Time flies when you’re Down Under

When I received the news that I would be fortunate to have a term abroad in Melbourne, Australia, I was ecstatic! However, I immediately had the concern of funding as I was aware of how expensive Australia is. Luckily, Reading University’s study abroad term informed me of the various bursaries that were available to me. When researching the various bursaries, the AFSA bursary stood out and after my applying I was granted the bursary, which I am so grateful for as it extended the amount of opportunities available.

The six months which I spent in Australia were incredible a once in a lifetime experience. However, even though before leaving England I had my philosophy modules pre-approved- when I was finalising them at La Trobe, only one philosophy module was running! This meant that I had to find two new modules. Although this was a hassle at the time, one of the modules I chose was ‘Feminism’, which ended up being based around philosophy and also helped me decide on my topic for my ‘Independent Learning Essay’, which I will have to complete in my final year at Reading. Moreover, I studied a module which opened my eyes to the history and discrimination of Aboriginals in Australia, which I found extremely interesting. At Reading, I am used to taking three modules per term, whereas at La Trobe, I had to take four which at first was a struggle, however, it taught me how to balance my time better so I could still get good grades, but also make the most of my time exploring Australia.

 

Due to my time management becoming stronger, I had many opportunities to travel around Australia and see the most of this beautiful country. The date of my flight gave me exactly a month of free time before heading home. In this time I travelled up the East Coast, starting in Sydney and ending in Cairns. Due to it being winter, the further north, the warmer it got. Melbourne got extremely cold (it reached -1 degrees at night), proving the popular belief that Australia is always hot, false. Thus, I was following the sun North! This was the perfect trip as I had just completed four large final pieces of coursework for La Trobe, so it was a well deserved relaxing holiday.

My time in Australia was unforgettable. In just six months, I learnt how to surf, held a Koala, tried various new foods and explored the East, West and South of Australia. From this experience, I have become more confident and open to new opportunities. I have made so many new friends all around the world, providing me with connections in New York, Sweden, Norway and of course, Australia.

I would recommend studying abroad to anyone, but I would thoroughly research each individual university on offer to make sure they were the best for my degree. Although six months away may seem daunting, I am a very family orientated person but the time flew by and I was never homesick as I was constantly busy, surrounded my amazing people. Enjoy every minute of it, because once you’re home, it feels as if you never left.

For the love of Quokka

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

Cameron spent the first part of his second year studying abroad at Curtin University in Australia as part of his Film and Theatre degree at Reading. If you’ve been following his semester abroad, read on for his final blog from his time in Australia. 

And so it is: my semester abroad has come to a close. Right now the end is in immediate sight but that does not mean that I squandered my last month in the land down under; sat on my haunches waiting for my flight home. Far from it! These last few weeks, like my whole time here in Australia has been outstanding. So let’s get into the details as I recount some of the spectacular stuff that I’ve recently experienced.

Firstly, what goes around comes around, as Ellie, my Melbourne-based study abroad partner in crime, came to visit me here in Perth. During Ellie’s time in Western Australia, we went on a quick tour of the state’s sightseeing highlights, including areas such as Fremantle Prison, as well as areas of the capital that I had not previously visited. However, the pinnacle of this lightning stop tour had to be travelling to Rottnest Island. A short ferry-ride from the coast of Perth, Rottnest acts as one of the few homes of the quokka, which are often cited as being the happiest animal on Earth.  After spending the day on the island, in their company, I have to agree.

After Ellie’s visit, normality resumed for a short while as I finished off some assessments. However, this did not last for long as I jetted off to Sydney to spend my penultimate week visiting family friends.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

Sydney Opera House

Sydney, like everywhere else that I have been in Australia, is an incredible city. The streets were lively, the people were welcoming, and the weather was beautiful. Thanks to an abundance of establishing shots from every movie that has ever had a scene set in Sydney, the iconic image of the Opera House has been ingrained into my consciousness since I was a child. I was always aware of it being a spectacular architectural achievement but actually witnessing the endlessly photographical building (or buildings) with my eyes was a breath-taking experience. Also, to see this building from the top of the Harbour bridge climb, on cloudless, sunny day, has to be one of the greatest moments of my life so far.
As stated earlier, I stayed with family friends while in Sydney and I could not have wished for better hosts. So generous and kind, with a great knowledge of the city, it was shame that I couldn’t stay any longer. When one of them comes to visit me and my family in the future I hope we can return the favour.

And after Sydney that was it – back to Perth to collect my things and say good bye to my friends at Curtin. I’m sure I will see them again.
Now it’s a very peculiar sensation as I write this final blog sat in Perth airport, waiting to board my first of two planes home. I feel as if studying in Australia is the only thing I’ve ever known, with my time at Reading being a distant but fond memory. At this moment I truly feel split between two worlds. Travelling and exploring the Land of Oz has been a terrific experience that I am going to miss dearly. But at the same time, I am longing for the crisp, chill air of Britain as Christmas creeps upon us. There is something very unsettling about tinsel being displayed while the sun blares down in 30 degrees Celsius. Either way, I’m sure I’ll settle on an opinion when I write my retrospective blog in about 4 weeks. Till then, in the words of Simon & Garfunkel, my thoughts go “To England, where my heart lies.”

Cameron

Missed Cameron’s last post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2k3223C

Hanging out with Wallabies

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

Sarah studied abroad at La Trobe University in Australia as part of her Art & History of Art degree at Reading over the Autumn term. The semester down under has already come to an end. Read on to find out how she has made the most of her time Down Under before returning to the UK. 

So, I have come to the end of my Semester abroad! Although the term officially ends tomorrow my last class was a month ago, and my last exam two weeks, so I have been soaking up the Australian lifestyle and travelling the East Coast!

It was sad to say goodbye to Melbourne and La Trobe; I had a great time in the city and made a lot of good friends which only really gives me an excuse to travel to more places.  My last few days were spent on rooftop bars, eating dumplings and catching the trams around the CBD, all things that will be impossibly expensive once back in England!

My classes have gone well but the results easy to forget about as I am having far too much fun travelling, one of great opportunities that study abroad has given me. After learning about Australia for the past three months it has been incredible to get out and see it. From the diversity of the heat and humidity of Darwin, with its red sands and tropical plants, to the British chill and lush greenery of Tasmania it is hard to believe you are in one country. The Whitsunday Islands were a dream come true and so picture perfect that you have to remind yourself you’re still awake. Sydney on the other hand stands out as the biggest iconic city in Australia, with a diversity of culture and activities to match. I’ve hung out with more wallabies than I could count and seen so many adorable koalas that I could barely take anymore cuteness. After visiting City College of the Arts final exhibition in Sydney I just want to do another exchange! Studying abroad has made me consider my options of further education and Masters and has opened so many doors of living possibilities, jobs and travel!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

I am currently on a flight back to Melbourne and will then be getting one to New Zealand tomorrow. Just a year ago I couldn’t foresee travelling to all of the amazing places so far from home and even living it now I feel incredibly lucky and can’t wait for the next adventure.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

The whole experience of study abroad, from July to now, has been of massive positive impact. It was hard to move so far from home at the beginning, to such a different culture and I’ve tested my strengths and weaknesses along the way and feel I’ve come out as a better rounded person. After experiencing the transition of culture, lifestyle and time difference I am eager to help any other study abroad students coming to Reading to settle in and feel at home as quickly as possible. It can be daunting to move away and can sometimes feel as though the other place is a dream (as their day is your night!) but the rewards are so much more than any feeling of homesickness and you soon only feel excited for the next chapter.

Overall, study abroad has been an A* experience and if I could do it again I definitely would!

Sarah

Missed Sarah’s last blog? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2h9ASax

 

 

From Perth to Bali to Melbourne and Back

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

Cameron is currently studying abroad at the Curtin University in Australia as part of his Film and Theatre degree at Reading. It’s been a month or so since Cameron’s last blog – read on to see what’s he’s got up to since!

My, oh my! It’s fair to say the past two months have been pretty spectacular. A lot has happened since I wrote my last blog; including 3 trips, my twentieth birthday, and a little bit of work – it’ll be pretty hard to condense all the events down to such concise descriptions. However, I will try my best to detail all of the amazing experiences I have gone through since the start of August.

Firstly, I was able to see some of the beautiful scenery on display in Western Australia, going on a 3-day tour of the south-west. On this trip, we visited numerous beaches and coves, hiked up hills and walked amongst the tree tops, as well as having the chance to visit Margaret River and one of its famous wineries. A highlight of this trip had to be climbing the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, a towering green giant, with a platform positioned at its 75-metre tip, which was once used as a lookout for forest fires. Despite being absolutely terrifying, the climb to the top was absolutely worth it one of the best views imaginable.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

The travelling continued as during my first study break a group of us foreign exchange students took a holiday to the sun-drenched island of Bali. Going to Bali gave us a brief escape from university work, as well as providing a refreshing change of scenery with its beautiful beaches and coastlines, being especially relevant when we got to watch the sunset from a bar built into the side of a cliff. Bali was an incredible place to visit and somewhere I didn’t expect to be venturing to while studying abroad in Australia but I am so glad that I go to go there. I’m sure I will revisit in the future if I get the chance.

My adventures did not end here. Far from it!  In my next study break I jetted off to Melbourne to meet my fellow study abroad-er, at La Trobe University, Ellie. Melbourne was an amazing city that radiated culture with its vast ethnic diversity (the largest Greek population outside of Greece as the historic 35 tram told me), huge food scene, as well as the numerous amount of museums and galleries. While there, Ellie treated me to a swift but packed tour of some of Melbourne’s best attractions to visit. If I had to just name a few I’d have to go for; The National Gallery of Victoria, Hozier Lane, Brighton Beach Huts, watching penguins go to their nests at a St. Kilda beach, ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image – could technically count it as revision). This is just a quick highlight of some of the locations from my brief visit to Melbourne and doesn’t even include all of the excellent restaurants. Melbourne is definitely a city that I can’t wait to return to, only having scratched the surface of what it has to offer.

During the moments when I have been at Curtin University, my work has been going well. Through my most recent assignments I have been able to explore an aspect of film that I am strongly interested in, this being screenwriting. One of my assignments saw us creating the concept and synopsis for a TV Drama, then writing a pitch for it, which was a lot of fun, giving me the chance to let my creative juices flow. Another intriguing aspect of my education at Curtin so far has been the unit Experimental Screens. This unit has really progressed my definition of what cinema can be and has opened my eyes to a new idea of filmmaking that I will hopefully implement into my future projects.

I can fairly say that so far I have been thoroughly spoilt by my trip down-under, being blessed with opportunities to explore not just Australia but also Bali. However, even though I have done and seen so much already that’s not going to stop me from adventuring out and seeing all that Oz has to offer. I just have to see what the future has in store for me.

Till then, have a good one.

Cameron

 

Living in the World’s Most Liveable City

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

Not so long ago we caught up with Sarah who’s studying abroad at La Trobe University with her Art and History of Art degree at Reading. Read on to find out what else she has been up to half way through her semester abroad. 

So, I’m halfway through my time studying here in Aus and time has flown by! My courses and tutors have been great and really understanding in helping with my dissertation work and general studies. Although the modules haven’t linked directly to my course they have been broadening my knowledge about Australia, helping me gain awareness I wouldn’t get back home. An important aspect of studying abroad is to embrace a change of information flow and how to use new information to explore a wider outlook.

Australia has been amazing in giving me a different perspective of how art can be used as a learning tool for history and how our modern social and cultural lives can be impacted by the past. I have been looking at how art can give undocumented history a voice and Australia’s turbulent past is incredible to learn from. I have been studying Aboriginal art and also the display of art in galleries around Melbourne. I visited the Gold Coast and Byron Bay a few weeks back and stayed in an Airbnb whose host is an Aboriginal artist! Apart from having an amazing time surfing, seeing live bands, and getting a tan, I also got to interview Anthony as part of my dissertation and artwork. I have had so many experiences from study abroad that would not have been possible otherwise and greatly benefited my degree already.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

For the rest of the time of not soaking up the sun on the East Coast I’ve explored Melbourne, falling for its many exemplary coffee shops, rooftop bars, and beautiful architecture that combines British colonial times with the skyscrapers of our modern cities. For a city that is half the size of London you can still easily get lost in its streets and take a day of simply exploring it’s many markets. I’ve been amazed at the price of transport and taken advantage of the £2.50 day fair that lets you go around the whole city! For me personally a city experience was something I really wanted to gain from Study Abroad. London is great and so close to Reading but the minimum cost of at least £20 anytime I want to go in means it’s less of a regular occurrence than I’d like. Living on the outskirts of Melbourne has meant I’ve got to explore city life more than once a week and still have money left for my travel plans when Uni finishes!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

Living in the world’s most liveable city is pretty great, I must admit! At the halfway point of my studies I already feel as though 1 semester is not nearly enough. It was easy to get homesick for England in the first few weeks but it feels as though this is another home now and will be just as hard to leave. I’ll blog on again in the next month to let you know just how hard it is to say goodbye! But for now I’m off to the CBD[i] to catch up with a few friends over some good food and a pot[ii]!

Sarah

[i] Melbourne Central Business District (city centre)
[ii] Half pint

Getting Mummified in Melbourne

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Full Academic Year.

Tim is currently studying abroad at Monash University in Australia with his Henley Business School degree at Reading. Read on to find out what he got up to in ‘O-Week’ during his first few weeks studying abroad Down Under. 

It now feels like a lifetime ago when I was first introduced to the difference between “yeah nah” and “nah yeah” (the latter being key). Landing on the Tullamarine runway after 24 hours of crying babies and thunderous snoring (not me), is a foggy jet-lagged memory that will remind me forever as the start to my year abroad in Melbourne!

The Clayton campus at Monash University is a lot bigger than I first anticipated. No longer are the days where I could leave 5 minutes before a lecture started and still make it on time. I live in Farrer Hall a 10-20 minute walk to campus depending on where your lecture is situated. Before arriving, I was told that Farrer was by far the most sociable halls on campus and after the first few days of my residency it was already clear that this was 100% true. A common room, 2 games rooms featuring table tennis, a pool table and a cinema style TV, I still remain to never have had a dull moment in Farrer whether it was either participating in the activities of O-week or potting a few balls with friends.

O-week is the equivalent to “freshers” in the UK however, there seemed to be a lot more activities to do during these first two weeks in Australia as well as a lot more free food on campus!

The most notable events during O-week were the scavenger hunts. The first was around the university campus doing an activity (such as mummifying a team member in toilet paper (Me)) or ‘striking a pose’ at each destination. We end up coming second and winning a pack of “TimTams”.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Full Academic Year.

Melbourne Central Station

The second scavenger hunt was host in the city of Melbourne. Each team were given an activity sheet and required to perform each task on the list, record it and upload it to the events page online to get points for your team. Some examples include serenading a stranger, forming a conga line on the train and running into the wall at platform 9 ¾.

The typical night out is a trip to “Dooley’s” on a Wednesday and/or “The Nott” on a Thursday. I was introduced to the infamous “goon” before these nights out, the beverage of choice for most students thanks to its price – not the taste.

With money running low, finding a job is very difficult when considering the distance to travel anywhere within Melbourne from the university. A bus, train and tram are usually needed to get anywhere within the city, getting to closer suburbs requires a few bus changes which can easily take up to an hour to get to.

Nevertheless, I’d never have dreamt that I’d have had this much fun already and met so many amazing people. I’m eager to see what the rest of the semester brings as well as explore the rest of activities Melbourne has to offer.

Tim

 

Kangaroos, Koalas and Wombats Down Under

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

Cameron is currently studying abroad at the Curtin University in Australia as part of his Film and Theatre degree at Reading. Back in July Cameron moved to Perth to start his semester studying abroad. Read on to see how he got on settling into life down under!

So I’ve been in Perth for 3 weeks now and things are going pretty great. The first couple of days were a little rocky as I adapted to my new situation but I easily settled in as I got to meet new people and made some friends- everything since then has been amazing! Everyone is very welcoming and it seems like the Australian consensus is to be friendly to all they meet.

Even though I was initially uneasy for those first few days, this didn’t stop me from exploring what Perth has to offer. I wandered around the city, exploring the CBD and some of Perth’s boroughs like Leederville and Northbridge, taking in the vast array of restaurants and shops, as well as visiting a couple of independent cinemas . I went into one with no idea of what they were showing and the guy at the counter happily gave me a suggestion on what to watch, reinforcing my view that Aussies are always glad to help.

One of the best spots in Perth has to be Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. The park is a great green space that stretches over 4km², filled with plant-life from all over Australia and with a beautiful view that looks over both the towering cityscape of Perth’s financial district and the glistening Swan River. I’m sure I will be visiting Kings Park many times during my stay here and will try to capture its beauty with my camera. However, you do have to watch out for PokemonGo players as they have swarmed the area, transforming the park into a real life Safari-Zone.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

A stand out experience was having the chance to go to Caversham Wildlife Park, giving us Study Abroad students the opportunity to have close-up interactions with some of Australia’s native animals. At the park I hand fed kangaroos, sat next a koala carrying her baby in her pouch and met with Big Bert, the wombat, who happened to be the cutest thing I have ever seen! It was incredible to see these animals in real life and in action. Or, in the case of the koalas, inaction seeing as they sleep around 18 hours per day.

As for education, Curtin is a huge university with about 60,000 students and a grand selection of courses where anyone will easily find something that truly interests them. Most new people I meet seem to be doing a different kind of course or have some variation in their modules compared to others on the course, there really is something that suits everyone. For me, the film (or Screen Arts as they call it) department is a very exciting place to study. While taking an interest in similar subject areas at Reading, it seems to have further hands-on elements, even in the theory classes, which I quite enjoy as it gets us actively involved in the ideas we are discussing. For any prospective Study Abroad students doing film I would strongly consider Curtin as a place to go if you want to learn about cinema from a different creative perspective.

My adventures in Perth have been a delight so far and I have only started to scratch the surface of what the university, the city and the whole of Australia has to offer. I’m looking forward to spending the next few months continuing to explore the country and I’m sure I’ll be very busy visiting new places, right up until I have to say farewell.

Cameron

G’Day Mate!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

Sarah is currently studying abroad at La Trobe University in Australia as part of her Art & History of Art degree at Reading! The semester down under started back in July and this is how she got on just a few weeks in.

I arrived in Australia to an initially grey and wet Melbourne morning, perhaps the most British weather I could have encountered, and embarked on my next journey to my new house. As I decided against halls I had found this house on a flat share website and Skyped the people to say ‘how you going’[i] – they seemed lovely and had a pup so I was very optimistic! Three weeks down the line I have not been disappointed. We cook together a few days a week, play board games and go out for a couple of pots[ii] whenever we can. For me personally this is an ideal situation of living with graduates and exploring a more city orientated life than university based one. As I am in my third year and took a gap year I would definitely recommend this for slightly older students embarking on their study abroad, if a hiking trip trumps a club night!

Reading student settling into her Melbourne accommodation for her study abroad semester.

In my first year of university many of my friends in my accommodation were study abroad students themselves, and one of my best friends was from Australia! Since coming over here I have visited him a few times and experienced a few Aussie’ rules football games and also a ‘footy-ball’, which was a swanky and exceedingly Australian affair with a live band, cocktail dresses and many a stubby[iii]. This was a great experience to get to know a very Victorian[iv] culture as they are all footy mad and love a beverage.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Semester

My classes (arguably the reason I came here) have been very interesting so far. After a slight hiccup of discovering they no longer have practical art classes on this campus I am taking a few history modules that are relevant to my dissertation topic. I think one of the most important things to realise quickly is to not panic about university, it will take a week or so to sort out but it should work out fine! I am taking this opportunity of being down under to learn about the history and culture of Australia, from the time of the colonists and before, a subject I knew less than nothing about before being here. I am looking to write my dissertation around cultural impacts on the aboriginal people of the settlers and this is an ideal opportunity.

Now that I have got settled into my routine here, the time difference and the hemisphere (all us Europeans agree that it definitely affects your sense of direction) I am starting to plan my travel and research around Australia. I’ve already booked a trip to Byron Bay and the Gold coast and will begin some more adventures soon!

I’ll keep you updated on those and will carry on having an amazing time for now,

Sarah

[i] How you going –The most commonly used phrase to say what’s up
[ii] Pot- Half a pint
[iii] Stubby- Australian slang for bottle of beer
[iv] Victorian- Those living in the state of Victoria