Category Archives: Studying Down-Under

In February 2017, I did the best thing I’ve ever done- I left everything I called home and flew to Brisbane, Australia for five months. Here, I share my journey with you, plus lots of info and tips for anyone considering studying abroad.

A month being back home

It’s been four weeks and four days since I arrived back from my travels down-under and can honestly say like the duration of the trip did, it’s FLOWN by. 

It’s been non-stop since I got back home. Within a few short days of being home I was back to work flogging shoes I couldn’t afford- as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Australia kinda broke the bank. 

I was honestly so excited be home, to see my family and get back to my normal life, (what’s normal?) that it was almost like my time in Australia ceased to exist. It was like all the adventures and travels were just dreams, and the friends I made were just characters of my imagination. It was like I never left. 

This is not the emotional response I was expecting- no ‘reverse culture shock’ and no miserable days wishing I was back in Brissy on a beach somewhere. 

Instead, I’m full of energy and more motivated than ever. I‘ve come to appreciate my hometown I so frequently whined about (apart from the weather of course) and of course my friends and family. 

Despite this overwhelming exitement for life I have at the moment, Australia will always have a peice of my heart. I feel so grateful and humbled to have experienced what I have, seen the breathtaking things I’ve seen and made the fantastic friends I have. Being away from everything I knew in what felt like another world, has tought me the world is much bigger than the bubble I previously inhabited.

And obviously, like all students who travel do, I’ve ‘found myself’. Not really…but I feel a little closer to doing so. 

Fire in my belly

On my first day at university I was told that to be a journalist, I needed fire in my belly, I needed something that gets me going, an axe to grind (I could keep going with the metaphors).  I never really knew what this meant, or where this fire would come from. It had me question if I was going in to the right profession.

Until now.

On Sunday April 23rd, I was on a flight back from Adelaide to Brisbane after a phenomenal week words can’t really describe. I was sat in the window seat.  I looked out of the tiny plane window, 30,000 ft or so above the ground. The view was spectacular. Dusk was drawing in and the clouds were orange and pink.

I felt so humbled, as I realised how unbelievably fortunate I am to have the life I do. I have a home, a family, an education, a dog… and everything else. These are things I often take for granted, and forget how privileged I truly am- others are a lot less fortunate.  At this point, I decided I was no longer going to live my life solely in the pursuit of ‘me’ and that I want to do something positive, simply because I have the ability to do so and have absolutely no reason not to.

I finally have the fire in my belly- the feeling that I can help or do something good for this world.

For me, that’s what journalism is about.

View from the plane
I know this isn’t a great quality picture by any means, but it reminds me of the moment I realised who I want to be.  23/04/ 17

 

Working in Oz- The Basics

Lets be real, Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in (6th most expensive to be exact, according to Numbeo).

I won’t argue with Numbeo, it is not cheap here.  The most frustrating thing for me, is all those little things I used take for granted being cheap, like cleaning products and toiletries are AN ABSOLUTE RIP OFF HERE.

In the UK I can go to B&M, Home Bargains or even a supermarket and get all my basic things for under a tenna- well not here.

In saying that, there are discount stores here in Australia where you can get your mits on some bargains, but you kind of have to go out of your way to find them, instead of just picking a few bits and bobs up from a supermarket.

It might not seem like a massive deal at the time when you’re grabbing stuff, but believe me it totts up!

So, with this in mind, it may be a good idea to get a job if you’re planning coming here for longer than a holiday.

Here are some things to consider:

Check what you’re visa allows you to work (you can get in A LOT of trouble if you don’t stick to this). So if you’re studying abroad, or on a working holiday visa, CHECK what rules and restrictions apply to your visa.  If you’re visa application is successful, you will receive confirmation of this which will include all working restrictions. You can check out different kinds of visas here.

Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN). This is really easy to do, you can just apply online or go into a Post Office and make an appointment. You need this number so you can be taxed (may/may not  be taxed depending on your visa) and so the Tax Office know what you’re being paid (obviously).

Have a banging CV ready. The easiest kind of work to get into is waittressing in bars, restaurants and cafes. Having experience in that line of work would definitely work in your favour, so make sure it’s on your CV!

Try and line something up BEFORE you go. Probably the best piece of advice. It’s not always possible to do, but give it a whirl. Once you know where you’re going to be living etc, sniff around for vacancies near by. A really good site to use is Zippity. You can create a CV and ‘drop it’ to different employers in an area you choose.

Simples.

 

 

 

 

 

“Nothing new grows in the comfort zone”

Before I went to university, I felt like I wasn’t cut out to be a student, I wasn’t confident enough, and I wasn’t smart enough. But I decided I was going to break out of my comfort zone and go to uni- and I’m so glad I did!

The same thoughts echoed in my head when I was planning on studying abroad. This made me think, if I did it once, I can do it again!

So when it came to studying abroad, I was back and forth with the idea for months, almost a year actually. One part of me was craving adventure and change, and the other clinging on to the comfort of home and my family.

However, my excitement and curiosity for something new outweighed my fear of missing home. After all, home will still be there when I get back. However, the opportunity of being in another country for a few months, as a student, was a once in a life-time experience.

I have been here in Australia for 11 weeks exactly today and I go home in 9 weeks tomorrow.

Time really does fly. I am excited to go home, but at the same time I don’t want to ever leave.

Being here has taught me SO much. I’ve learnt to be myself more. Being in a totally different environment like this has made me realise things I never could before. I feel more independent and I genuinely see the world differently (I know this must sound cheesy, but it’s honest). 

I’ve seen and done some unforgettable things so far, that I never thought I would.

So, if you’re thinking of studying abroad, I say do it.

If you want to do it, and it works for you financially and educationally, why not?

Life is short- make the most of it.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Signs you know Australia too well

So I’ve been here for over two months now, and I’m starting to feel like a proper local Queenslander! It’s amazing how different Oz is to the UK, even though England is it’s ‘motherland’, if you like. From its exotic wildlife, to its stunning sites and beaches, Australia really has taken my heart.

Here are my top 10 signs I’ve been here too long…

  1. I’m used to hearing ‘bloody’ this and ‘bloody’ that- I’m from Yorkshire, so the hearing the term ‘bloodyhell’ doesn’t come as a surprise to me, but the Aussies use it an awful lot!
  2. I HATE Translink- it’s the most irritating form of public transport I’ve ever had to use.
  3. Instead of ‘thanks’, I’m pretty much always saying ‘cheers’, adding in ‘mate’ every now and then.
  4. I have learnt to love a good old ‘goon bag’.
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    My lovely friend Jenna with a goon bag (a bag of cheap wine in a box)
  5. I’m used to nowhere having bloody WIFI.
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    A rather true but irritating sign my friend Allie snapped while we were in Alice Springs
  6. A koala is not a bear.
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    A cute little fella I saw at the Koala Bear Sanctuary in Brisbane
  7. ‘Just down the road’ isn’t actually just down the road- it’s miles away.
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    A nice pic I took whilst we were driving on the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne
  8. I’ve eaten so many TimTams I can’t bear the sight of them anymore.
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    My once fave flavour of TimTams until I got sick of them!
  9. I’ve accepted the fact Australia is so much more expensive than home and given up complaining about it.
  10. I know I’m being annoying when me and my friends want to pay separately when we eat out- it’s such a big deal for most places here.

I hope these signs made you laugh! If you ever come to Australia or already have been, you will know EXACTLY what I mean!

Home-Sweet-Homesickness

Moving away from home for a few months sounds terrifying, yet exciting. Many peoples’ fear of studying abroad is leaving their loved ones, friends, and mostly- their pets.

And I’ll be honest, I felt the same.

Before leaving rainy England, as much as I was thrilled to go and live the dream down-under, I was dreading being away from everything I love for five months.

I remember parting from my family and my boyfriend, just before entering security at Manchester Airport, and being a blubbering mess.

I could barely breathe as I handed my passport over to one of the airport staff.

My mouth was dry, and my face wet with tears.

As I waved goodbye to my family on the other side of security, I thought, “come on Xanthe get yourself together”.

All the time I spent convincing my parents I should study abroad, carefully planning it out and filling in paperwork were not going to be for me to feel sad- not one bit.

I fixed myself up, and proceeded through security, and eventually, onto the plane.

We’ll skip talking about the twenty-three-hour flight to Brisbane- it gets a bit boring. Let’s jump to me arriving to my accommodation two days later (it was actually only 23 hours travelling but because of the time difference I arrived two days later).

For the first few days, I felt confused and out of place, occasionally crying.

I slept quite a lot too, probably because of the jetlag and the fact that sleeping let my brain rest from feeling weird.

This does sound quite depressing; however, I must add this bamboozled feeling was only very brief.

I can honestly say, within five days or so I was feeling a million times better.

I was so shocked with how good I felt.

Within a short space of time, I was out and about with my roommates who I became good friends with, exploring what South Bank had to offer.

All my worries kind of melted away, I enjoyed not knowing what was round the corner (literally and metaphorically)- that’s the best part.

So, here’s the helpful part- I FEARED homesickness, more than I was actually homesick.

And the chances are, it will be the same for you too.

It’s just the fear of change, the fear of not knowing what’s next.

Don’t get me wrong, it might take a few days or a week or so to get over that initial feeling- but have patience, because you will.

Of course, you will miss home, no doubt about it.

You’ll miss the little things, but just remember this is a once in a lifetime experience, you probably won’t get again.

So take advantage of the freedom without worrying about home, because home will still be there when you get back and all those little things, will be right where you left them.

Don’t doubt your adaptability- you will be very surprised at what you can do.

 

 

 

 

Public Transport in Queensland Explained

BusGetting to grips with public transport can be confusing at the best of times, even more so when you’re in an unfamiliar place- Australia’s transport system is no exception.

However, if you’re from London or ever travelled in London, this should make a little more sense.

Like the pre-paid ‘Oyster’ card in London, Queensland has the same thing and it’s called a ‘Go Card’.

It’s a good idea to get your mits on one of these cards as soon as you arrive, and start saving!

Being a student, you’re entitled to concession prices, which should be 50% cheaper than adult fares. However, this isn’t always the case- me and my friends have sometimes been charged completely different prices for the exact same journey which us nor Translink can understand why.

As soon as you get a student card from your university, you can apply online for cheaper fares on the Translink website.

Once you have a Go Card, you’re ready to go

You simply ‘tap on’ and ‘tap off’ the train, ferry or bus on using a scanner on board or outside the train station.

TIP: Don’t forget to tap on and off every time, if you don’t you can get charged so watch out for that, because it’s really annoying when you do.

Like most public transport, there is a journey planner service available on their website and app, so you can plan how to get from A to B.

Or, if you’re like me and don’t have enough memory in your phone for any more apps, you can ‘Google-maps’ it, which is just as easy.

I hope this is helpful- it’s always handy to know about the transport in your city to help you arrange travelling and those beach trips you definitely won’t skip class to go on…

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A nice photo at Snapper Rocks 🙂

Studying Abroad in Australia- Student Accommodation or Homestay? Take Your pick!

 

There’s lots of things to plan before you study abroad. One of things you should consider plenty of time in advance is accommodation.

Figuring out where you want to live for a few months in another country does sounds scary- but it’s really not that bad.

I’ll break down the main options to make it simple, there are two main types:

  1. Student Accommodation (This would be my preference)

This is probably what you’re already used to if you are a second or third year student. Student accommodation buildings are usually pretty big, so there’ll be lots of other students there you can make friends with. They are usually in the city too which can be handy to getting around. Plus, big universities are usually near city centres so that means less travelling which is great for getting to class.

There are different kinds of apartments in these buildings, like shared rooms, or en-suites, that kind of thing. If you want to save some dollar for extra travelling when you’re in Oz, you might want to look into sharing an apartment, as these can be a fair bit cheaper!

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Student accommodation example (outside view)
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Student accommodation example (inside view)

Click here to search for student accommodation in Australia

2. Home Sweet Home-stay

Homestay is when you pay a local family to live with them for a set period. As you can imagine, homestay experiences can vary quite a lot, depending on the people you live with and their homes.

This can be the best/worst part about homestay- you don’t know for sure what it’s going to be like. You could get on well with your homestay family, or not so well. But don’t let that thought put you off, homestay families WANT someone to come and stay with them, which is why they do it. It’s just something to bear in mind.

With homestay, you aren’t restricted to either rural or urban areas as people offer the homes up to students all over. So, you have more choice of whether you want to live in the heart of the city, or somewhere more rural.

With some families, you can arrange a meal plan. This way, you pay them a bit extra to cook for you (you can arrange how many days a week for example). This would save a lot of cooking and is just easier than cooking yourself.

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Homestay housing example
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Homestay housing example

Click here to search for homestay options in Australia

Some tips to deciding on where to stay:

  • Consider BOTH types of housing, so you know what other options you have
  • Think carefully about pricing- e can you afford an en-suite with a double bed? If not, look into single-bed shared apartments
  • Have a chat with parents, friends and your study abroad advisor from either your home university or one you’re thinking of going to
  • Take your time- don’t rush into making a decision too soon. Just have a look around and have a think about it
  • Most importantly, don’t worry! There are honestly so many places to choose from, there will always be somewhere available

 

To help understand the difference between the two options, have a look at this table!

Homestay

Student Accommodation
You don’t tend to live with other students, so It can make it harder to make new friends You get to meet lots of new people
Food can be included (which you do pay more for), which saves you cooking! You cook your own meals and buy your own groceries
Usually cheaper More expensive
Possibly more restricted i.e coming in late at night, house rules etc. Freedom to come and go whenever you please
If there’s any issues, you speak to your homestay family/ person There’s normally 24 hour security, so there’s always someone to go to
Good for solo travelling Good for doing things in groups

I hope this blog is helpful, if so please like and comment any questions below – thank you 🙂

 

A month in Australia

So today is officially my month ‘anniversary’ being down under.

Travelling from the UK to Oz was quite a painless experience to my surprise, despite it taking twenty four hours to get here.

I think the flow of free drinks, having my own screen in front of me with so many films and programmes to pick from and the NICE plane food, made the journey pretty good.

Needless to say I would 100% recommend flying with Emirates, their economy feels like business class compared to other airlines!

I landed in Brisbane, Australia at around 7.30 AM on the February 9 where I was picked up at the airport by a ‘Royale’ limousine as they call them here (not a limo, a fancy taxi)- paid for by my Australian university.

When I first arrived, every hour felt like it was dragging and the thought of being here for twenty one weeks was quite overwhelming.

The first few days I found myself sat on my bed feeling confused as to what to do with myself, and had very little appetite.

But, I would say within a matter of a week, or maybe less, I was settled in pretty well.

Before I knew it I was out with my new friends in search of Australian cuisine and adventure- and I haven’t really looked back.

I made some awesome new friends from my accommodation, who so far I have shared some amazing moments with, which I won’t forget and am so grateful for.

I feel like I’ve packed a life-time of experience into the space of a few weeks!

It’s like I’ve been on holiday since I arrived- definitely  not a bad thing!

Here’s some of the things I have done so far I can now confidently tick off my mental bucket list that I never thought I would be able to:

  • I held a koala, called Cinnamon (and I love cinnamon)
  • I stoked a kangaroo
  • I skydived (still can’t believe I did it)
  • I went kayaking
  • I tried, to surf
  • I went to the Sydney Opera house (sad I didn’t see 42 Wallaby Way though)
  • I have stayed in two hostels (this was a big deal for me)
  • I went to the famous Australia Zoo

I’ve done loads of other cool stuff too, but these were the main ones.

As much as I love being here and doing all the amazing things I’m doing, I do miss home, my family, my boyfriend and my dog- a lot.

But hey, life’s short, before I know it I’ll be back in my hometown complaining about the weather etc- so I intend to make the most of this time.