From Exams to the Sea: What's It Like to Study in AustraliaFebruary 04, 2019

You're about to look forward to your second year at the university, but something is holding you back. It's not a short list of what you could have done during your first year, which could have turned your first term into an outstanding one. It's rather the sight of teenagers setting foot in your campus, hoping to be admitted next year. One of them happens to be a foreign-looking youth, who doesn't seem to have a clue on what it's like to study in Australia. Your hunch is confirmed when that foreign applicant asks you that question.

You could recount your heightened feelings whenever you head to Bondi. It's not that far from where you're based at the moment, but it's nothing compared to Perth, your hometown. Post-lecture dip won't be a myth at all, which your flatmate find it hard to believe. (You can't blame him, as he comes from Toronto.) You could recount your mixed feeling during the final day of the Hopman Cup, which is held in Perth Arena. You were delighted that Switzerland defended the title, yet you were sad that this team tennis tournament, which featured a mixed-doubles match, might be its last edition. You changed your mind (and held your tongue) when you sensed that you might be facing a Novak Djokovic fan. You may be thinking too much, though. And you could bask on the sunny days, probably the warmest during the last few years. You wouldn't gloat about it on social media, as you're aware of the drop in temperature in the northern hemisphere. You haven't answered the question. Yet.

You can recommend the tennis courts and trendy cafes, but these (young) visitors may not be interested in both. They are determined to get an unconditional offer from their respective (admissions) tutors. They may be polite (in how they ask you), but you can see the seriousness in their faces.

The Perks of Being a University Student in Australia

There are plenty of activities during the weekend. You know what quokka looks like, but foreigners, who aspire to study in Australia, don't have a clue. You would be happy to describe it for them, but nothing beats the real thing. (You can give them the directions to the local zoo.) The same thing goes with marsupial, which is native to Western Australia. (You should know better, but you're not here to boast about it.) Social life is anything but dull in Oz, which your long-distance cousin acknowledges with hardly an expression. (He's a native of Newcastle, England.)

Residential staff patrols the buildings where you live. This may disappoint some visitors, who may be aware of what is like to study in Great Britain. You didn't apply for a place in the university for an unlimited number of parties. You must pursue an undergraduate degree, and meeting all the requirements is the only way to do it. Self discipline goes a long way, and early sleep is one way to do it. (You didn't tell them that it must be 10 PM.)

Students must write a summary of their readings. It might make the coursework more demanding, which those who are aware of the UK system would point out. Then again, practice makes perfect. In other words, the discomfort is temporary. Aspiring students won't see the big picture, where attendance won't be graded at all. (It's not the case in British universities.) You figure it out, during your first month no less, that this kind of system favours the students who participate more in such activities. This makes them more interested in the coursework. And you can attest that there are days when you don't dread the upcoming week, where there's a succession of deadlines and examinations.

What You Must Know about Young Australians

Aussie teens don’t move out of their parents’ home when they are about to enter the university. It’s not the case in the United Kingdom, as your old man would point out, but it doesn’t make you less than your British counterparts. You’re close to your parents. (You look forward to your next visit to Matilda Bay.)

Student halls don’t have a common kitchen, which may prove an obstacle for first-year students who want to socialise with other students. There are many ways of meeting new people in the universities. It might take you months before you show your extroverted side (or turn into a bit of an extrovert), but the efforts (or struggles) would be worth it. (You still miss your old mates, though.)

Foreign applicants might find it odd to see some student halls being leased to high school students who are below 18 years old. You didn’t see any wrong about it. (You’re an open-minded teenager, having gone on a backpacking trip, with your old mates, in Indochina last winter.) This shouldn’t be a problem in the long run.

Other than the above, studying in Australia is nothing short of stunning. You won’t mind repeating it to those who aspire to study at your university. You only wish that there are more pristine beaches (like in Western Australia).

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