After it was clear that I would like to spend my semester abroad at James Cook University in Australia (or JCU abbreviated by AbbreviationFinder) for many good reasons, I started the necessary application. Compared to my German university, which offered less support, MicroEDU organized almost the entire application and enrollment process.
All I had to do was fill out the application documents sent to me and present certain evidence of academic achievements (e. g. a DAAD certificate for sufficient English language skills). After choosing my courses and paying the not exactly cheap tuition fees, I received the confirmation of admission. Now nothing stood in the way of staying in Australia.
Shortly before I started my outward journey in February, I got the opportunity to secure accommodation on campus, to be picked up from the airport and to be accommodated in temporary accommodation (backpacker hostel) for the first few days. I gratefully accepted the last two offers, while I declined the first because I had planned to rent a small house off campus with a few fellow students on site. On the one hand, this was cheaper than the dormitory and, on the other hand, we could do whatever we wanted there.
After we finally arrived in Australia together and moved into temporary accommodation, we immediately started looking for accommodation. The “International Students Office” at James Cook University offered us enormous support. There was a huge database of advertisements, some of the landlords were phoned for us and there was a driving service for viewing appointments.
So after about a week we found a very nice house with a room for each of us (there were five of us) without any problems. The rent wasn’t much cheaper than on campus, but we had a lot more space.
Shortly afterwards, the orientation week (o-week) began, for which you should definitely be on site. At this time, there are many events to get to know each other, but also to visit the university and its facilities. In addition, the first party took place in the university’s own club, which, as is usually the case there, was a theme party.
The lectures that followed in the next few weeks were for the most part very interesting and instructive. Not only the student body was very international (estimated 20% international students), but also the professors. So with five professors we had two Australians, one German, one Dutch and one Chinese.
It became particularly interesting when a project started in which our IT course was combined with a design and journalism course, small teams were created from the students of all 3 courses and a real-life problem was simulated, that it had to be worked on over several weeks. These teams were not only set up internationally, but also comprised employees from different specialist areas. Better preparation for later working life is difficult to imagine, kudos to James Cook University for this. Furthermore, the university has excellent facilities, so that work on the projects could be carried out extremely comfortably on site. For example, there were computer rooms that were open 24 hours a day and were often used for Skype to Germany due to the time difference of 8 or 9 hours.
The monthly limit of traffic from the university account of not even 1GB was a bit annoying.
The upcoming exams were not easier or more difficult than the ones we are used to from Germany. With a few exceptions, consideration was also given to the linguistic disadvantages of international students.
In addition to all the work, there was of course time for excursions and other leisure activities. The beach is about 20 minutes by car from the university and offers excellent opportunities to relax from the stress of university. For example, there is a huge free swimming pool that is visited when the jellyfish season is on and one should rather not swim in the sea.
Of course there is also a lot to see outside of the city, which is difficult to get to without your own car (train station and airport available). The next larger city, for example, is a good two hours’ drive away, which is nothing unusual for Australia. Nonetheless, there are numerous attractions nearby (around 300km radius) that you should definitely visit. For example, the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands should be mentioned, which you will definitely not forget anytime soon.
In summary, I can definitely look back on an exciting, eventful, but also instructive time and would recommend everyone to do a semester abroad at James Cook University immediately, provided that the necessary change is available. But there are also solutions for this problem thanks to, for example, Auslandsbafög.
I wish all interested parties a lot of fun!