Since my German university did not have a cooperation university in Melbourne, but I really wanted to do my semester abroad there, I organized it myself as a free mover. With the help of MicroEDU , the application process went smoothly and quickly, so that I was ready to start planning all other things such as international health insurance, visas and flights in February. As a student, STA not only gives you particularly good advice, you also get a discount when booking flights; Highly Recommended.
The first days in my new home and my accommodation
Seamlessly went for me the transition from the fourth semester in Germany for the fifth semester in Australia, because were still in the middle of the test phase while my fellow students went for me on July 17, the flight to Melbourne. However, the transition between the seasons was not that seamless: from midsummer to the deepest, windy Australian winter. But that’s how I chose it, so the weather was defied!
In my first accommodation, an Airbnb in a large apartment complex, I felt very comfortable from day one. Not only the gym and the pool that belonged to the house contributed to this, but also my two roommates, who were always available for a chat or a meal together. Contrary to many recommendations to look for accommodation directly on site during the first few days, I booked the Airbnb from home because I wanted to save myself the stress of looking for an apartment. In retrospect, that was absolutely the right decision in my opinion. Because for some later fellow students it was not easy to find an apartment, and there was hardly any difference in price. For living in Melbourne’s suburbs, plan on budgeting $ 600-800 a month. If you want to live directly in the CBD (central business district, i. e. the city center), the rental price increases a good bit to about twice as much.
After the mid-term break, I changed my accommodation. Airbnb was only available until mid-September and I also enjoyed the opportunity to get to know two parts of the city better. Since Swinburne University of Technology is in Hawthorn, I chose the districts of Richmond and St Kila to live, as I lived between the city center and Swinburne University of Technology and reached everything within 30-45 minutes by public trams or metros.
The study and the courses
During the orientation week, I quickly made new contacts; to my amazement, the majority of the exchange students were also from Germany. Nonetheless, I also proactively approached students from foreign countries so that I was able to make friends with students from Ecuador, Colombia, Denmark, Korea and Spain. After getting to know the city a little in the first week thanks to a city rally, many joint restaurant visits and sightseeing tours, the lectures could start at the end of July. Fortunately, my three selected subjects were so that I only had university from Tuesday to Thursday, so that nothing stood in the way of long weekends.
The lectures were very similar to those in Germany: the professor presented and the students listened. The tutorials, on the other hand, reminded me much more of school life than of university. The number of students was between 15 and 20 students in a tutorial, so that group work, presentations and discussions were on the daily schedule and were also easily possible due to the size of the group. The formation of the overall grade for each subject was also unusual for me. In the “Innovative Business Practice” course, for example, I didn’t have an exam at all, for a total of nine submissions spread over the semester, consisting of essays, online quizzes, video pitches, etc. In the other two subjects “Consumer Behavior” and “Introduction to Management”, in addition to the exams, I had two or three submissions during the twelve Semester weeks. Even if three subjects don’t seem like much compared to the German workload, the sum of the fees gives you a good idea that I wasn’t only able to use my lecture-free days to travel and explore. On the contrary, the research-intensive reports and essays required a lot of time to read into the topics, search for literature and, of course, write. Even if the change was relatively difficult, especially at the beginning, I noticed a significant improvement towards the end. noticeable improvement. The content of the chosen courses was always exciting and new to me. Due to the large number of tasks, I was “forced” to stay on the topic throughout the semester, which ultimately led to sustainable learning of the material.
The language wasn’t too great a barrier. Since I already had lectures in English at my home university and the Australian pronunciation is easy to understand after a short period of getting used to it, it only took a few days before I understood everything well.
According to answerresume, Swinburne University of Technology has several locations, each with its own campus, so that all buildings on the Hawthorn campus I visited were within walking distance. There were also a few cafes and restaurants with student-friendly offers for lunch and coffee breaks spread across the property; Unfortunately, the university does not have a cafeteria. In the library there are different volume levels on the different floors, so that you could sit down in the library for group work, as conversations on the second floor, for example, did not bother anyone.
Offers at the university
In addition to conveying learning content, Swinburne University of Technology offers countless offers, both for studying and for leisure time. I was able to attend workshops on topics such as “Report writing: format, structure and style” or “Avoid plagiarising: use in-text referencing and reference lists” in order to receive support for the work to be submitted. That was a huge help, as some formalities differ from the German ones and a different citation style was used. In addition, there was a service desk in the library, where you could have your first drafts checked or individual questions answered.
Not only in the orientation week, but also in the very first week of lectures or the week after the mid-term break, there were various stands in the atrium of the campus where you could win drinks vouchers or drinking bottles, information on services related to topics such as security or Bullying received and, more importantly, a lot of free food. Swinburne University of Technology really goes to great lengths to offer its students the most pleasant and varied possible everyday study experience.
The range of clubs and sporting events is also huge. From the “Explorer Club” to the “Vegan Society” to the “Disney Society”, everything is really represented. Personally, I mainly used the sporting offers to try out new sports such as cheerleading, yoga and boxing. The nearby swimming pool was also accessible free of charge for Swinburne students, so you could work out as often as you wanted. Great service all round, so the tuition fees have paid off.
Speaking of sports: of course, I think of football right away. The Australians are passionate about their “footy teams”, so the day before the Grand Final even a public holiday was introduced across Victoria. I got infected by this enthusiasm and watched a football game. Via Facebook I came into contact with an entrepreneur who founded SportsHost. Your company brings locals and travelers together to watch a game together. This is a special experience in that you have a fan by your side who can answer the many questions you have about the rules as a newcomer. We were also lucky enough to be able to watch the game in the fan curve. So we were right in the middle of it all and were even allowed to keep the fan scarves as a memento. A really great experience.
Aside from football, Australians love food. However, I couldn’t name a typical dish like the Italians have pizza and pasta, the Spaniards tapas or the Greeks gyros and tzatziki. Due to the diverse influences of immigrants from Asia and Europe, you will find a wide variety of food offers from all over the world in Melbourne; Especially burgers, sushi, dumplings or fish and chips can be seen on almost every street corner. What they definitely celebrate is the “brekkie”, or breakfast. The sweet pancakes or granola bowls and hearty egg and avocado toasts are more elaborate and beautiful in one café than in another. There is of course coffee, the best I have ever drunk. The city is also known for this: for its numerous “hidden cafes”, that is, small cafes hidden in alleys and with super friendly service. After a friendly and serious “Hey lovely, how are you?” Greeting, it is not uncommon for you to have a brief conversation with them about the weather or the day. It’s the same at the supermarket checkout or in a clothing store. At first it might seem a bit intrusive, but you quickly learn to appreciate and enjoy the nice small talks and the unfamiliar openness.
The special thing about Melbourne
What also makes the city so special are its various districts, each of which has its own special charm. Fitzroy is totally hip with lots of second-hand shops, alternative cafes and colorful graffiti streets. Hawthorn, the district in which Swinburne University of Technology is also located, shines with countless restaurants, bars and cafes with budget-friendly offers, as some colleges are also located here. In the CBD you will find one rooftop bar after the other, skyscrapers, sights and lots of shopping opportunities in malls or outlets.
Another thing that defines Melbourne is the people. The city is so multicultural that it would be difficult for me to describe the typical Australian based on external or characteristic features. This was also reflected in Swinburne University of Technology. The large number of students who either spent a semester abroad there or completed their entire bachelor’s or master’s degree made the class composition very colorful and varied. Although I was out and about with Germans and Swiss people a lot in my free time, at university I almost exclusively had contact with Australians and Asians – a mixed bag.
As already mentioned, thanks to my compact lecture days, I had many days off at my disposal. After the work was done, these were of course also used to explore not only the city but also the country. So in August I spent a long weekend in the “red center” of the continent, the outback. Because if you haven’t seen the famous Uluru, you haven’t been to Australia, right? So we were impressed by the red stone formations and spent the nights under the open sky; an incredibly impressive and unique experience.
We spent the mid-term break (a lecture-free week in half of the semester) on the west coast. There we rented two cars for eight and started a road trip. Along the almost 1,500 km from Esperance to Geraldton, we stopped at the various places along the coast and experienced one highlight after the other.
Of course we also drove along the Great Ocean Road, where I saw the most impressive sunrise of my life so far. And for a few days we also explored the affectionately called “little New Zealand of Australia”, Tasmania. Since my two exams fell on the first and second day, my semester was already over on November 3rd and I was able to use the remaining time to travel. In addition to the Fiji Islands, I traveled along the east coast of Australia and ended up spending another week in New Zealand. The region really has so much to offer. From beautiful beaches to impressive rocky bays to hilly, deep green landscapes there is something for everyone. You can also see so many animals, one of which is cuter than the other: kangaroos, koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, etc. So plan enough time and budget to explore the countries.
During the months I learned not only a lot of technical things, but also a lot personally, and so I developed a little further. Above all, I tried to take away as much as possible from the openness, friendliness and above all “enjoying life” and less stress.
At the end of this semester, I can now say that it was absolutely the right decision to listen to my gut instinct and to fulfill my wish to stay in Melbourne. After my experiences and impressions, I can confirm that the city was rightly voted the most livable city in the world several times in a row. It was definitely an expensive investment, but it was worth it.