The thought of living abroad, away from home and all the people that you love is truly terrifying. However, the chance to study abroad is something I would do anything to do again…
Flashback to three years ago – the reason why I chose to study at UEA was because they would allow me to study abroad for a semester or year, in Australia, which has always been my dream. All I needed to do was successfully complete my foundation year and get high enough grades in the first and second year of my degree. Therefore my goal was to get the best grades I could and make my dream happen, however, due to dyslexia and other health related reason this was going to be a task in itself. I worked my little butt off trying to get the best grades I could, whilst trying to balance my health and stress levels, which is something that I struggled with every day. When I read that email I remember being in the car with my mum and we were both cheering, my dream was about to be realised. Australia I was coming for you!
1 year before I was due to leave, it was time to apply – the work to get health insurance, a visa and apply for a university in another country is stressful. There is no sugar coating it. However, the hours of work and all the forms I had to read was completely worth it.
I’ve never felt prouder – getting to Australia was due to my own determination and hard work!
Before I knew it I was in Heathrow airport, sitting next to my oversized bags waiting, desperately trying to ignore the terrifying long plane ride ahead of me, and hoping that I would have fun down under. My parents had said to me before this that even if I don’t enjoy it, it would only be about 6 months then I could come home. The possibility of not enjoying the product of all my hard work terrified me.
However, I’m delighted to share that I’ve never been happier than when I was in Australia. I was able to meet people from countries I had never even thought of before, and truly get a greater understanding of the different cultures around the world.
When students think about studying in Australia, often their minds go straight to Melbourne or Sydney, without giving other places a chance. However, studying in Perth was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The activities and experiences available are unlike anything else that is available in other parts of Australia. My first example is Rottnest Island, which is located just off the coast of Fremantle. The whole island used to be an army base for the Australian army and is also home to very important religious grounds for the local aboriginal people. Therefore, there is so much history available on this island, which can be given to people through many very interactive tours. As well as this, the island has been transformed into a nature reserve for one of the rarest creatures on the planet. The Quoka, this animal can only be found on that island and nowhere else. Throughout the island there are thousands of the creatures running around, being very curious about the tourists. Often coming close enough to the tourists for people to take very close, impressive photos with. During my weekend on the island many would come so close they would put a paw on your leg or sit underneath the tables and just look at me. As they are so cute and tame when you walk around the island you see many people lying on the floor trying to take photos with the creatures. Alongside the Quokas, Rottnest has a lot of very impressive activities available, such a snorkelling in one of Australia’s top three spots, the views under the water just off Geordie Bay on the island are incredibly wonderful. Also, skydiving and other adrenaline filled activities are offered to people who choose to visit the island.
The other perks of studying in WA is the wide range of amazing views of the beaches, parks and rivers, which unlike other parts of Australia are not overly busy with tourists. There is an ability to truly experience the Australian culture of living alongside the nature it offers, which I believe is one of the main reasons to study abroad. In Perth my favourite place to visit was Kings Park. The trees in the park have been for hundreds of years and the way it is positioned on the edge of the cliff means that there is an amazing view of the whole of Swan Valley and the skyline of Perth. There are also many hikes around the park as’ it’s so big, allowing you to truly experience the nature and history of Australia together. On the hot summers days it was amazing to take picnics and watch all the boats on the river down below and then take long walks above on the rope bridges in the trees.
It’s true that the people make the place, and after all the glitter parties, laughter and socialising I made some amazing best friends that I will have for life. I’m currently sitting in my bed in my bed in Cambridge, with a smile on my face and a bitter sweet feeling in my stomach. Studying abroad does allow you to experience some amazing things and missing the people I was able to share those experiences with is all part of it.
However, I’m pleased to report that I already have a plane ride booked to Sweden in two weeks to see some of my friends again. And then in December all of them shall be coming to England to experience UEA and Norwich for a weekend. The end of your studying abroad does not mean that, that is the end of your friendships. Home is where the heart is, and my heart will always remain with all those amazing people.
Annabel is a UEA Film and Television student who studied at Murdoch University for the Spring Semester.