Hey everyone, we are Angelina and Kim from Germany exploring our semester abroad together at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Both of us are from Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, but here at USC we are doing a Diploma in Business, which covers the business part in our Industrial Engineering studies at home.
Right now, we are already in the final stages of our semester abroad facing our final exams soon, which unfortunately means that our time in Australia is almost over.
We have enjoyed the semester very much so far and would like to share our experiences with you!
The journey from Germany to Australia was not really comfortable as one of us flew 22 hours via Abu Dhabi and the other one 26 hours via Dubai – but it’s totally worth it! We already booked a shuttle from Brisbane airport to our apartment in Mooloolaba in advance, which made the arrival quite easy. For the first week, we only booked an AirBnB accommodation to look for cheaper and more central alternatives to the student accommodations. Fortunately, the owner of the AirBnB referred us to an Australian lady who has been renting two rooms in her apartment for years, which just happened to be free and ready for us – as if she had just been waiting for us.
Our life in Australia
Together we are staying in a resort in Minyama, right next to the Kawana Shoppingworld and just a 5-minute walk from the beach, with a fantastic view! Living with an elderly Australian roommate also gave us several advantages as she could give us recommendations in any form. For example, she helped us find cheap car mechanics, recommended local restaurants, and sights. She also introduced us to many Australians and other internationals who told us interesting stories about why and how they moved to Australia and what to consider.
At first we didn’t even think about buying a car for just one semester, but as time went on and we settled, we realized how big the country really is and that you often have to travel long distances to get to the places you would like to see.
There were a few things we had to consider when buying a car, here are the most important tips:
- There are several Facebook groups for backpacker cars that are ready to use.
- Keep in mind that you are registered with the student visa in Queensland and therefore need a Queensland registration.
- Before buying the vehicle, you should have it checked by a mechanic and make sure that it has RWC (Roadworthy Certificate).
- 4WD vehicles are always a good idea in a country with many rural areas 😉
We have tried to use the weekends as efficiently as possible by driving to the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, National Parks, Hervey Bay, Brisbane, Rainbow Beach and many other areas. During the semester, we were able to make many affordable weekend trips and meet many interesting people at the campsites for chats and BBQs.
Also, here we have some tips:
- With apps like ‘WikiCamps Australia’ or ‘CamperMate’ you can find cheap or even complete free campsites.
- Note that some campsites only allow you to stay if you are self-contained (otherwise penalties are payable).
- The nights are getting cold, don’t forget warm clothes (except for the summer).
- Be prepared for adventurous roads.
- Never forget the iconic Australian campfire (note the danger of bushfires!).
Additional general travel tips:
- The Student Guild tours are a good beginning to get to know the surroundings and meet people
- Bookme.com.au has really good discounts and offers on trips and activities
- If you want to take a selfie with a Roo or with a real koala, this is much cheaper and more natural at Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane than at Australia Zoo.
The official reason why we are here: Our studies at the USC
Now, let’s talk about our main activity: studying.
The study system here differs in principle from that at home. In Germany, there is only a large final examination, whilst here you have to complete several assignments during the semester. Usually there are three assessments per module within one semester. We had to take four courses for our Diploma so that you have to keep an eye on the different deadlines. In general, USC offers a lot of support in all areas, from topics like academic writing to the organisation of exams.
Quite fast we noticed that the teaching here is rather more internationally oriented, so it is not strictly thought within national borders and students are extremely encouraged to own further thinking. Due to already absolved business courses in our studies in Germany, it was possible for us to complete the Diploma, which normally lasts 2 semesters, in only one semester. For our courses, we were able to choose from an extensive range of business courses, which consists of a lecture and tutorial. Since you can create your timetable relatively freely, we could arrange our courses in such a way that we had a long weekend for activities. Other advantages of the diploma degree include a discount on public transport, an additional Australian degree and a graduation ceremony with the famous academic dress.
The USC campus is very open, offers a lot of nature and of course the popular kangaroos, which join you for a nap on the lawn. There is also a lot more: many cafes to meet up with friends, market days, restaurants, a stationery shop with university merchandise and a large library with many workplaces for individual and group work.
To sum it up
Finally, we have some last general tips for you:
- Use discount cards such as ‘Wowdeals’ or student offers via the ISIC
- Sign up with airlines like Jetstar, Virgin Australia and TigerAir for the newsletter to get cheap flight offers
- Opening an Australian bank account can make sense to avoid credit card charges
- Do not underestimate the Australian winter, also in Australia a thick sweater can be useful!
- Australia is not the cheapest option for the semester abroad – plan your budget accordingly.
- Don’t be surprised if you already see Santa Claus in July – that’s Christmas in July.
We can say that we were very happy to have experienced this ‘Australian adventure’ together. It was very helpful to have someone to share all this from the beginning.
And remember: life is always sunny at the Sunshine Coast!