Kristine Brevik Kvalnes from Norway studying a Bachelor in Business (Tourism, Leisure and Event Management) at USC Sunshine Coast

My name is Kristine and I am from Norway. I just started my third year in the Bachelor of Business (Tourism, Leisure and Event Management) degree. I applied to USC through Kilroy which made thing a lot easier. They can help you with pretty much anything. I had wanted to go back to Queensland since 2015 when I went to Australia for the first time, doing volunteer work with animals in Port Douglas. USC was the first university that caught my eye and I applied pretty much straight away.

Studying at USC has been great so far. All of my teachers are very helpful and want me to do well. USC has many international student so everyone is very understanding when it comes to different cultures and people not having English as their first language and all of that.

The Environment is very welcoming. It’s very easy to make friends. I moved here all by myself and that was no problem. What I like with my degree is that there is so many courses to choose from. I specifically liked the sustainable tourism courses. Not all universities focus on sustainability as much as USC and I really like that.

I have spent a lot of time travelling since I moved here. Travelling a lot was pretty much my biggest goal when I moved here. I’ve pretty much been all over Queensland. I’ve been to Victoria and New South Whales. I’ve also been to New Zealand and several countries in South east Asia. I had planned to do more but unfortunately as many others I had to postpone my plans because of Covid19.

Queensland is diffidently not the worst place to be stuck because of a global pandemic. There are tons of beaches to explore. You can go to Brisbane or the Gold Coast. You can go on a road trip up to Cairns where you can find Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, Daintree rainforest and so many other amazing places.

If I could do it all again I would have packed with me way less things when I left home. USC is close to both Sunshine plaza and Kawana Shopping World so there is really no need to bring to much. I would also had packed with me more warm sweaters and less bikinis, haha. When you have lived in Australia for a while you get surprisingly used to the climate. Suddenly you don’t find 20 degrees very warm anymore and you start wearing more clothes.

Student accommodations are a great way to get to know people. I lived at UniCentral for my first year than I moved to a private place. That is what works best and what most people do I think. During Covid19 I moved closer to the beach since classes was moved online and there was a lot less to do in Sippy downs at the time.

Stine Milena Hansen from Kilroy Denmark studying a Diploma in General Studies at USC Sunshine Coast

Blog photo 6Hey y’all! My name is Stine, I’m from Denmark, I’m 24 years old – but most importantly, a student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). I’m currently studying a bachelor’s degree at Copenhagen Business School and had the amazing opportunity to study abroad for my 5th semester. With outstanding AND FREE help and guidance from Kilroy Denmark, my choice landed on the paradise of the Sunny Coast in Australia – and believe me, it was a perfect choice to escape good old grey Denmark.

This place is B-E-A-UTIFUL and the USC campus is something else! I can’t tell you how much I value this experience – but I’ll try..

Blog photo 4First of all, the USC campus has everything you could ever ask for. Kangaroos on the lawn, parrots in the trees, solar panels on the roof, a big old composting machine (how amazing is that?), free food at the student guild, the best dirty chai lattes, free yoga classes and I could go on and on. There’s an endless amount of services provided for you the moment you enrol as a student here. Even during the hard parts, when you have assessments due – you find light in all the services provided to guide you through your courses. I also find the professors here very chill, down to earth and with a lot of hands-on experience spiced up with some good Aussie humour. They are there for you when you need them, all you gotta do is ask.

Another great thing about studying at USC is the surroundings! There are so many amazing places to explore during the weekends and holidays! So, if you want to combine study and travel, this is the SPOT. I for instance went camping at Rainbow Beach a couple weeks ago and it was excellent. Spent the weekend beach cruising, moonlight ocean dipping with a couple stingrays, paragliding, chilling in my hammock, hiking and just exploring nature to the fullest …and this is just one of many crazy memorable weekends.

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So, don’t hesitate to take a semester abroad at University of the Sunshine Coast, you’ll gain knowledge, meet new friends and get experiences for life! Trust me you won’t regret it as long as you bring SUNSCREEN!

– Stine Milena Hansen @stinemilena

 

 

Kristoffer Wahome from Kilroy Norway studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at USC Sunshine Coast

Kriss rooftop (3 of 12)Hi, My name is Kristoffer, I am a 25-year-old international student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). I am pursuing a Bachelor Degree of Social Science (Psychology) and I am currently in my second year of studies.

I am an adventurous, outgoing social person that enjoys photography, sports and just living life. So the fact that the USC offers a range of social clubs to take part in, it has provided me the opportunity to form friendships with people from all around the globe with different backgrounds and culture, which is a huge bonus for me.

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Moving to Australia to study at USC was a decision I pondered about for a while before pursuing it, yet when I arrived on the Sunshine Coast I knew I had made the right decision. The weather is amazing most of the time and I am lucky to live less than a 5 minute walk away from the beach, could anyone ask for more?

As an international student that has spent over a year here on the Sunny Coast, there is still plenty of things left for me to see and experience, I frankly cannot get enough of this place. However, I can recommend some essentials that any new student here should try out;

  • Kriss rooftop grain (10 of 13)A trip up the coast to Noosa National Park where you can relax in the fairy pools, and if you’re lucky, spot a Koala making its way up in the trees
  • Visit Byron Bay, the most iconic little Australian town in my mind, you just have to experience it for your self
  • Some early mornings at the beach watching the sunrise while you’re out on your surfboard in the water
  • Trying to climb any of the nearby mountains for a chance to see a spectacular view over the coast
  • Make your way to any of the waterfalls around the coast, for a fun adventure
  • USC International - Brand Ambassador event 2 (61 of 65)Camping trips to the national forest, bonfires at night while watching the most starry sky I have found on my travels

I recommend anyone to come study at USC if you are interested in pursuing an authentic Australian experience while reviving a great education with like minded students from all around the word.

– Kristoffer Wahome @kristofferwahome

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Nathalie Bergstrom from Kilroy Sweden studying abroad at USC Sunshine Coast

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Hi!! My name is Nathalie, I’m from Sweden and I am doing my exchange semester here at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). I study Intro to Film and TV studies, Creative Advertising, New Venture Growth, and Learning in Australian Landscapes. Kilroy Sweden was a great help for me when applying to USC, they answered all the questions I had at the time of applying.

I love the Sunshine Coast, it is just an amazing place to live and I am so happy I chose this school. The school is nice and is located around beautiful nature where you can find kangaroos jumping around which is just amazing to see every time. I enjoy my accommodation, it is just 5 minutes walk to school which is great if you’re running a bit late to class. I have my own bedroom and bathroom which I love so I can have my stuff where I want and clean myself.

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With the course Learning in Australian Landscapes, we go on four field trips during the semester which is just amazing. First trip was paddling at Noosa, it was so beautiful and a fun day trip. Next up was abseiling and climbing at Mount Ngungun which I was a bit nervous about, mainly because I had never climbed before and I am scared of heights. However, I was proud of myself that I did it. The third trip was an overnight trip to Cooloola National Park. The fourth and last trip was to Fraser Island which is about two hours from here. When we came to the island my group started biking on the sand and it was great and so much fun biking on the beach looking at the waves. After that, we changed groups and we got to pick up trash on the beach!

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The next day we went to the rainforest on the island and walked for a bit which was so beautiful! We also learned more about the vegetation on the island. Later on, we went to Lake McKenzie which had the clearest water I’ve seen, it was so beautiful. On the third day we did some stops and then went back home to the coast. I was so tired the days after the trip but it was so worth it!

I have also been to Brisbane and the Gold Coast which are both great places to visit for a more ‘big city’ feeling. Before I go home, I have planned to go to Cairns, Whitsundays, and Sydney. During my time here, I have seen so much already and I have some trips still coming after school. I really think it is worth coming here to study if you’re considering it, as it is just amazing and there’s so much to do and see. I really recommend studying at USC and experience the Sunshine Coast.

– Nathalie Bergstrom @nattisbergstrom

Michelle Brache Axelsson from Kilroy Sweden studying abroad at USC Sunshine Coast

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Hi everyone!

My name is Michelle and I am a Swedish international student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Here I am doing a Study Abroad semester, taking Introduction to Psychology B, Exercise Prescription & Programming 1, Fundamentals of Photographic Practice and Learning in Australian Landscapes. Four completely different courses, but all of which I am really interested in. I discovered USC online on Kilroy Sweden’s website when looking at different possible universities to study at, and Kilroy helped me a lot by answering all my questions, checking to see if my chosen courses required any previous studies and they even helped me fill out the application, for free!

My plan from the beginning was to go to South America and somehow I ended up here in Australia instead. It wasn’t the plan but I’m really happy that life doesn’t always turn out as planned, because then I wouldn’t have had the chance to see this incredibly beautiful country and meeting all these friendly, kind, cool people living here.

I have mostly been focusing on my studies so far, but I have also visited a few places. Thanks to my Learning in Australian Landscapes course (OES104) I have gotten the opportunity to see Australia and study at the same time. I have learned a lot about the Australian history, its flora and fauna, and also gotten to see some beautiful places which I probably wouldn’t have visited by myself. We have been paddling kayak in beautiful Noosa River, which is approximately a 40 min drive from USC. Noosa also have a great national park where you can see koalas, beautiful beaches and the famous fairy pools. It is a place you must visit when studying here.

We have also been climbing and abseiling in the Glass House Mountains, paddling and hiking in Cooloola and last but not least, we went to K’gari (Fraser Island), which is the largest sand island in the world. On the island, we got to bike one the beach, visit Lake McKenzie, walk through the rainforest and Eli Creek, and see the SS Maheno Shipwreck, which was really cool. We also saw some whales from the beach and dingos walking around. This is a course I recommend to all international students if you want to see Australia without having to pay for it, and at the same time learn a lot about the country.

I definitely recommend going to Australia and USC, but before you do, make sure you have saved up as much money as possible. Because trust me, you will want to travel everywhere and see everything, eat everything, and go to all the markets and buy beautiful, handmade Australian stuff. So save that money, it will be worth it!

This experience is one that I wish everyone would have the opportunity to have. So if you do, don’t take it for granted and be thankful for it. Make sure you enjoy it!

– Michelle Brache Axelsson @michellebracheaxelsson

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Emilie Lie & Johan Mowinckel from Kilroy Norway studying a Bachelor of Business at USC Sunshine Coast

Photo 01-10-2019, 02 58 23Hi everyone, this is Emilie and Johan. We are two Norwegian Vikings, studying business at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Emilie started the Bachelor of Business the first semester of 2019, and Johan started his last year of his bachelor here at the same time. Through Kilroy, we found this university and chose to give it a try, which we never regretted. Kilroy helped us with everything and made it super easy for us to apply.

USC is an amazing university which helps and adapts to each student needs. It has a big support system for students that can help you and give you advice along the way, both academic and on a more personal level. Photo 22-09-2019, 18 05 34During the semester you have several assessments and tests in each course, which gives you a guideline on how you are doing and contributes to your final grade. This takes some of the pressure of the exams, as you often can pass the course before you attend the final exam. The teacher-student relationship is really close at USC, and if you are struggling with your assessment, the teacher helps you from an early stage and make sure that you get the right help. Our university have a very high learning quality but also consists of great architecture and an incredible wildlife.

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Throughout our first year here, we have gotten to explore some breathtaking places, all the way from Melbourne in south to Port Douglas and Cairns in north. We have mostly travelled by motorbike or car, which we found was the best and easiest way to explore all the beautiful places along the way.

After exploring all these beautiful places, we couldn’t be happier about the place we chose to live. Sunny Coast has the best of both worlds. It allows you to live the Australian dream by the ocean, where you can have a morning surf, sunbath, go for a walk or a refreshing swim, while also having access to a great university, beautiful mountains and a lot of authentic cafes. If you ever get Photo 02-10-2019, 18 53 25sick of snorkelling with turtles, dolphins and sharks, you can always take an hour-long drive to Brisbane, which is one of the largest cities in Australia.

Last but not least, while studying at USC, you get the opportunity to establish friendships and connections with people from all over the world. With common interests and a lot of experiences together, you will make friends for life.

If you have any questions, need advice or inspiration about life at USC or places to go, do not hesitate to contact us on social media:

– Emilie Lie @emilie_lie & Johan Mowinckel @johanmarkusm

Espen Foss Skavlem from Kilroy Norway studying a Bachelor of International Business at USC Sunshine Coast

fullsizeoutput_b25My name is Espen Foss Skavlem and I am a Norwegian student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). I am currently in my second year undertaking a degree in Bachelor of International Business, minoring in Supply Chain Management. Considering my degree, I could not think of any better option than moving to the other side of the world to get educated. However, the process of moving across the globe to study can be challenging. Kilroy in Norway is assisting students that wants to study abroad, and they were really helpful and assisted me with everything I needed and made the process as comfortable and easy as possible.

I moved down under in July 2018 with the expectations of meeting new and interesting people from all around the world, and I can IMG_1174fairly say that my expectations were exceeded as this has been one of the most memorable years of my life. I have made many friends from all around the world and have been able to travel and work with students from many different cultures, and I am only half way there!

The Sunshine Coast lives up to its name, however, keep in mind that the winter mornings and evenings can get pretty chilly so bring enough sweaters. Living on the coast also brings many travel opportunities to several IMG_0877close distances. Byron Bay is one of my favourite places to travel and is only a three-hour drive south from the sunny coast. Two hours north of the coast you can also find Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island, which are some of the most unique places I have ever been. Fraser Island is almost completely made of sand and you can rent a four-wheel drive car and camp at amazing spots on the Island, a great experience!

fullsizeoutput_f58As you now know, studying at USC and living on the Sunshine Coast is an amazing experience and I am happy for anyone that has the chance to do it! I am going to study overseas in the US next semester and I know that one of the things I am going to miss the most is the opportunity to just drive to the beach, enjoy a morning swim, and hang with my friends just having a couple of cold ones!

– Espen Foss Skavlem

Mariann Brubakken from Kilroy Norway studying a Bachelor of Nutrition at USC Sunshine Coast

1-bicubic (2)Hi, my name is Mariann and I am a student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).

After high school I wanted to experience more of the world as well as I was eager to start my study. I had heard about Kilroy form a friend that was studying in Australia at the moment, and I decided to have a look at their website.  I ended up messaging Kilroy about study options abroad. I wanted to live somewhere close to the ocean and was advised about some great universities in Australia, including USC, where I am now currently studying.

I wanted to have the opportunity have electives with my course, and was advised that I was able to do that at USC, which also contributed to me choosing to study at USC where I was able to combine my Bachelor of Nutrition with a Minor in Journalism in addition to some Public Health electives. Kilroy was very helpful with assisting me finding a university that had what I was looking for, and also helped make the application process as easy as possible.

2Living on the Sunshine Coast is absolutely amazing, and it has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life. There are heaps of local cafés and opportunities to get new experiences, such as surfing and climbing which is something that I really enjoy doing whilst living here on the coast. The semester summer breaks are also pretty long here at USC which have given me the opportunity to do some travelling around Australia and to Bali, booked through Kilroy’s website. Deciding to do a bachelor in Australia has given me so many great memories and friendships that I will treasure for life.

Doing a heavy science-based course, I really appreciate all the support USC have had to offer as well as the chill vibe that the Sunshine Coast has. I would absolutely recommend studying at USC!

Margrethe Johansen & Sofie Gamst Holm from The Arctic University of Norway studying at USC Sunshine Coast

 

IMG_5043Hello, we are two Norwegian girls studying abroad from The Arctic University of Norway. Our names are Margrethe and Sofie. We are currently studying psychology in Norway and we got the opportunity to do one semester abroad. Both of us enjoy the beach and warmer temperatures, so Sunshine Coast here in Australia was an easy choice.

Here in Australia we are doing a program called Study Abroad. Both of us got a lot of help from Kilroy during this process. They helped us throughout the whole process and gave us helpful information about the different universities in Australia. When we decided to apply for The University of Sunshine Coast, they helped us with the application, tuition fees, visa etc.

As we both love the beach life we decided to share with you our top 5 favourite beaches here on the Sunshine Coast.

  1. Mooloolaba

This beach is located only 15 minutes by bus from uni. It is the closest beach, but also our favourite. This is the beach where we have spent most of our time during the past five months. From Mooloolaba you can walk along the coastline towards Pt. Cartwright, which has a nice view. There are also located a lot of nice bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops along the esplanade. We especially love the acai bowls at Acai Brothers and the coffee at Hustle & Flow Espresso. Mooloolaba is always patrolled by lifeguards which means that you can enjoy a nice swim in the ocean.

  1. Little Cove Beach

This little beach is located in Noosa Heads, which is 40 minutes away from the university by car and approximately 1.5 hours by bus. The beach is very close to Noosa Main Beach, but not nearly as crowded. The water is crystal clear, and you can do a bit of surfing here as well. If you feel like it, you can continue to walk along a wooden path to some beautiful rock pools named Fairy Pools. There are also a lot of cafes, restaurants, and shops in walking distance from this beach.

  1. Kings Beach

It is located in Caloundra, which is approximately 50 minutes away from the university by bus and 25 minutes away by car. It is a beautiful beach, where you both can surf and swim. From Caloundra you can watch the sun going down behind the beautiful Glass House Mountains. In addition to this, Caloundra often has street fairs with lots of good food and small shops.

  1. Dicky Beach

This beach is located about 40 minutes away from the university by bus and is close to Caloundra. From Dicky Beach you can watch beautiful sunrises and there are a couple of cute coffee shops nearby where you can enjoy a break from the sun. Our favourite is The Pocket Espresso. There are also some good waves for surfing, and the beach is less crowded than Kings Beach. If you like dogs or have you’re own dog, there is a dog beach called Moffat Beach right next to this beach.

  1. Alexandra Headland

This beach is located about 20 minutes from the university by bus. The beach is right next to Mooloolaba, but more suited for surfing than Mooloolaba is. You can walk along the esplanade between these two beaches, and it is a beautiful walk. From Alexandra Headland you can watch beautiful sunsets while watching a lot of talented surfers. You can get delicious ice cream at Cold Rock which is located right next to the beach.

We hope you enjoyed reading about our favourite beaches. We have not regretted for one split second that we decided to study at the Sunshine Coast and at USC. It has been an incredible semester filled with lots of good food, new friends, tons of sunshine and traveling. If you have any questions about USC, Australia, accommodation or studying abroad in general, we are more than happy to answer. You can find us at Instagram @maggi95 and @sofiegam.

Oliver Siewertsen from Kilroy Denmark studying at USC Sunshine Coast

Hey everyone, my name is Oliver and I’m 20 years old. I’m currently a Study Abroad student from Kilroy because I’m having a gap-year in Denmark and wanted to do something different than just travelling around.

I had many different universities in Australia in mind but decided to choose USC because of the program, the location and their effort to make international students feel welcome.

Studying at USC was way above my expectations and definitely the best time of my life, even the weeks with a lot of uni-work. It’s just amazing to have the opportunity to sit in the sun and watch kangaroos jumping around when doing assessments or homework.

USC is a modern university with new facilities and the newest technology, which is a thing I really appreciate. USC also offers various kinds of sports and clubs, both competitive and social sports, which is fun to try – and also a great opportunity to meet other students and build up friendships.

Top 5 must do while studying at USC

Noosa Heads:

pjimageNoosa Heads located 30-45 minutes north of USC. This area is amazing and gives a bit of the “Miami Beach vibe”, you have a lot of small cozy cafés and restaurants, shopping opportunities and one of the best beaches on the Sunshine Coast.

One out of two Everglades in the world is also located in Noosa and the national park with various hiking trails. You can get to Noosa by car or by bus. It cost approximately 5$ from USC to Noosa.

Surfing at Alexandra Headlands:

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One of the must do when studying or visiting Australia is surfing! Surfing is a huge thing in Australia, and you will be able to see surfers at every beach. I recommend surfing at the Alexandra Headlands beach because it’s close to USC and board hire is approximately 30$ for 3 hours.

PS: Surfing is way harder than it looks like – so don’t give up after a few tries!

Wings Wednesday at Taps:

Every Wednesday, the restaurant “Taps” at Mooloolaba is offering 10 chicken wings with a burst of flavors for 5$. This is a place with a great atmosphere, a lot of people especially uni-students and a great place to catch up in the midweek. Besides for the cheap and delicious chicken, beer-taps are located at each table so you can pour your own beer!

Australia Zoo:

pjimage (2)25 minutes south from USC is the world-famous Steve Irwin zoo located, also called Australia Zoo. This is an absolute must do and a great experience. Daily buses to Australia Zoo are available and it’s easy to get there. Steve Irwin’s vision has always been to make Australia Zoo the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the entire world. It is also at the Australia Zoo you get a chance to pet and feed kangaroos, carry a koala, pet a wombat and many other animals.

Fraser Island:

Fraser islandFraser Island is 2 hours driving north from USC, and it is the world largest sand island. It was inscribed as a “World Heritage Site” in 1992 and is especially known for the Lake McKenzie, the wildlife and the champagne pools. Fraser Island has rain forests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths.

Also, throughout the semester, there’s a study-break midway the semester and a few public holidays, where it is possible to arrange trips to destinations all around Australia. Students are often going to places like Sydney, Melbourne, The Whitsundays, Uluru, and some are even going to New Zealand or Bali. The opportunities are endless.

Advice to future students:

Intro pictureFor myself, going to a new country by myself to study, was definitely a cross-border experience and it can be thrilling. But it turns out to be the best experience ever, and I wish everyone who has the possibility to go study abroad, should do so.

Learning about a new culture and be a part of it, get to know people from all around the world, boost your CV/resume, improve English skills, and get the chance to do trips all around Australia while studying. All this ensure the best time of your life and my advice would definitely be; to get this experience and do this cross-border experience. If you make sure to write your assessments in time, there’s plenty of time to explore and travel when studying.

I’m so grateful for my time here, for all the people I have met, the friends I’ve got for the rest of my life and the experiences when exploring this amazing continent.

Cheers, Oliver

Lars and Labolina from Sweden – 1080 days of friendship, adventures, and achievements studying at USC Sunshine Coast!

This is Labolina and Lars’ adventure, a story about two people from Dalarna, Sweden and how we met by chance at University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in Queensland, Australia.

In 2014 we were two strangers, but we both had a spontaneous idea to study overseas, and since we wanted to begin as soon as possible we both enlisted the help of Kilroy Education. Their friendly and professional staff helped us get ready for the adventure, not knowing that our paths would cross only a few weeks later, and that this meeting would develop into a great friendship which in turn would foster academic and professional success.

Labolina

Back in 2014 we left two different worlds behind. I was busy completing high school when my dad one night mentioned that he knew someone who had studied overseas on the Sunshine Coast, in Australia.  All I thought I knew about Australia at the time was that Sydney was the capital (I was wrong), and that everyone spoke like the crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin (I was not completely wrong about that). So, the thought of moving to the other side of the world, to a country that I knew almost nothing about, seemed both thrillingly challenging and completely out of my comfort zone. As I have always been interested in learning how the human body works, I applied to study a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. Later in my degree I fell in love with Microbiology, learning about microorganisms, infectious diseases and what we can do to treat them. Throughout my degree, I had the opportunity to participate in theoretical lessons, practical laboratory experiments, and two special research projects, focusing on the things I wanted to learn more about. These factors definitely contributed to my learning experience, if there was something I would improve with the Microbiology program it would be the amount of laboratory time!

In contrast, Lars decided to leave his marketing career for a more person-centred profession, and since Lars was eager to explore other cultures, he knew his journey would begin overseas. Once Kilroy helped Lars find the Bachelor of Counselling program at USC, he was hooked. While Lars did not mind learning about theories, I could tell his favourite part of his degree was the many practical exercises such as demonstrating acquired counselling skills. Lars, himself, once told me that his favourite aspect of his degree was the balanced course structure, which is divided between theoretical discussions, practical exercises, and personal reflections.

Although, how do you gently tell your friends and family that you are moving overseas for at least three years? I remember Lars telling me he was out walking with his brother one day, when he out of nowhere said “Bro, you know the expression ‘I might have a screw loose?’, well I think my bolts are gone, the screws are nowhere to be found, and the whole structure is about to fall apart… I have decided to move to the Sunshine Coast for four years!”. I am not sure, but there might be some truth in Lars’ comment, as it was definitely a thrilling time, and it was at times difficult to comprehend what my university application would actually mean.

Lars

In the first half of July 2014 we both began our separate journeys to Australia, interestingly enough we both chose to travel the 24+ hour journey with Emirates Airline. I remember Labolina telling me once that when she got into her waiting cab at Brisbane Airport around midnight, she clearly thought her driver sounded like Hugh Jackman. She thought that her knowledge about Australia was astonishing. I have never met any Hugh Jackman sound-a-likes, but when I arrived I was well aware of the ‘dangerous threat’ from Drop Bears!

Before we knew it, we were Bachelor students, enrolled in our separate courses at USC, which is a university far, far away from home. To say that the following three years was an adventure would be an understatement, particularly for me. Not only because I was moving overseas, but also because I, as a person with sight impairment, was changing the familiarity of Sweden for an area, culture, and environment I could not see. I remember Labolina and I talking about how nerve wracking the first few weeks were, as we suddenly were sharing a lecture theatre with a few hundred other students. The thing that made us most nervous though, was not knowing if we could actually overcome the challenges that laid ahead.

Labolina

I mean, moving across the world, doing a university degree in another language, is a pretty big challenge to take on, right? What we loved about USC though, was that it often felt like a tight-knit community. Throughout our degrees, whenever we had questions or wanted advice from teachers, they would be there to answer them. Whenever we wanted to learn more, our teachers would provide us with the opportunity to do so, and whenever we struggled to get our words across because of the language-barrier, our classmates would patiently listen and help. Some of my teachers well and truly acted as my mentors, and I loved being able to sit down over a coffee and discuss the world of microbiology with them.

I think it is rare to find a university with the same person-centred philosophy as USC. For example, USC always had an individualistic approach to Lars’ learning experience. This was evident in his first meeting with Disability Services, in which Matt (Disability Advisor) sat down and calmly asked “Lars, what help do you need from us?”. This was the start of a positive, solution-focused cooperation between the university and Lars, which made it possible for him to study on the same terms as everyone else.

While we both agree on that it was a challenge to learn how to speak and write academically in English, we were never too worried as we would have had to learn the same thing in Swedish. This is because the ‘academic language’ is ‘a bit special’, so simply knowing a language is no guarantee that you will have it easy academically. Surprisingly, it only took a couple of weeks before we could walk into a lecture theatre with the feeling: “Hey, this feels natural”.

Lars

In my experience, it was not just the university that had a person-centred and supportive attitude, but also organisations such as Guide Dogs Queensland. They have, among other things, helped me learn how to navigate the unfamiliar areas of the Sunshine Coast using busses and trains. This have contributed to my ability to live independently, and have allowed me to gather knowledge and experiences on my own terms. I was therefore able to travel around, meet new people, and try some of Australia’s excellent breakfasts! While most of the people I have met have been warm and friendly, Australia’s Mermaids had a stone-cold manor, no matter which ‘pick-up lines’ I tried (chuckles).

However, thankfully Labolina was a more warm-hearted person, with whom I regularly met up with for a traditional Swedish Fika. Fika is deeply embedded in Swedish culture, and can be described as taking a break from the daily stresses in life. This short break allows people to appreciate the good things in life, either alone, or with company, and is usually enjoyed with a tea/coffee and something small to eat. The fact that we Swedes have a special word for this should be an indication of how important this lifestyle is.

Labolina and I enjoyed our first Fika within the first few weeks of our stay in Australia. This quickly became a tradition, and usually we met up once a week to discuss the ups and downs during each semester. We agree that this break from the university life made the whole experience less scary, since we had a familiar routine that reminded us of home. We both took on our academics as the biggest challenge of them all, so even though we were studying completely different degrees we could cheer each other on as we worked our hardest to improve with each semester.

This could not only be seen in our steadily increasing grade point averages, but also in the successes we had outside of our studies. For instance, I remember a modest Labolina pondering whether or not to apply for an esteemed Undergraduate research summer program at Monash University in Melbourne. With the support of her friends, family, and teachers Labolina submitted her application, and just a few months later she arrived at the Monash Research Laboratory. One of my own great accomplishments was my invitation to ‘The Golden Key International Honour Society’, which is reserved for the top 15 percent of students. Fuelled by this success I also managed to secure a position in the USC Golden Key Executive Team, and was later that year awarded the prestigious Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement Scholarship.

While USC is a smaller university, we believe that it was USCs person-centred and friendly atmosphere that allowed us to grow and flourish. We think this inclusive and flexible environment is difficult to find at other universities, so if you are looking for a university where you are a person and not a number, we would recommend University of the Sunshine Coast.

Final words

These past three years have been an incredible journey for us both, and thinking back on the Mooloolaba coast line is starting to feel like a long-lost dream already. We have had our own paths and challenges, but our friendship have been there to help us forward. It is, however, time for Labolina’s journey to change, as she is now starting her Master’s degree in Infectious Biology at Uppsala University. Lars will stay at USC to finish the last year of his counselling degree, before it is time for him to change his focus towards his passion, namely the field of sex and disability. Even though half a world separates us now, we will definitely stay in contact, and whenever the opportunity presents itself, we will reunite over a traditional Swedish Fika!

Written by Lars Karlström and Labolina Spång