Australia. The name brings to mind endless sandy beaches, never-ending sunshine and an all-round relaxed attitude.
Travellers and expatriates alike flock to Australia because of the healthy economy and fascinating landscape. As an Australian overseas, I come across many people who express their love for Australia, whether they have actually been there or not, and they ask why I would want to leave the sun and seaside. I suppose the reason I left Australia is the same reason I would recommend you go there: it IS different to the rest of the world. On the whole, the student life is an easy life; we do have barbeques on the beach, come and go from class as we please, and some people actually do wear shorts all year round (but the poisonous animal bit is a foreign myth. No one in the metropolitan area thinks twice about spiders and snakes). Is study in Australia one big holiday, though? Will it really challenge you? Is it worthwhile? As a successful graduate, I would argue yes, but perhaps not for the reasons you would think. Why do international students flock to Australia?
1.Freedom of speech: As a student, you have a great deal of autonomy. Unlike in some classroom situations overseas, tutors and lecturers ultimately facilitate discussion, and disagreeing with them and other students can demonstrate independent thought and active comprehension of the course content. It is not about arguing, it is about applying your own personal context to the information you are presented with and showing how this affects your understanding. This is particularly true for the arts, but the generally informal nature of Australian tutorials lends itself to a lot of student/teacher interactions. Studying in Australia is a chance to speak up.
2. Develop independence: Studying in Australia is generally fairly flexible, with options to choose which tutorial suits you. As many lectures are recorded and streamed online, you sometimes don’t even need to attend, though this facility is really for if you have a timetable clash, or want to re-watch your lecture in order to revise. It is easy to skive off as the generally laidback Australian attitude applies to tertiary education, too, so this is a chance for you to develop good time management and self-discipline, and perhaps also to figure out what you value. Study in Australia allows you to plan your time so that you have a fair bit spare, which means you might find more time for hobbies and extracurricular activities. There are a lot of outdoorsy-type activities and weekends away offered at some unis, but as student life is not huge you will likely develop some more independence and have to take a more active role in how you plan your time. You are permitted to work on a student visa as well, and working while studying is very common for Australian students.
3. High standard of education: Australia boast a world top-100 in almost every state, which means that wherever you choose to head, the standard of education will be very high. There are also a range of less academically focused unis, such as Edith Cowan located in inner city Perth, which are very accessible to international students and offer a range of courses. The University of Melbourne is Australia’s number 1 institution, ranked at 44th in the world. Many universities also have excellent exchange programmes making the move over a lot easier.
4. Learn about Aboriginal culture: Depending on where you end up, the prevalence of Aboriginal culture may be quite minimal. While the contemporary cultural climate does not seem very interesting, it is very rewardingto study Aboriginal history and make the effort to understand Australia as an extremely old and rich country rather than a young nation constituted by coastal cities. Embrace any opportunity to study this inspiring cultural system, whether it’s through trips to the bush, art exhibitions or Aboriginal history electives. And, most importantly, keep an open mind. The Aboriginal people you come across on the street may not be indicative of the culture as a whole. You can’t properly study Australian Aboriginal history anywhere else in the world, and it really has a resonant spirituality and tranquillity to it.
5. Focus on where you are: Unlike many other countries you could study in, Australia is not really close to any other country. You could travel 4 hours and hear exactly the same accent and see pretty much the same landscape. Western, modern Australia is quite homogenous. But this allows you to really immerse yourself in the Australian way of life without being distracted by jetting off to another city for the weekend. You’ll find yourself actually spending time in the place you chose to visit instead of using it as a base to head off to other places from. Your Australian experience will be quintessentially Australian, and for that reason it will be unlike any other experience you could have.
Find out more about Studying in Australia.