If the opportunity to study in Australia isn’t amazing enough in itself, let me use their upside-down-ness as a swaying factor. Because of the time zones and distance and backwardness (I’m sure there’s a more technical explanation), by going on exchange you get TWO summers in one year. The couple of months of my British summer before flying out here was a whirlwind of activities and emotions and so the fact I’m now on my second three month holiday is fantastic and a totally different experience…especially having Christmas in summer which was just wrong.
A few of my friends chose to use some of this time to go back home and visit family and friends but I decided to embrace this side of the world to its full potential and stay (and also save the $2000 I would have spent on flights back)! I’m only halfway through my time off uni just now but these are the reasons why it’s been so great so far:
1) You get to travel more within Sydney
Having more time to yourself without uni means you can embrace Sydney and the fact you’re in Australia a bit more without the “I’m here for a year, I’ll do it another time..” mentality. For me, this has meant more time to go on mini road trips and travel within Sydney because I really didn’t do that too much during term time. On Sunday, opal cards in Sydney (travel cards similar to Oyster cards in London) max out at $3.50 so you can travel unlimited ferries, trains and buses for no more than that. This is therefore a good time to get the ferry over to manly for a view of the city from the other side which is fun.
I also realised how big Sydney actually is when I went to the Blue Mountains for the night with some friends – we got an hour train and found ourselves in the middle of the mountains in a little town called Katoomba. The two days we went were beautiful weather and so we spent them exploring mountains, swimming in waterfalls, taking slightly longer detours and singing lots of Justin Bieber.
2) You get to travel more out with Sydney
Considering I feel like Sydney is big, travelling to other Australian states has been a proper adventure. My flatmate passed his driving test at the end of the year and bought his first car so we celebrated with a road trip down south to the Great Ocean Road. Waking up at 3am to drive 10 hours to Melbourne was totally outweighed by the experience of literally driving on the edge of the country with the most insane views. We camped in Apollo Bay and cooked the majority of our food on a stove so it didn’t even end up being expensive at all and so worth it! The Great Ocean Road is a part of the road that runs from Melbourne to Adelaide and is practically always right on the coast so regardless of where you stop, you’re surrounded by the most beautiful coastal views. I also saw my first wild kangaroos and koalas which was so cute… the koalas would just be sitting in the eucalyptus trees on the side of the road and as soon as the sun started to set you could see hundreds of wallabies and kangaroos on the hills.
3) Having no visa working restrictions
Another pro about being on holiday from uni is that your student visa is a lot more flexible. The maximum 20 hours a week that you can work during term time isn’t enforceable so I’ve been able to work loads to save up for travelling. I managed to find a job as a hostess in the revolving restaurant at the top of Sydney Tower, 360 Bar and Dining, which has been so much fun and I’ve met so many great people. As if getting to see the sunset over the city every night isn’t good enough, Australian pay rates don’t fail to disappoint… you can’t complain with $50 an hour on public holidays… especially not when we had two days that counted as the Boxing Day public holiday this year!
4) Having a foreign Christmas Day
How many times can you get the opportunity to say you spent Christmas Day on the beach and had a BBQ? For a lot of people spending Christmas Day away from home may be a bad thing and I’ll admit that regardless of the many Christmas films, secret Santa, our attempted roast dinner and Santa hats; I still didn’t really feel very festive. Regardless, our little Aussie family spent the day together with a Christmas breakfast, day at the beach (we saw Santa in a helicopter) and a Christmas house party to end the day.
5) You get to experience 2016 before everyone back home
To top off our hot Christmas Day, we had the most amazing New Year watching Sydney’s fireworks. As per usual, NYE started so many debates about how to spend it… we finally decided to buy tickets to Luna Park which I don’t regret at all! It’s literally right under the harbour bridge and because it was a ticketed event we got an amazing view without stressing too much or being pushed for space…we could also go on unlimited rides which you can’t complain about.
6) Travelling to other countries is so easy
Okay I now sound like an annoying backpacker/ gap year wanker by mentioning travelling again…but I can’t stress enough how easy/cheap visiting such different and diverse places is compared to if you were going from the UK. I’m just about to leave to fly up to Cairns and travel back down the East Coast on Australia and then flying out to Thailand to meet my parents there before visiting Asia with them!
In summary… don’t forget about the holidays when applying to study abroad! As much as it is about studying and obviously doing well, you can also make your year so much more than just being at University and being in Australia gives you this platform.
As per, message with any questions/worries and I’ll reply ASAP