1 Decision about a Study Abroad semester in Australia
To get some information about a semester abroad, I went to the international office at my university for advice. The best time for my project was the 4th or 5th semester. I was faced with the choice of doing a semester abroad through a partner institute or through an institute of my own choice. When choosing a partner institute of the University of Hamburg, the organization is easier. The application process is handled by the international office, the recognition of performance is agreed in advance and the correspondence also takes place directly between the universities. However, the choice of universities is not very large. So I decided to organize everything myself.
It was clear to me from the start that it should be an English-speaking country. The choices were the USA, England and Australia. After doing some research and calculating the costs, I decided to spend a semester in Australia.
2 Selection and application at the foreign university
Choosing a university was not that easy. There are a number of good colleges and universities spread across the country. The institutes that were right on the beach and / or had few students fell away. You should also pay attention to the tuition fees, as these vary a lot. Two universities were shortlisted. The Swinburne University has the advantage that the winter semester begins in August. That was especially important for me because I wrote my last exam on July 25th, 2010. So the Swinburne University of Technology was perfect for my project.
The application turned out to be more difficult than expected. I was able to meet the requirements and the documents were quickly obtained. Among other things, proof of performance is required. The proof must be in English and must be stamped and signed by the home university. The necessary language skills must be proven with the Toefl or the DAAD language test in connection with the Abitur certificate. In the DAAD test you need at least B in all areas and at least 7 points in English should be achieved in the Abitur. A letter of motivation must be prepared. Then the course selection is available which wasn’t that easy. Of course, courses must be found that are equivalent to those at the home university. This was difficult because you had to compare the course content and then discuss it with the appropriate professors. It should not be forgotten that Swinburne University has certain requirements in order to be able to take courses in the 5th semester. It is therefore advisable to obtain the information before choosing a course. After some correspondence between me and the university, the courses were also set. After the transfer of the tuition fee, the Study Abroad semester was confirmed. I submitted a vacation semester to save the tuition fees in Hamburg. The semester fee will still be transferred. I applied the visa online and received it electronically within 24 hours. So nothing stood in the way of my semester abroad. For the selection and application I needed about 6 months of intensive research and written communication.
3 Finding accommodation and arriving in Australia
Swinburne University has student dormitories. There are some directly at the various faculties and some in the city. However, you have to apply for this and pay a lot. Since you can only rent a room in this student residence for six months, I decided to look for accommodation on site.
The only problem was that I arrived on August 2nd, 2010 and OE also started on that day. Landed at 8 a. m. and already at 10 a. m. to the OE. The jet lag is really not to be underestimated. It took me about 4-5 days to get back to normal sleep patterns.
I spent the first few days in a motel near the main train station in order to be able to quickly view the apartment. I searched the Internet and in newspapers, there were also advertisements on various walls at the university. After many phone calls, I had some sightseeing and quickly decided on an apartment in the city. It was a little over my budget, but I took it anyway. The central location, size and furnishings were well worth the price. I found the apartment after 5 days and a few visits.
Since the semester at Swinburne University starts relatively late, there wasn’t a great selection of vacant accommodations anymore. The dorm rooms cost between A $ 220 and A $ 300 per week. The shower and kitchen are shared with other residents. I paid A $ 250 for my apartment, had my own kitchen and bathroom. Furthermore, the apartment was also very nicely decorated. There was also a gym and swimming pool that I could use free of charge. A fitness studio in Australia costs a minimum of A $ 90 and a maximum of A $ 300 per month. Flat share rooms can also be found for around A $ 150.
Another problem is that a tenancy can usually only be entered into for at least six months. Since a semester only lasts 4 months, it is difficult to find suitable accommodation. Many students rent an apartment for 6 months and hope to find a subtenant for the last 2 months. In summary, I can say that there is a good supply of real estate. As everywhere in larger cities, the following also applies here: “The further away from the city center, the cheaper the rent”.
4 Living and Living in Melbourne
Life in Melbourne CBD is really great. There is something for everybody. Many sights that are not far away. The State Library is located in the city center and is perfect for studying. It’s big and the architecture is impressive. The AFL stadiums are also located in the center, where games are played on the weekend and much more.
Most Australians go to one of the two largest supermarkets in Australia to buy groceries. This is Coles on the one hand and Woolworth on the other. There you can find everything your heart desires at reasonable prices that are similar to those in Germany. There are also smaller fruit and vegetable shops where you can possibly get one or the other cheaper. For this one of the numerous available public transport must be used. The subway runs very regularly, but punctuality cannot be relied upon very much. Trains fail or leave a different track in between. However, the Australians are very relaxed about it and deal with it confidently. The tram is also a good alternative and is often on time. There are also buses, and during my entire stay, only used the bus once. A monthly pass costs around A $ 110 for Zone 1, ie the city center and a radius of around 5 km. A day pass costs A $ 6. Students get a 50% discount. I did not get this discount because my university is not a partner university and I only studied there for one semester.
Melbourne’s weather is quite mild in August. Since I came from the European summer, I found the 12 degrees to be quite cold. I thought the weather would get better quickly, but it wasn’t.
The average temperature was 15 degrees with a lot of rain. Melbourne is known for its changeable weather. A well-known saying is, for example, “If you don’t like the weather wait 30 minutes”. All of my time in Melbourne the weather has been pretty poor. In November the weather got better, but this is also the phase of intensive learning.
5 Studies at Swinburne University of Technology
The OE week is organized every semester for all international students. Various information is provided that will make life and studies easier at the university.
After the OE week, I received my student ID and access to the IT system at the university. This system contains all courses, all dates, references, contact information for lecturers / professors and much more. My laptop was set up by the IT specialists so that I had free internet access on campus. With the student ID, books can be borrowed from the library. The library is directly opposite the business faculty. There are various shops and restaurants on campus. What I personally missed was a cafeteria with affordable prices. The different faculties are close to each other and the train is only a 5-minute walk from the business faculty.
The study system in Australia differs from that in Germany. In Germany, the system of independent learning is followed. In Australia, it’s more like school. Homework has to be done every week. An early feedback test is written in each course; this is rated at 5% of the overall grade. Depending on the course, a term paper must then be written that represents 10-15% of the overall grade. The next test is the mid-semester test, this corresponds to 20%. Before the final exam, a group work is created and presented. Depending on the course, this achievement is worth 10-15% of the final grade. The final exam is usually worth 50%. There are approximately 2 weeks between the individual exams. I took 4 courses and so I had to do one of the above services every 2 weeks for each course. Since these occurred almost at the same time and the homework also had to be done, the effort was relatively high.
This system ensures a higher chance of success among the participants to pass the course. After two years of study at the University of Hamburg, however, it takes getting used to. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. They must be brought under control with the necessary motivation and discipline and completed successfully.
The final exams were partly written in the lecture rooms and partly in Melbourne’s Festival Hall. In the Festival Hall, participants from several different courses write under the same conditions. The supervision is very strict, each row has its own supervision. Care is taken to ensure that the pen is held in hand before the processing time begins and a warning is given if this is the case.
6 Tuition fees
Tuition fees in Australia are generally very high. At Swinburne University of Technology, also known as SUT by AbbreviationFinder, tuition for one semester was A $ 9,000. The fees change every semester, because here, too, the following applies: “Demand determines the price”. Auslandsbafög supports studying abroad with EUR 4600, the remaining tuition fees have to be paid by yourself. Depending on the current exchange rate, you sometimes have to pay more, sometimes less. For all those who receive a foreign student loan, it is important to mention at this point that the tuition fees have to be paid in advance. For this I have the low-interest KfW student loan. This may or may not be paid back upon receipt of student loans, as the funding from student loans alone will not be enough for the entire project.
7 City, country and people
Australia is an impressive country with a very personable population. The friendliness and warmth of the people is unique. The Australians speak almost dialect-free English. So at the beginning I only had slight problems with my school English. It is unbelievable how quickly your own English skills develop and after a very short time the slight communication problems are gone.
The professors at the university naturally speak perfect specialist vocabulary bound English. Since I studied Business English at the technical college for some time, it was a little easier for me to follow the lessons. A dictionary is essential! I also had two substitute professors, one from France and the other from India. Understandably, these had a heavy accent.
Melbourne, it is the second largest city in Australia. In 2002, 2004 and 2005 Melbourne was voted the world’s most livable city. The Melbourne Museum is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Many buildings shape the cityscape of Melbourne. This also includes the historic Queen Victoria Market, Flinders Street Station and the State Parliament House, meanwhile also the Eureka Tower, which was completed in 2006. In Melbourne there are old buildings such as churches or apartment buildings next to newly built high-rise buildings. This gives the city a unique charm.
In such a city, subcultures also arise, which is why certain regions are also named after the cultures. A good example of this is Chinatown. Since Melbourne is by the sea, there is also a lovely beach in St Kilda. There are also many green areas, if the weather is even a little good, then nothing prevents the Australians from having a picnic (BBQ) or practicing various sporting activities there. In every park and everywhere on the beach there are free BBQ areas that can be used. So everyone only brings their own steak, the gas grill is provided by the state. This is the case across Australia.
Australia, is a huge country / continent. It is so rich in species, the different animal species both on land and in the sea, the plants and the unique coral reef on the east coast. In the south, nature is the same as in Europe and in the north it is like in the jungle, a tropical climate. In the east are the largest cities and tourist places and in the west it is very sparsely populated but blessed with dream beaches and wonderful weather. In the “Red Center” is the largest stone in the world and as the name suggests, Central Australia is made of red earth. This country has as many faces as, in my opinion, no other. Tasmania, a large island that consists almost entirely of national parks. That means untouched nature. Hiking and camping is a must in Australia. Hiking, climbing mountains, fighting your way through the bush, diving and snorkeling are always rewarded with a spectacular view.
I can only recommend to everyone to do a semester abroad. The experience gained in this short time is priceless. By that I mean both the good and the difficult experiences. On your own in Australia, far away from family and friends, faced with the challenge of getting to know the new system, making new friends and adapting to the country, the people and the culture. Some of these challenges have to be mastered with discipline and motivation, most of them are fun and enjoyable and should simply come to you. A good mix of determination and spontaneity brings every Australian student abroad an unforgettable time.
The knowledge of English brought with you from school should be seen as a foundation. Really good language skills can only be achieved through long-term practice and application. So I recommend everyone not only to meet with German-speaking students. There are many international students from Germany, so you tend to speak in German quickly. There are several ways to prevent this. I said straight away that I would only like to speak in English or that a good integration is part of speaking in the national language, or that I come from my parents’ country of origin.
Anyone who has been studying in Australia for a semester should also try to travel a bit, i. e. not end their stay immediately after graduation. As already mentioned, after my last exams at the University of Hamburg I had to pack my bags and start studying a few days later in Melbourne. Semester breaks must then be waived for a year. That’s why everyone deserves a very special vacation after the semester abroad and you can get it in the breathtaking country. The fastest way to travel is by plane, but beautiful places are simply overflown. A bus trip is an alternative, the Greyhound offers different tickets. A variant is that anyone can buy a ticket for 90 days for the east coast. This means that you can get on and off at any stop, but only in one direction to the north or south for just A $ 125. If you prefer to be flexible and not be alone, you can rent a campervan. Because you can sleep in the campervan, there are campsites everywhere, both for a fee and for free. When traveling by bus, train or flight, the cost of the overnight stay must still be taken into account. The hostels are cheap here. Extensive research is recommended. Anyone who can still travel through Australia has perfected their semester abroad.
In retrospect, there is little to say: “It was the best time of my life and I will forever remember this sometimes wonderful experience”.