Hi, my name is Amy and I’m from Germany, but my home university is the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. I’m currently doing a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, however at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), I am completing a Business Diploma in one semester.
Coming to Australia, I had many expectations about what I would see and do, but I was also surprised by several things. For example the high grocery prices, the cold nights in the beginning, but also the amazing cheap sushi and how helpful everyone is. I was not expecting to have that many assignments in the beginning, however, I then found out later I didn’t have any exams! Nevertheless, I was able to tick so many things off my Australia bucket list, mainly because I was able to take some amazing long weekend trips, which I will be giving some tips for here.
My main recommendations are the big cities in the South East of Australia: Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. All offer great nightlife, and culture, but also beautiful nature which is very easily reachable from the city. If you don’t have a lot of time, going to Brisbane even just for a good night out can be worthwhile. You will be there after 2 hours on the train and can get away with a pretty cheap weekend away.
Sydney is a little further away and definitely more expensive. However you really have to visit the city at some point even if it’s only for the famous sights like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Sydney has so much more to offer though, for example the large amount of great Asian food and amazing bars. If you have time you can go whale watching or escape the bustle at Bondi Beach or Manly Island, as well as the beautiful Botanical Gardens. For both Sydney and Melbourne, I would recommend taking a free walking tour on the first day, as your guide will give you many helpful tips and you will also be able to decide which part of the city you are most interested in afterwards.
Melbourne is slightly further away, but also cheaper once you get there. It’s known for its amazing coffee culture, and more alternative culture, in addition to being crowned as the most liveable city of the world (until Vienna overtook it last year). It also has a great tram network, which is free in the centre of the city. If you have more time there are many amazing things to do and see around Melbourne as well, such as visiting Phillip Island, Wilsons Promontory National Park, the Grampian Mountains, or the Peninsula Hot Springs. You could even do a road trip from Melbourne via the scenic Great Ocean Road.
There are also many more great weekend trips you can do whilst studying at USC. Going to Fraser Island was probably one the most exciting things I experienced while I was here, because you get to drive over the beach and through bumpy inland roads that you can only access with a 4WD vehicle. Whether you love cities or nature, Australia has something to offer for everyone and you’ll definitely be able to find some time off from your studies to experience it with your new mates.
– Amy Zahn @littlebirdyinatree