Rebecca, studying at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.
Happy New Year from sunny South Australia!
The novelty of having back to front seasons hasn’t quite worn off yet, but I write this is the middle of my summer holidays. Australia is well known for being one of the greatest travel destinations in the world, and the way our time is structured here, starting at semester 2 before starting semester 1 in February, there is ample time to explore one of the world’s greatest countries over the summer break. Over the past few months I have road tripped along the Great Ocean Road, sailed the Whitsundays, become a qualified scuba diver on the Great Barrier Reef, gone skydiving, attempted surfing and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Living in Australia gives you the chance to fit a gap year into a few weeks.
My introduction to my year abroad came from reading Bill Bryson’s book Down Under, where he very accurately summarized that “Adelaide is to Australia essentially what Australia is to the world — a place pleasantly regarded but far away and seldom thought about.” There aren’t enough words to summarise how much I enjoy living in South Australia, so I shall do it with emojis:
Flinders University is situated roughly half an hour from the city of Adelaide, the “city of churches” and much much more. The main university campus is 15 minutes from beautiful beaches, and under an hour from the world famous vineyards of the Barossa Valley and McClaren Vale, and Port Adelaide, home to the only wild dolphins in the world that live within a city.
Adelaide is a small, compact city, with many highlights. Bordered by parklands on all four sides, most of the nightclubs are situated on one street and the shopping “mall” is a wide, open-air street of shops. These main streets run alongside North Terrace which is lined with museums, parliament buildings and two universities, which is opposite the Oval, home to AFL, international cricket and concerts, and a river dotted with picturesque bridges, pedalos and black swans. Adelaide might as well also be the city of brunch, there are cafes upon cafes where you can get instagram worthy breakfast. Australian coffee is heaps better than British coffee. And chocolate? Destinations for ice cream, desserts or hot chocolate are everywhere, and going out for dessert is one of the main habits I shall definitely be carrying with me back to London. #foodporn
Beaches are one of the highlights of living in Australia, greater timetable flexibility means that beach trips are no longer confined to the weekend and there’s nothing quite like a South Australian beach sunset. University classes follow a similar structure to UCL however the casual more relaxed Aussie attitude makes it easier to both engage in debate and ask for help. In fact the only drawback of studying at Flinders for an Arts and Sciences student is that Flinders epitomizes the concept of academic silos, with two hills and a lake separating the humanities from the sciences buildings!
This semester I was lucky enough to study an Aboriginal studies module. This encouraged us to break away from “traditional, Western” dominant culture forms of studying such as referencing, and incorporate poetry and artwork in our essays and assignments. I had lectures in art galleries and open fields, lecturers who rapped and burst into song, and presentations where we were encouraged to express our ideas through song, dance and drama.
The Australian system of halls is also different to UK, with many people staying in halls or colleges for most or all of their degree years. The five south Australian colleges then compete in sports, debating and hold shared events such as “battle of the bands” or toga parties. “Swotvac” or revision periods are more pressured with heavily enforced noise curfews, but “swotivites” are put in place to relief the stress, involving free ice cream, and even a petting zoo coming to halls, stroke a rabbit or pet a goat and all your worries will disappear!
My main advice for study abroad is to do everything, try everything, and appreciate the weather!
Feel free to contact me for advice anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to checkout #BAScAbroad on Instagram to see the highlights of this year’s cohort’s time abroad.