Sun, ‘roos and BBQs: Why you should study abroad in Australia next year
Heaps of reasons to rip down to ‘Straya
Ah yes, Australia. The land of blazing sun, kangaroos and everyday barbecues. Here is a list of reasons you should consider an exchange semester or year in Australia. This list is based on my experience studying for a year at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
You get to study at another uni. IN AUSTRALIA.
Obvious, I know, but let’s start at the basics. First and foremost you’re here to study, right? So you’ll also need to get used to a new campus, a new city and new education system. For instance, UQ’s campus is huge compared to Sussex. With 36,000 students compared to Sussex’s 14,000, it’s only natural that the campus is enormous. Just remember to make enough time to get to your next class as you’ll be doing heaps of walking.
The uni system in Australia is quite different to that of the UK, but it’s something that doesn’t take long to get used to. You have 4 modules (or ‘courses’ as they’re called here) per semester (they don’t say ‘term’), each of which is equally weighted (as opposed to 30 and 15 credit modules). In your courses you might have more frequent work than in the UK, but each assignment ends up counting for less as a result. Think of this as an opportunity to study subjects you wish you might have taken. Whether that’s marine biology or music, this is your chance.
You’ll pick up a lot of cool Aussie slang
Depending on how Aussie the Aussies you meet are, you might find yourself having to decipher the lingo more often than not. Flip-flops are thongs, a swimsuit is a cozzie, “you’re welcome” is “no worries”, and “g’day”… well no-one actually says that. Australians also love to abbreviate everything. Other common examples:
- Servo = service station (petrol station)
- Bottle-o = bottle shop (where you buy alcohol)
- Tute = tutorial
- “S’garnon?” = “what is going on?” (i.e. “how are you?”)
- “How are ya going?” = “how’s it going?”
- Arvo = afternoon
- Stubbie = beer bottle
- Ripper = fantastic
- “Yeah, nah…” = how Aussies disagree with people
- Dero = derelict, trashy
- Devo = devastated
- Deso = designated driver
- Brissy = Brisbane
- ‘Straya = Australia
- Bogan = redneck, country folk
Day-to-day conversation becomes a lot more fun when you abbreviate everything, especially when you start making your own abbreviations and Aussie slang…suddenly, when you want to have an avocado this afternoon, you’ll say “avanavo s’arvo” (yes, really).
Perfecting your best bogan impression is a must as well. Starting with singlet, shorts and thongs is essential. After that, be as incoherent as possible by using only abbreviations and your thickest ‘Strayan accent.
You’ll have time to travel to places you never thought you’d go
Halfway through each semester, you’ll get a week-long break which is a great reason to travel in Australia or abroad. On top of that, if you study abroad for a year, you’ll also get a 3 month long summer break from November to February. With so much free time, you’ll have the chance to go on some hectic trips in Australia or in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia or New Zealand!
For my first mid-semester break, I went on an insane trip to New Zealand with 3 great guys from 3 different countries. That was one more country to check off the list. In the Aussie summer break, I went backpacking for a month in Southeast Asia, stopping in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. Honestly, I never imagined myself travelling there, yet there I was having the time of my life and creating some interesting memories to last a lifetime. In the last mid-semester break, a few friends and I rented a campervan and toured pretty much the whole of Tasmania, camping in forests and by the beach. In short: you’ll probably have the best travel experiences you’ve ever had if you come here.
You can work and earn some nice $$$
“Work??”, I hear you say – but bear with me. If you come for a year, you’ll have a lot of free time come the summer break. If you’re keen to make some mula, or just want to add something to your CV, get searching as there will be plenty of work opportunities for students like you.
It’s a fact that Australians have a very good standard of living, supported by fairly high wages. Working as a lifeguard at a pool in Brisbane earned me almost double what I might get in the UK per working hour. Your student visa will allow you to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the semester, and unlimited hours during the holidays. Generally speaking, expect to earn more dollar for the same work you might be used to back home.
You’ll make many strong friendships (and maybe more)
What would a year abroad be without friends to enjoy it with? Making friends while on exchange is possibly the easiest thing you will ever do. You’re all in the same boat, having travelled thousands of miles to get there and not having a clue what to do next. Using Facebook groups to organise meet-ups in the first week, as well as attending the exchange student society’s awesome events will help you establish friendships faster than you can say “didgeridoo”.
You’ll travel together, go to class together, go out together, and overall have some interesting memories together. With the amount of nationalities you’ll come across, don’t be surprised if you learn some phrases in a new language. Or five. Plus, you’ll have lots more reasons to visit new countries as you know there will be someone to welcome you there.
You can barbecue almost any day of the year
In Australia, a barbecue (or ‘barbie’) is a must-have. Combining the good weather, good friends, and good food is a fantastic way to spend your Sunday afternoon. Though Australia may be renowned for its meat pies and fish & chips, the barbie is where all the best food memories are made, so come chuck a snag on the grill and make some sausage sangas. Combine a flaming barbie with a refreshing home swimming pool and you’ve got enough social leverage to round up a solid posse of mates. Also, your shopping list will start to revolve a lot more around what you think you can toss on the barbie, using every excuse to fire the thing up and crack open some stubbies.
Sport is HUGE
Sport is a big part of Aussie culture, whether it’s watching it or playing it. Rugby league (or ‘footy’ as it’s called in Queensland) is one of the most watched. The teams are good, the matches are fantastic and the fans are devoted.
Aussie rules football is confusingly also sometimes known as ‘footy’, but is a different game altogether. Though it’s more popular in Victoria than in Queensland, AFL is still a fast-paced game of strength, agility and stamina.
Soccer is not as popular as Rugby or AFL, as shown by the difference in crowd sizes. However, the matches are still pretty good and the atmosphere is great. It also helps that you probably won’t need to look up the rules for this sport.
Exchange students party hard
As an exchange student, you’ll want to make the most of your time down under. Best practice? Join your uni’s exchange student society which will enable you to meet hundreds of fellow exchangees from around the world. They also organise parties, unique events, weekend or week-long trips and give you a good reason to ‘get loose’ as they say. Nights out with them are also dead cheap, with lots of drinks, discounts, and free entry to clubs which would normally put a serious dent in your finances. I have plenty of memories (and lack of memories) because of these hectic times, so make sure you go out there and meet new people.
The iconic Aussie animals
We all need to take a study break every now and then, and what better way to relax than getting face-to-face with some weird-looking animals. Here there are wildlife sanctuaries where you can actually hold an koala. I REPEAT: YOU CAN HOLD A KOALA. What’s more is you can also feed and interact with kangaroos, wallabies and other cute creatures. This will provide you with the opportunity to take those ever-important profile pictures to make your mates back home eternally jealous. Now if that isn’t enough to get you to fill in that study abroad application form, then I don’t know what is.
The glorious, glorious weather
Though not all of Australia is always scorching, living in Queensland will change the way you think about heat. We’re talking 38ºC+ summers with air so humid, you could almost swim in it. Once you get out of summer though, things cool down slightly but you still get plenty of lovely sunny days. I almost don’t like to talk about winter here because it’s still pretty warm, usually 20-30ºC. It’s amazing just how much time you can spend outdoors when you have the right climate. Definitely one of the best things about living here. Just make sure your air conditioning is working or that you have enough fans at home. Trust me, waking up and feeling like a baked potato every morning is not the way to live.