Arrival in Australia

When I arrived in Australia, it wasn’t exactly the weather I expected, grey, cloudy and windy. Luckily, thanks to the study abroad co-ordinators at my host university setting up a Facebook group, I had managed to find people on my flight from Abu-Dhabi to Perth in which I was able to travel to the university with. I was the only one at my flat when I first arrived, reality then hit that this was going to be a challenging experience, many emotions ran through my head but already having friends who were in the same boat made it a lot easier (it’s hard not to develop a close friendship 26 hours flying). Being in student accommodation made it a lot easier to meet people from all across the world, something I had not experienced at Reading.Curtin’s O-week is pretty much like the fresher’s events we have on campus. It allows you to get to know the campus, what societies and sports they have to offer, and also to get familiar with the happy hour they have at The Tav (their equivalent to Park Bar). The study abroad department, and accommodation office organise a lot of trips, which allows you to experience the city and also spend time with those also studying abroad. So far this has involved going to Caversham Wildlife Park, where I got to see koalas and kangaroos, Freemantle Prison, Kings Park and many more. My friend in other accommodation has hired a car which meant we could easily get to and embrace the beaches now that the sun has come out.

With trips to Bali and Sydney being planned, I am looking forward to my next few months in Australia and seeing what Curtin has to offer!

Oktoberfest

It’s crazy to think I have already been here in Australia for two months now! Time definitely flies when you’re having fun! In this time I have experienced Fremantle, Bali, Oktoberfest, a soccer game and plenty of beach trips, all among endless assignments and dissertation work!

In my first tuition free week my friends and I took a trip to Bali, somewhere I never thought I would have the chance to go to! This was such an amazing experience which we managed to fill with numerous activities in one week. Whilst we were here we managed to go to the monkey forest, beach clubs, Bali swing, Tegenungan Waterfall and in general just relax on the beach. These are memories that I will never forget and ones in which I am so thankful I am to have.

Getting to attend an Oktoberfest event here in which they hold every year was so much fun! I had never been to anything like it before, but it is now something I definitely want to do again! Seeing crowds of people in Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses, all dancing to music and sitting on a swing ride was definitely and experience I will never forget.       

In regards to work, because that’s the sole purpose of me being here, I have experienced more group work than I did at home! This has worked well for me, enabling me to speak to students who actually go this university and aren’t just on exchange. My classes are all split into weekly 2 hour lectures and 1 hour workshops which enables you to apply the information you have learnt in the lectures and discuss any topics you struggled to understand. The units in which I am taking are fairly similar to those at Reading, with Child Development being something we have already done at home it has been interesting in the similarities and differences in the way they teach the material and which aspects they tend to focus on. Here at Curtin they offer a Sports and Exercise Psychology module which I am thoroughly enjoying. This has been a topic I have previously been interested, from being taught in sixth form, but I had not been able to experience this at Reading. Keeping up with my units here and working on my dissertation has been a struggle, but my supervisor, project partner and staff here at Curtin have been really helpful and understanding which made it a lot easier!          

Finally, getting to go to a soccer game here was a highlight of the past month! The weather was amazing which made it even better. The crowd atmosphere was amazing, since I had never attended a sports game at home I thought why not start here? It is definitely something I will be attending again!

With my 21st soon approaching, exam fortnight and numerous trips around Australia, I am sure the remainder of my trip here will provide me with even more amazing memories!

Diving Down Great Barrier Reef

 

The five months I spent studying in Australia at Monash University at the beginning of my 3rd year of a 4-year course was by far the best educational experience I have ever had. While I love studying at Reading University, much like I enjoyed school, there is nothing quite like pairing studying a subject you love with travelling and exploring a country that is as stunning and incredible as Australia.

Studying at a different University was great, I was able to make some amazing, life-long friends both from English university but also from Australia. Monash University was very accommodating to all the study abroad and exchange students. They provided taxi services from the airport to our halls accommodations, they organised many trips throughout the semester to ensure we got to see as much of the local as possible, for example they took us to Phillip Island and to Healsville Sanctuary. They also organised weekly nights out to help us meet other people from different countries. One of the best things, however, was that every Tuesday we got a free coffee/ hot drink if we showed our membership sticker at the café on campus!!

My classes were different to the types of classes I have here at Reading, possibly because I was only studying art at Monash where as I do Art and Psychology at Reading. As apposed to lectures they were more like open spaces to work and ask questions of our teachers. They normally started the classes off with an introduction and some artist inspiration, but we were then allowed to just get on with our work. I do wish I had been allowed to study psychology there as it would have been interesting too see if that is taught/ assessed differently. Thanks to the Imagine funding I was able to purchase all the art supplied I needed to produce the work I wanted to. These included paints, brushes, different types of paper, glass, and a professional print.

In terms of travelling, I feel like I managed to fit a lot onto a short period of time. Rachel, a fellow Reading Student who was also studying abroad at Monash, and I did a lot of travelling together. We managed to visit most of Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania, Cairns, Darwin and I also went to Adelaide and did a tour up through Central Australia to Alice Springs. I have been asked a lot what was my favourite place to visit and I couldn’t possibly answer, however, what I did find incredible was how vast the country was and how every place was so very different, for example going from a city as big and as populated as Melbourne, to Uluru in the desert, to the rainforests near Darwin to diving down to the Great Barrier reef!

I will forever be grateful for this opportunity, it rekindled my desire to explore the world. It also motivated me to come back to Reading and put 110% into my degree as I would love to be able to return there one day. I am so thankful to Reading, my subject departments, the study abroad coordinators and the Imagine funding organisation that made this possible.

Winter is Cold

Melbourne in winter is cold. But if you stand in the intense sunlight, it’s not too bad by my English standards. It hasn’t stopped me, and a group of other exchange students I met, from visiting the beach to enjoy bright vistas, or visiting the zoo to see the kangaroos and koalas first-hand. In fact, our first few weeks here have been very busy, with all of the orientation activities that Monash University planned for us. These included not only information sessions about the university, but also an array of social events.

The nights do feel like winter, with many establishments celebrating ‘Christmas in July’, and in fact the Queen Victoria markets, which we visited in orientation, were putting on an attempt at a Christmas market. It was very festive and cosy and even though it was winter and under a shelter, the Australians were not deterred from barbequing, so it did get a bit smoky! Monash is also in on this BBQ culture, and seems to have one every week on campus, if you are part of one of their many societies.

I have so far tried out the badminton society, which is extremely friendly and enjoyable, and will be joining the ultimate frisbee society next week. I have been told that the frisbee society is especially social, with regular BBQs, hikes and camping trips, so I am looking forward to it. There is also an outdoors society for this kind of thing, which I am hoping will help in my mission to see as much of Australia as I can before my exchange comes to an end. So far, it is going well, but I intend to make plans soon for wider travels. Australia is a big country!

So far I have been very lucky with my travels, as my family has been able to show me around and recommend some places. My cousin has even taken me to see some of Melbourne’s best street art, and Melbourne is a very artistic place. It is also very laid-back and friendly; everyone really is your ‘mate’. I think I will like it here.

MADA, or Monash Art, Design and Architecture, runs quite differently to the art department in Reading. You can choose elective units from anywhere in the department, if you’re an art student like I am, or from anywhere in the university, if you’re from a different Reading department, I believe. This allows us to be exposed to a range of different skills! I am learning about photography, illustration, coding, and film. So I will have no problem filling my time with assignments, as well as with all of the travelling I intend to do. Time is going by so quickly!

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