Upon arriving in Australia, my first and most obvious concern was fitting into life at a new university, making friends and immersing myself into a new and exciting culture. I decided that my best bet in doing this successfully was to throw myself into as many experiences and opportunities as I could before semester started, so that I could explore my surroundings and meet new friends.
So, with this in mind, I booked a three day trip to Lorne with the international team, and celebrated my birthday there learning how to surf, (even in winter!), how to appreciate ocean awareness, and meeting the local wildlife. On my way back from Lorne I also drove along the historic Great Ocean Road, stopping at popular sites along the way (Bell’s beach, the 12 Apostles, London Bridge etc – all of which were truly stunning). I found that by going on this trip I was able to meet many new people from different walks of life, many of which were international students like myself, and who were all feeling the same nerves and excitement as I was. I would definitely recommend taking a little trip like this (which was organised by Victoria University) before teaching begins, I found myself a lot more relaxed after the visit and began to see myself being able to live here for a year, and I definitely made some great friends there.
Starting University at Victoria: Semester one
I definitely found myself worried about settling into a new University. I found myself stressing about meeting new teachers, not being able to find my campus, grasping new teaching methods, and delving into new subjects I had not before learned. Surprisingly, I found the switch from learning British law to Australian law to be pretty straight-forward, and I also found that my teachers were very understanding of the fact that I was an international student studying new subjects – their welcoming and reassuring attitude definitely boosted my confidence as I began learning. I wanted to come to Australia to gain a better understanding of how English helped shape another countries legal system, and throughout semester one I definitely achieved this goal.
How studying abroad is benefiting me academically
I definitely think that studying a year overseas has changed the way I write, grasp information, and has helped me see that I can achieve more than what I used to think I could achieve. Learning new subjects alongside my law units has also been incredibly helpful in advancing my writing skills. Studying Sociology, History and Criminal Justice modules has helped me see the contrast between different styles of writing compared to legal studies. I’m definitely looking forward to having the upper hand in terms of international legal knowledge when studying Law again in the UK, especially when choosing my third year modules.
How studying abroad is benefiting my personal development
For me, this has definitely been the biggest change. I am fully aware of how much I have grown since arriving here last July, and that is definitely exciting to see. I am much more confident in my ability to look after myself, solve problems efficiently, and more importantly plan for my future. Seeing parts of the world I have not before seen has allowed me to open my eyes in realising just how many opportunities are out there, and now having and sharing this knowledge is truly inspirational. I really do think that studying abroad is an experience that cannot just be read about to be understood – it is a personal journey of global exploration and understanding that you just have to experience firsthand! I can truly say that I am proud of the things I have accomplished since arriving in Australia, I have learned so much about myself, other cultures, and have made friends that I know I will have for a lifetime – don’t miss out!
My top tips for studying abroad
Although the transition from living and studying in England to living on the other side of the world was surprisingly easy, I do still have tips for making the first couple of weeks a little less stressful:
- Accept that you CANNOT plan every tiny detail before you leave! – This was a biggie for me. By all means, plan as much as you can and don’t leave everything until the last minute, but try not to stress about smaller details and accept that some things you just have to sort out when you get there! (I.e. new phone number, opening a bank account etc).
- Take every opportunity to try to make new friends – Making good friends will make your time so much more enjoyable, and at times when you may get homesick, good support will go a long way.
- Take the opportunity to do things you might not normally do – Whether it is skydiving, kayaking, or simply just choosing a new and exciting module that interests you, studying abroad is the perfect time to try out new and exciting things and really boost your confidence.
- Try to stay positive – There is no guarantee that every little detail is going to go according to plan, you may feel homesick from time to time, or may just experience some hiccups along the way. It is important to try to stay positive at times like these and remember that you have the support to solve any issue you may face.
- Be open to change – Start your exchange with an open mind and a willingness to adapt to a new environment.