Tiina from Finland: Last thoughts about my Australian experience

Hi there, how’s it going? I hope all of you have had a fabulous Christmas time and relaxing holidays so far. I thought I would share a few last thoughts with you before my time at the USC is officially over.

When I first arrived in Australia and met new local people, they would always ask me how long I had been in Australia for/how long I was going to stay. I would reply with an “oh just arrived a couple of weeks ago/not sure how long I will stay…”. Today, I reply just as casually saying I’ve been here for half a year, without really realising it – it feels like I only arrived yesterday! It only hit me a couple of days ago when I was having a conversation with my housemate that I have actually really spent already half a year in Australia. Where did all those months go?! As for the other question, I am still not sure how long I will be here for altogether, but I know it is going to be quite a while. I just love this country, all the people, culture, lifestyles, attitudes… It is so amazing I decided to do a Working Holiday in Australia – starting with a year but making sure I secure the possibility for a 2nd year visa as well…

I was fortunate to have the possibility to spend Christmas with a “true blue” Australian family, thanks to the bilateral exchange program between my home university and the USC. The mother of the family, also a student at the USC, had spent an exchange semester at my uni a year ago, and when I was chosen to come to Australia, my uni put me in contact with her. It was honestly the most interesting Christmas I have ever had, and very lovely at that: BBQ for tea on Christmas eve, champagne & eggs benedict for brekkie, and lunch (with pudding as dessert) in bright sunlight on the veranda on Christmas day, all of this followed by a swim in the ocean in the afternoon…

For all of you Australian/warm-country readers: Christmas back home in Finland looks completely different, a year ago we had -30 C degrees on Christmas day and everything was covered with snow. We usually go into the sauna in the morning (special for Christmas only – otherwise you usually go to the sauna in the evening) and have a light lunch, usually rice porridge, and then following the tradition bring some candles to the graves of deceased loved ones; Christmas day is reserved for lots and lots of good food and cozy family get-together. That is also one more difference between the Australian and Finnish Christmas: traditionally, ours is strictly reserved for the family, and you meet your friends either before or after Christmas, whereas in Australia, Christmas is more for your friends as well. Santa Claus (who comes from Lapland in Finland, by the way – not from the North Pole!!) also visits us already on Christmas eve; in Australia you get your presents on Christmas morning.

I am a little sad that I have to leave the USC now, I have had such a great exchange semester here and met a lot of new people and gained a lot of great experiences. I am grateful though that I do not have to leave Australia yet but can continue my Australian experience doing a Working Holiday. I am sure there will be many more fabulous moments to come.

I wish you all a very happy New Year and good luck with your studies! Again many thanks to all of you for being there and making this exchange as amazing as it has been. If you are a prospective new/international student, I can only recommend the USC – I am sure you will not regret it!

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