours when I applied) but to obtain the visa you need to have receipt and proof of purchase of Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover which you have to get for a year – I got cover for 1 year and 2 months because I’m not sure how long I’m staying next year and this cost me $682.50 (£318).

Following this I was able to get my visa which cost another  £300

Then for flights, I booked return flights for £1200 – my return date is currently in April but it only costs £100 for me to change this so worked out cheaper than two singles

I don’t think I’m eligible to get any of that reimbursed although I think I read somewhere that I might be able to get my health cover reimbursed…will need to look into it!

So it is a lot – almost £2000 before even leaving the UK.

2) How much is your rent in Sydney?

I’m staying in UNSW village which is halls right on campus which is so ideal but you pay a lot to live on campus. In an eight person flat my weekly rent is $258.50 (£120) which is significantly more than I paid in Glasgow. I’m just here for this semester though so looking for a flat which will be slightly cheaper for next semester.

3) What are your general living costs?

To give you an idea about living costs, this is what i’ve spent in the last month:

$45 for my phone bill

$20 for uni my uni card (printing and laundry)

$50 transport (including ubers home from nights out etc, and you can by a “my multi” bus pass which is 10 bus rides for $10)

$350 on food (but I eat out quite a lot, this could probably be cheaper if you did food shops at Aldi and made most of your meals at home)

$376 on nights out/trips etc (this is a lot more than normal because I bought gig tickets and festival tickets for New Years Day…it was also Melbourne Cup so spent a lot that day)

$50 at the post office

$40 on toiletries

ATM: $80 (think I spent this on clothes…)

This is over $1000 BUT if I take out festival tickets etc this would be like $850 which is £400 (excluding rent).

This is also balanced out by wages if you get a job here – bar jobs are reasonably easy to find and at a lot of bar jobs pay is typically around $23 p/h and $30 p/h on Sundays

4) Their semester times are different to ours so how does that work?

Because their year is the other way round, you start with semester 2 (July-November) then have a three month “summer holiday” until March when you do semester 1 until the end of June.

5) Do you come back home over Christmas or stay in Australia?

Regarding their summer holiday – I’m staying at UNSW Village and my contract runs until 1st January, then you can extend it for a further 6 months on top of this. I assume most accommodation is similar with dates, which means that you have somewhere to stay – or a few people I know have rented a house and similarly continue to rent it during this period. Most people that I know on exchange here are just staying in Australia over this whole period – using the time to travel the country rather than returning home but because we get 3 months off it is also possible to go home over Christmas for a month and still have time to travel here a bit.

6) I was also wondering how do the law modules work since UNSW only offers law as a dual degree, do you still take only law modules or do you have to pick to study one of the dual programmes?

Because we just study law by itself, you do the same when you come here – each semester you pick 4 law subjects and you have the choice between undergrad subjects or postgrad subjects depending which ones interest you more. This semester I took:

Competition Law

Conflicts of Law

Theories of Law and Biology

The Criminal Trial

These are all very different to options offered at Glasgow so definitely good to take advantage of the variety of subjects.

This covers the majority of questions I’ve been asked so far, but I remember stressing about the application/choosing the right host university so much this time last year so send me a message if you’ve got any other questions or worries. You definitely won’t regret picking Sydney – I’ll leave you with some pictures of my last month to convince you more. GOOD LUCK!!!

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