This will be the last blog I post from Western Australia and I thought I’d start it off with a bit of a recap of some practicalities of studying here. I spent last week with a friend from Glasgow who’s starting his year abroad in Queensland and he asked me about some of the stuff included here so I hope anyone bound for Perth/Australia finds it useful…
Visas/Flights – At this stage I’m sure everyone’s sorted out flight/visa stuff but if you haven’t booked a return flight home I would definitely recommend booking in store with STA when you’re ready to do so (we did this around February). This might be an obvious suggestion but we were ready to book online and decided to go in store anyway and ended up saving around $300 each on our return flights – I would recommend doing this even more if you’re planning a few stop offs on the way home.
Accommodation – Finding an apartment took us around a week and we’ve stayed in the same place for the whole year sharing with the landlord. Anyone coming here will be glad to know that rent prices have fallen since last year. Get to know the suburb you’re thinking about renting in and be sure to get in touch if you want some advice on particular areas. Here are a couple of quick links to get you started; https://flatmates.com.au http://www.realestate.com.au/buy, http://www.housing.uwa.edu.au/housing-database
Work – If you’re planning on working here you’ll need a Tax File Number, which can be obtained here; https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Tax-file-number/. You’ll also be required to join a superannuation fund (which is essentially a pension scheme) but your eventual employer will sort this out for you.
Study – Incase you haven’t figured out yet – your unit content (readings, submission links etc.) will be posted on www.lms.uwa.edu.au, while admin stuff (address, enrollment, transcript request) can be taken care of on https://student.sims.uwa.edu.au. From these two sites you can control every aspect of your study here at UWA.
Finance – In terms of banking I have regularly recommended Commonwealth bank to students moving to Australia. No fees on student accounts, loads of ATMs around Perth (you’ll be charged if you use the ATM of another bank other than the one you are with, although this excludes Bankwest for Commonwealth clients) and they also have a very user-friendly banking app which makes money management a lot easier. For transferring money I would always recommend www.transferwise.com & I hope the pound bounces back for all you new comers!
More in-depth info on all of this can be found in previous blogs and be sure to message me on Facebook if you have any further questions! Once you get your head around all this (mostly boring) admin stuff, you’ve got the fun side of study abroad to look forward to!
Travel – One of the most exciting aspects of studying abroad is the prospect of travelling to new places. Perth is well situated for exploring Asia and obviously the rest of Australia itself. If you’re spending a year in Perth there’s a strong chance you’ll also spend some time in Bali – we recently spent one week there but could have definitely stayed longer. Only a three and a half hour flight from Perth and plenty of budget airlines to pick from, Bali is a popular destination for exchange students in Perth.
After a hectic last month of uni work, we decided to make this trip a chilled out one. Despite getting off to a bumpy start, flying through a thunderstorm on our descent into Denpasar airport, the rest of the trip ran as smoothly as possible.
We started our trip by spending two nights on Gili Air – one of three Gili Islands and unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen in my life.
Gili Air can be reached by fast boat from Padang Bai and shouldn’t be missed if you find yourself in Bali. There’s no motorised transport on the island and bikes can be hired cheaply. Hotels are fairly priced too and we stayed in a Lumbung style Bungalow. We found Gili Air the ultimate place to just kick back, relax and get stuck in to some cocktails and a plate of Nasi or Mie goreng, two staple Indonesian dishes. These photos should speak for themselves but a couple nights on Gili Air will definitely have you feeling at one with the universe!
If you’re looking for more of a party scene I’ve heard that Gili Trawangan is the place for that (same goes for the Kuta region in Bali). After our two nights on Gili Air we caught the boat back to Bali and headed for Ubud – Bali’s cultural centre – which is known for its yoga, hand crafts, rice paddies and also its monkey forest – which most people visit regardless of where they’re staying in Bali.
There are plenty of activities/day-trips to keep you busy in Bali and we enjoyed doing an Indonesian cooking class and also a day-long downhill cycle tour, where you’re driven uphill to an impressive breakfast spot overlooking Bali’s active volcano Mt. Batur, stopping in at a coffee plantation along the way. After breakfast you set off downhill by bike and stop in at rice paddies, temples and a small Balinese village to learn about local culture and customs. Both the bike tour and cooking class were really fun and immersive experiences that made our trip so enjoyable.
The island is also known for it’s amazing surf/snorkeling and essentially has something for everyone – you’ll undoubtedly leave the island wishing you weren’t. Watch out for Bali belly (http://www.travelonline.com/bali/information/bali-belly.html) and pray you don’t get it just before your flight back to Australia!
Lastly, thanks to everyone who followed my blog posts from Australia and I hope those of you coming to Perth found them useful. Next time I blog will be from Glasgow so best of luck to everyone heading over to this amazing part of the world & enjoy yourself!