Eike Stau from the University of Regensburg in Germany studying at USC Sunshine Coast

Hi, my name is Eike and I usually study political science in Regensburg, Germany. pic1However, I am currently studying at USC as an international student. But now that my semester abroad is coming to an end it is time for a little review.

During my preparations for the semester, the search for an apartment was of course at the top of my list. Fortunately, there are quite reasonably-priced accommodations in the immediate vicinity of the university. Of course, you can also live elsewhere in Sippy Downs, where my campus is located, or even closer to the ocean, e. g. Mooloolaba. Nevertheless, the accommodations right next to the university are very suitable for a single semester abroad.

The Orientation Week, where the university has a large presence and provides great offers especially for international students, started quite quickly. Right at the beginning we were invited to a bus tour where the USC ambassadors showed us the area and gave us tips on restaurants, clubs, activities and must-sees. Since this event was for internationals only, the uncertainty was clearly visible among the majority of the people, as most of us came to Australia alone. However, since practically everyone was in the same situation, with a little openness one quickly found new friends. And the same people are still my friends now. In addition, we have already begun to think about when, where, and how to meet again after our time at USC.

In general, USC’s staff is very helpful. Whether the International Office, Student Central or the individual lecturers, there is always someone with “an open ear” for problems or difficulties. There are no stupid questions. The campus is located in the middle of a nature reserve, you can see many different animals, from the smallest birds to sunbathing kangaroos, and USC is modern and digital – you feel at home. The course structure is different here than at my university in Regensburg. While at home, I have to do a great deal of work, usually a long essay after the actual semester, whilst here I have to do up to three smaller things during the current semester. How one evaluates the particular system is left to everyone.

But now to the actual reason why you do such a semester – travelling. Since we are here on the Sunshine Coast, there are many different things you can do. One must have visited the Australia Zoo. On the one hand, you can see all the animals we don’t really know in Europe. Some animals I’ve never seen before. In addition, you can take a picture with a koala on your arm – and you should, if you’re willing to pay almost $30, definitely do that! You can also pet and feed kangaroos, which you should only do in the Zoo. Furthermore, I’ve visited so many different beaches! Of course, you should try to surf at pic3least once. My attempts were not blessed with too much luck, but practice makes perfect (I guess). Most beaches are easy to reach by bus. Even if public transport was not quite ideal for me as a European, it is perfectly all right – You get from A to B.

Beside the zoo and the beaches, there are numerous other things that can be seen in the area, like waterfalls or national parks. On weekends, when you have a little more time than during the week, it is a good idea to plan 1-2 day trips. For example, you can go to Brisbane or Fraser Island. In my semester break, I was able to make a longer trip with my friends. We drove with the car of a friend on one of the best road trips I have ever had north towards Whitsundays. When we arrived there, we went on a boat for several days and drove around the different islands, visited Whitehaven Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches there is, and were diving in the Great Barrier Reef. This was by far one of the most special holidays I have ever had and which I will never forget. That is something I can recommend to anyone! At the end I will spend another week in Sydney after the semester ended, before I go back home again.

Overall, I had a great time at USC and generally here in Australia. I found good friends, had lots of fun and was able to see a lot. I am incredibly grateful for the experience I have had here!

– Eike Stau

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