Student Experiences: Liz

Liz in Australia

Why did you want to study abroad, and where did you choose to go?
I wanted to study abroad because I caught the travel bug in high school after a trip to Europe and South America. I chose to travel to London, England for a quarter course and Brisbane, Australia for a semester because I knew traveling like this would be much more difficult after graduating from college. Now was the time to pick up and go see the world! 

Describe your campus and what student life was like.
My campus in Brisbane, Australia was called Australian Catholic University and it was very small, but the university had multiple locations throughout the country. There were no dorms but they did have a small cafe. I think the best thing about my classrooms was that they had air conditioning for those 80 degree days! Student life seemed very minimal. There were clubs to join and sports to play but from what I experienced, there was not much of a community. Because they did not have dorms on campus or nearby, all students were commuters. This essentially meant that they went to class and then went right home. 


Was there a language barrier? And if so, how were you able to get through it?
Though an English speaking country, Aussie slang can be a language barrier all in itself. They do not speak their crazy stereotypical slang all the time, but when they do, it'll make you raise an eyebrow and say, “what the heck is a bogan!?”  

What did you find most challenging throughout your experience?
Where I come from, we do not have public transportation. It was a real mental struggle to force myself to figure out the bus and train system or else I would have spent an atrocious amount of money on Uber. This might not seem like much to others, but I was more terrified about figuring out the bus than I was when I was told I didn't have a visa at the airport (It all worked out). It only took about a week for me to be comfortable thanks to many helpful apps (Google maps!!). 

Beach Liz

What were your accommodations like? 
I lived in a student only apartment building about 20 minutes from my campus. I had four other roommates and we each had our own bedrooms but shared two bathrooms, the living room and kitchen. It was in the neighborhood of Kelvin Grove which is one sunburn directly outside the Central Business District. Very convenient to get what you need but also quiet enough to sleep well at night! 

What did you do in your free time?
You could find me multiple times a week in South Bank hanging at the Street Beach along the Brisbane River! South Bank is the culture center of Brisbane with the colorful Brisbane sign, Brisbane Wheel, many museums and performing arts buildings. Street Beach is a man made beach/pool area and it was my go to spot. Grab a smoothie from Boost smoothie, pick a spot in the sand and enjoy the sun under the palm trees! 

Kangaroo Liz
How did you manage your money abroad?
I had to open a bank account when I arrived in Brisbane in order to get my apartment deposit back after my lease ended (you may be able to begin this process online and see what documents you need to with you to set it up).They have very forward thinking banking apps to use depending on what bank you choose, if you choose to open an account. I was able to track my spending in the app based on categories. Many atm’s also opt for “cardless cash” which means if you have an account hooked up to your app on your phone, you don't need your physical card to withdraw money! Also, our version of Venmo is built right into these apps so transfering money to other people is simple. If you need more money to be transferred into your Aussie account from your US account, I would recommend using TransferWise because it has incredibly low fees, compared to what the banks will charge you!

Overall, how was your experience? And do you have any tips for future students who may be interested in traveling to the same place as you? 
My experience in Brisbane was worth every penny. I made incredible friends and memories that still makes me tear up when I look back on photos. I grew to be such an independent person and I could not be more thankful for my opportunity to live on my own and create my own life in a beautiful country. If I could give any advice to students interested in traveling to Brisbane it would be to bring a sweatshirt! Believe it or not, sometimes it does get slightly chilly. General advice is to simply be open minded and try something new every day. This is your chance to step out of your comfort zone and fully immerse yourself in a new culture. Say yes and live with no regrets of missing out!

Lighthouse Liz