My first semester in Australia is over.
After what was perhaps the most intense exam period of my university life so far (economics exams are a lot more difficult here), summer holidays are finally upon me given the difference in seasons and academic calendar here in Queensland. Exchange students from the UK spending a whole year abroad in Australia can conveniently divide their stay into 3 periods: semester 2 (Jul-Nov) //\\ summer holidays (Nov-Feb)//\\ semester 1(Feb-June)
Now that I have completed semester 2 here and have a long (and busy) summer holiday ahead, I thought I’d try to answer some of the questions I had before coming to study in Australia. Hopefully many of you will find them useful as you decide on your study abroad destinations for your applications.
What is Australia like?
Well, this will depend on your experience and the places you’ve visited so far. The best way I could put it is that the place looks like the U.S.A. (the campus, the streets, the suburbs, the shops, the cities) while the people seem very “British” to me. If it’s not the accent, then it is definitely the humour that Australians have retained from their British ancestors. On another note and quite unsurprisingly, Australia is defined by its good weather. Going to the beach and BBQing is only really an enjoyable experience if the sun is shining which (in Queensland) is a pretty safe bet.
What is studying at an Australian university like?
It is really quite similar to university back home. We don’t have lots of lectures – when we do they are held in big rooms with lots of students and we also have weekly tutorials. Studying becomes a lot harder when the weather is nice outside (quite surprised what a difference it makes). Basically, if you are happy with how the study side of things work at Glasgow University, you’ll be fine here too and won’t need to adapt to a completely new academic environment.
What are living costs like in Brisbane?
This was and is a really important one which is why I always tell everyone Brisbane is the best place to come in Australia. Other than Sydney and Melbourne this place is reasonably cheap for Australian standards which is why I chose it as my study abroad destination. I have been able to find a really nice house (student housing is a lot, lot, lot better than in Glasgow) with a garden and BBQ 2mins away from campus for the same price you would pay for a West End flat. Supermarkets are generally more expensive (imagine having to shop at Waitrose without the free coffee/tea) but you can easily keep costs down by buying own brand things. As far as I know, Sydney and Melbourne tend to be more expensive for renting flats.
Should I go for 1 semester or 2 semesters?
Big question but I luckily found it an easy one to answer. If you come for 1 semester only you can still do loads of travelling before, during and after the semester (I know GU students that have) but having that summer holiday from November til February probably makes your experience even better. Still, coming for 1 semester is great too so it is really up to you.
Will I see Kangaroos?
To sum it all up (as you should do in any good essay), my semester here has been great so far but now comes an equally important part of studying abroad. For the next couple of months I will be travelling to New Zealand, Tasmania, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Bali and driving up to the Great Barrier Reef before uni starts again at the end of February.
So while this this has been a university life blog so far, it will transform into a travelling blog for the next few months.
In the meantime, try and get me on facebook or email me if you have any questions!