During my master’s degree I spent a semester at the University of New South Wales (UNSW, see AbbreviationFinder) in Sydney and got to know people from different parts of the world. Looking back, I had an unforgettable time in Sydney.
At the beginning of my master’s degree, I applied several times to the International Office at my home university. Since these applications were either unsuccessful or did not meet my top priorities, I decided to go abroad as a freemover. In retrospect, I am very happy to have chosen this path.
On the one hand, the organizational effort involved in planning a semester abroad is not significantly higher if, as a freemover, you get help from a placement agency such as MicroEDU. Such agencies work closely with universities from many countries and make the organizational work easier for you and from the perspective of the university abroad. In addition, freemovers from Germany who want to study at UNSW can enroll in three instead of the four mandatory courses. Since the effort per course at Australian universities is comparatively high during the semester, you have significantly more time to travel if you take three courses.
By and large, the start-up phase was stress-free and smooth. It is sufficient to submit your application to MicroEDU in August or September if you want to go abroad in February of the following year. A few weeks after applying through MicroEDU , I received an acceptance from UNSW.
I booked the flight to Sydney through the STA Education Service. I did not get the cheapest flight connection, but it was a fairly comfortable flight connection, since all in all only one change was required in Dubai. I asked the travel agency about the flight prices in October and December and couldn’t find any significant difference. The flight can also be booked later (in my case two months before the departure date).
I arrived in Sydney in mid-February just before the UNSW orientation week. I stayed in a hostel for the first few days after my arrival. During the O week I got to know most of the foreign and exchange students (UNSW is very international) and received useful information about the university and everyday things in life.
In the first few weeks you should definitely get an Australian prepaid SIM card. This is particularly relevant for those who are looking for a flat on their own. If you want to work alongside your studies, you should also have an Australian bank account and a tax file number.
The most common form of public transport in Sydney is the bus, especially near the campus, as the city is generally very hilly, so cycling in the summer can be very tiring. There are also several train lines in the center of the city. However, they do not extend to the campus, and work is being done to expand the train lines.
Basically, there is either the option of living directly on campus or looking for a private room in a shared apartment, which may be shared with one or more people depending on the available budget. The rent differences between dormitory rooms and rooms in shared apartments near the campus are insignificant. Usually, a deposit is required in both cases, which can be very different for private rentals. The deposit for the dormitories on campus is approximately AUD 1,000.
A single room in shared accommodation can cost between AUD 250 and AUD 350 per week in Coogee / Randwick / Kensington (near UNSW). If you share the flat share with someone else (as in my case), you usually pay between 180 and 200 AUD per week. Dormitory rooms including half or full occupancy are significantly more expensive than privately rented rooms in shared flats. Nonetheless, the dormitory places are very popular among international students, so there is no guarantee that you will get a place. However, regardless of the result, a fee of AUD 100 to apply for a place in a dormitory is still to be paid.
I really enjoyed living in an ordinary flat share close to the beach and UNSW. On the one hand, I didn’t miss the lively campus life or the opportunity to meet people outside of the university.
It should be noted that finding a flat in Sydney is straightforward. There are a lot of applicants there too, but it doesn’t take long to find a place to stay, even if you didn’t do your research online before departure. It only took me four days to find accommodation. In general, it is recommended that you only start the search for a flat share upon arrival in Australia or, in the case of online commitments, not pay any advance payments and get an idea of the flat share again on site.
Another note on the housing situation in Sydney: Although the Australian winter is much milder than the German winter, very few shared apartments and dormitories have heating. So it can be that it is colder inside than outside at night. Therefore you should pack some warm clothes to be on the safe side.
The 12-week lectures lasted from the beginning of March to the end of May. The examination phase took place in June. At UNSW, 80 percent of the lectures must be attended in each course. This is because the lectures are designed to be very interactive. After the lecture there are usually smaller exercises and group presentations or discussions between the students. The students must be active throughout the semester (e. g. through oral participation, online quizzes, presentations, case studies, reports, simulation games). In very few courses, exams are written at the end of the semester. In my case (Marketing Master), the course level was lower and overall significantly more practice-oriented than at my home university. However, I had many more options and was able to immerse myself in interesting marketing areas that are not offered at my home university.
The huge, modernly equipped campus of the UNSW has everything a student’s heart desires: library, bookstore, cafés, restaurants, pharmacy, medical center, small supermarkets, a club (which is currently being renovated), and much more. You can also join numerous societies and find like-minded people there.
There is not much time to travel during the semester. There is only a one-week mid-semester break. You should therefore travel either before, at the beginning and / or after your semester abroad if you are planning a longer stay in other areas of Australia, New Zealand or Asia. Alternatively, your own timetable can be designed so that excursions over a long weekend are possible.
Smaller weekend trips around Sydney are also recommended, especially if you are on a tight budget. The Northern Beaches, Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park are even easily accessible by public transport.
The tours offered by UNSW for international students are usually overpriced. Instead, it is advisable to join the student organization Arc in order to get discounts and significantly cheaper tours.
Overall, Australia has something to offer for every type of traveler, regardless of whether you are exploring the country as a group in a rental car or as an individual tourist on booked tours. Sometimes there are cheap flight deals. Since the country is very extensive, flying is recommended if the time frame is limited.
Cost of living
Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in Australia. Rent ranges from A $ 200 to A $ 350 per week (and beyond). Depending on how often you use public transport, up to 60 AUD per month can be charged for it. Cheaper trips are possible on Sundays and outside of rush hour. Away eating out and especially the alcohol and tobacco are very expensive. There is no cheap cafeteria like at a German university at UNSW. Instead, smaller stalls and restaurants offer slightly cheaper dishes (e. g. Chinese, Indian) compared to eating out. When it comes to food, fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products in particular are very expensive compared to Germany.
In order to really enjoy Sydney, it is best to fall back on savings. The hourly wages for student jobs in Australia are comparatively high. However, the number of hours students can work per week is limited. Furthermore, you are usually so busy with your studies that a part-time job makes traveling during the semester even more difficult.
The time in Sydney remains unforgettable for me. I had the great opportunity to have many enriching experiences, to develop myself personally, to get to know new cultures and to develop new interests (e. g. for Asian countries).