So I was lucky enough to be offered an exchange at the University of Adelaide in Australia for the first Semester of my final year of my BSc Population and Geography degree at the University of Southampton. Firstly I was apprehensive of accepting this and was therefore choosing between Adelaide and Amsterdam (very different I know). This was mainly due to the distance and more predominantly the expense of the flights and living costs but I bit the bullet and went for it and I am seriously so thankful I did and I cannot recommend the University or doing an exchange in Australia enough. Not only does it not always rain like England but their culture, whilst similar to British, is very outgoing, friendly and also very multicultural which is great!
As Australias term timetable is different to the UK I left in early July last year and had finished my exams by the end of November. This meant that after finishing my second year exams it was a quick turn around before I headed off. I am quite a confident person but I will admit I was very nervous on my 30 hour journey out to the unknown. Upon arrival I had a man waiting for me from the University with my name on a sign (I’ve literally always wanted that to happen so it was great) and he drove me in a very swanky car to my booked accommodation, Urbanest, free of charge. Arriving at my new home for 6 months was very daunting, particularly considering it was right in the city centre and was an extremely tall building but I settled in so quickly and met many friends on the first day from all over the world. That really is one of the best things I have taken away from my experience is gaining life long friends and contacts where I learnt different languages, cultures and foods and I now have places to visit all over the world!
The University held an ‘O week’ (Orientation Week) where you have activities, campus and library tours and introductory lectures on all sorts from life at University to the Australian culture (where we even were given their famous vegemite to sample). This was a great week to gently ease yourself into the University and get your bearings on your surroundings, plus on the last day there was an organised day trip where I met my first kangaroo!
The University itself is incredible, with great facilities from toastie makers to make your lunch with to TV’s showing you all the different queues at all the printers!! Its quite a small University which I found lovely as it had an extremley homely atmosphere with such beautiful buildings and green areas. Also one thing I was not expecting was so many freebies including a weekly ‘breakfast club’ two days a week where you help yourself to cereals, toast, fruit, cheese toasties, drinks and so much more all for free!! The copious amounts of free events, particularly the famous Aussie BBQ’S, held at the University and accommodation really helped with my budgeting as my food shops were so small which balanced out with the reasonably pricey accommodation.
They have such a good support system for international students and they put on so many events throughout the term including a weekly morning tea, nights out and day trips through the ‘ESN Adelaide network’. ESN Adelaide also has a ‘buddy’ system where you have the option to have a buddy, giving you someone at the University to meet up with and show you around, which was great to have! I was also lucky enough to take part in a program they run called ‘Experience Adelaide’ where you are matched up with a local couple or family and the aim is for them to welcome you to the city and show you around. I was matched with a lovely retired lady who welcomed me with BBQ’s at her home with friends and took me and my friend on a day trip along the coast line to all the beaches and famous spots. It is such a great program and I am still in contact with my match now, so its definitely something to get involved in if you go to Adelaide. On top of all of this there is a ‘Study Adelaide’ government program that arrange free events to submerge you into the culture such as a free wine tasting evenings and Aussie rules football!!
The teaching style and layout was pretty similar to the UK, the only thing I would say is they are a bit more ‘online’ where some weeks I had online learning modules of online lectures and discussion boards, weekly online tests and for one of my group assessments we had to create a video to present. I did have a small problem with matching a compulsory statistics module I had to take as part of my course requirements as Adelaide has a more mathematical approach than Southampton’s social scientist approach but with support from both Universities I was soon moved to a more suitable module. This was a little stressful as I ended up being behind in the module, but deadlines were extended for me and it didn’t take long to catch up with support!
To get an insight into the University of Adelaide you can watch their recent promotion video of their upcoming Open Day, I also managed to feature in it too! I would recommend having a look through their Instagram account as its full of lots of content to show you the University.
Another thing to mention is that if anyone is worried about their Dissertations if you are like me undertaking a semester abroad in their final year, it is not as daunting as it seems. I arranged regular Skype calls with my supervisor and everything went well. The only thing I would mention is to factor in that forms and inception reports for dissertations may be due in at a similar time to when you will be doing your exams in Adelaide but with planning this is no problem!
One perk was that as the term finished earlier than Southampton’s I was able to get in some travelling with all my University friends I had made. It is such a beautiful country to travel around particulary as it was then their Summer so I was able to enjoy Christmas day sunbathing and seeing New Year in watching the iconic Sydney fireworks! Alongside this you have a two week ‘spring break’ so there is a great opportunity to travel alongside your studies. My friend made a video of a road trip I went on in my Spring break to the East Coast with a group of English, Belgians, Canadians and Swiss friends.
A lot of you are probably thinking, will I get homesick? I was worried about this as I come from a large family but you are so busy submerging yourself into a new culture and University that I was too distracted to think this. The only thing that I found was that due to the luggage weight restriction you are not able to bring many homely things like photo frames etc for your room. So my extremely modern room with ridiculous amounts of storage started off looking very bare which was a tad sad but I soon added to it with all my collection of adventures during my exchange.
I really could write a whole Dissertation on my experience in Adelaide but I think I better wrap this up. I am probably bias but I honestly can’t recommend Adelaide enough (and any studying abroad in fact), it is such a beautiful city, not too big but not too small and has such a friendly community. It is surrounded by beautiful nature with wineries, coastline and the bush and it also has a River going right through the city providing lovely walks which the University is right next to! Also don’t be scared about the crazy wildlife, apart from one run in with a snake I was absolutely fine!! And just a heads up the homesickness is worse when you return from your semester abroad than it is when you are there…trust me.
If anyone has any questions regarding my exchange and the University of Adelaide I would be more than happy to answer them so please do post comments on this blog or drop me an email.
Enjoy every minute, say yes to everything and good luck!!