It is time for me to tell you more about my adventure in Australia and how my experience as an exchange student went. I hope my story won’t be too long.
Well, I didn’t. I wanted to go to Spain to improve my Spanish and get the Erasmus plus grant 😊. A few days before applying for the exchange program, something happened in my brain and I said: ‘you know we only live once, and I always wanted to go to Australia, so I am going to put Australia as the first choice on the application form’.
To be honest, I wasn’t expected to be chosen since there were only 2 spots available in the whole university. But, against all the odds, I was picked to fill one spot. I was so happy that I ran across all university smiling and jumping like a crazy girl. I was happy for days, and no one could take the smile off my face. In a matter of days, everybody knew I was going to Australia. Some of my friends were a bit surprised since I always try to play it safe, truth is I like to take risks.
After receiving all the documents from the university in Australia and signing them. I had to apply first for the insurance and then for the student visa, which was quite expensive. For both, I paid around 500 euros. When applying for the visa, I was quite anxious, mostly because I knew how strict they are regarding foreigners. I was lucky, and I received it soon after I applied for it. I also bought the plane tickets and waited for the day to come.
I am always scared of airport security, especially the Australian one. I watched a TV show called “Airport Security.” when I was still living in Italy, and I knew that they can be strict and harsh. I was terrified so I washed all my shoes and clothes so they can be clean, especially the shoes, since I read that they should not have mud on them. I also avoided taking any food or drinks. I do not smoke, and I do not know how many packets of cigarettes you can take with you.
During the first flight, I was ok, it was short, about 6 hours and I chatted with a guy from Syria, that grew up in Qatar and studied medicine in Romania. I enjoy talking with people on the plane, they have crazy stories, and besides that, I talk a lot. Who knows me personally, knows what I am talking about, and look at how long this post is going to be. On the second flight from Doha to Sydney, I spoke with a flight attendant from Croatia, and we had some long chats, in between sleeping. The trip was long about 17 hours, and I had the impression that when we had only five hours, the clock was stuck to that time and it wasn’t going down.
After we landed, I started to panic, because I had another flight to catch in one hour and 30 min. Luckily my experience with airport security wasn’t like the one on the TV show, and I caught the second flight to Brisbane on time. I was alone on the seat, and I didn’t disturb anybody 😊, but when I arrived in Brisbane, the transfer driver was my victim, and I talked to him the whole time. I don’t know where I got all that energy from, after travelling for more than 27 hours and sleeping only 2 hours on the plane.
Waking up in a new room, in a new city is always strange for me. I love it, and I always feel fresh. This time I was fresh and jet-lagged. Only after three weeks, I got used to the climate. I left Europe in February, during winter and in Australia I was hit by the heat of summer. I was also bitten by a fire ant during the first week. It was so painful that I thought it was a spider. Silly me to believe that ants can be harmless in Australia. I also discovered that on campus, we had strange species of birds that I never saw before, giant bats and almost no spiders. The university was like a small zoo, and I loved it.
During the orientation week, the University does a lot of events, you also get to know the lecturers and the university staff. I studied at the USQ, and I lived in the smallest campus, there were only two buildings.
As a requisite from my Danish university, I had to attend four courses, since each one of them would give me 7.5 ECTS points, enough for me to complete my semester requisite. Talking with other students, I discovered that they rarely pick four courses, and they prefer to do 2 or 3 per semester. I was a bit sceptic, and I thought they just wanted to chill a bit and not be stressed. I was wrong; four courses require a lot of dedication and home study and work. Fun fact, I am an undergrad student, and I was supposed to pick undergraduate courses, which I did for three of them. One class that I chose was a master course, and I realise that too late, and I could not change it.
Overall the classes were easy and fun to attend, you can interact with lectures and debate at all time. Everyone is involved in the conversation and have a voice. Teachers are funny, friendly and try to do everything to help you. You can also see the mentor assigned for the class if you fall behind or write to the lecturer, and you will receive an answer right away.
On your student page, you have everything, from class recordings, video and audio, presentations, study materials. There is also a forum where you can interact even with online students. The faculty shares everything with the students, and I think being transparent is the most important thing.
During the semester, students must complete three or more assignments for each course, which will contribute to their final marks. I had 12 assignments to complete, and it was, time-consuming and stressful. On the bright side, I improved my English, which is still broken but not like before😊.
Usually, the assignments are written essays or reports and quizzes. I had only two questionnaires, and the rest was written. Each assignment was longer than 10 pages, and I had to finish it in 6 days because each week, I had a deadline for one assignment.
I can say that luck was on my side because I only had to do two exams, one for the master course and one for the undergrad course. Each exam can be taken only once if you fail, you must retake the course. The exam is handwritten, and it lasts 2 hours and 10 minutes of perusal. The exams can be open book or not, but that doesn’t matter because you do not have time to open your book.
Before the exam, they give you some useful materials to prepare yourself. You can also contact the lecturer or mentor anytime if you have doubts.
I am proud of myself because I am a College student and I attended a University, and I passed all the courses.
Unfortunately, like always I procrastinated a bit during the semester, and I had little time to travel. About my tourist experiences, I will talk in another post, this one is getting way too long 😊.
I was happy because I met beautiful people, especially two of my flatmates. This experience made me grow a lot. More than I thought, and I will do it again. If you genuinely desire something make use all your energy and strength to get to it.
If you have other questions, write to me, and I will answer them :).
Have a beautiful day:)!