A holiday within a holiday

After having one of the most amazing weeks in Cairns, coming back to reality is not the best feeling. However, the memories from this trip will certainly be in my mind forever, and I can safely say it has been an incredible journey.

The first day we just relaxed by the man-made lagoon on the esplanade. After sun-bathing, eating lots of delicious food and partying at Gilligans, we were ready to start going on some adventures. The first one was an excursion into the rainforest. We swam in creeks, went down nature’s water-slide, and swam under the Milla-milla waterfall. (shout out to our awesome guide, Linzi!). The day after we went scuba-diving and snorkelling around none other than the Great Barrier reef. Its true what they say…they don’t call it great for nothing.

Following the GBR, we went to Cape tribulation, which is where the rainforest meets the ocean. We even stayed in the rainforest overnight, and actually survived. Having no phone reception or wifi for 48 hours was challenging yet eye-opening. On the last day, we went horse riding on the beach and managed to canter quite a lot.

Overall, it was definitely a trip of a lifetime and this footage doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

A day at the Museum of Contemporary Art

While we still have some free time on our hands, my friend and I were thinking of something we could do that was fun, nearby and free- we are students don’t judge. So we thought to check out the Museum of contemporary art. Its situated right on George street, in the rocks area, so it is easy to get to and there is a beautiful view of the harbour bridge and the opera house from the cafe on level 4. museum First we decided to check out level 1 where there was an exhibition called Energies, by Australian artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. There was a massive interactive screen which you could control with your hand and body alignment, and also, a sound-proof room where there was complete silence and (supposedly) you could hear your own heartbeat. 11830070_10153454667704449_968993230_n

After that we went up to level 2, where there were some cool paintings and other artsy stuff (you can probably tell I’m not a connoisseur of the arts). 11805985_10153454667249449_1957526259_n11815898_10153454667354449_1239464953_nThe good stuff was on level 3 however. There was an exhibition called “My fellow Aus-tra-aliens”  by who is now my new favourite artist: Aleks Danko. His dark humour and outstanding creativity really made this my favourite part of the museum.

“Danko creates objects that take language and attempt to make it into something more concrete. These are works that are designed to be read aloud. You will find yourself uttering and muttering as you unravel the playful pieces.”

This was exactly what we did: stared at the art and read everything that we thought was funny, out loud. But since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a whole essay for ya:

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cocky=cockroach

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HARBOUR BRIDGE

Careful what you wish for- cause you just might get it

I purposely waited a long time before writing my second blog post because I wanted to have done everything on my list. Now I am actually sitting in my room, in Sydney, listening to a siren and trying to concentrate- crazy how fast life moves huh?!

So upon reading my first post Sydney calling ,I realise how blind we are before flying off to another country. By this I mean, I was so hung up on fixing my Visa and getting all the paperwork sorted that it never actually sunk in that I am going to live, study and work (hopefully)  on the other side of the world for 6 months. So advice number one to future exchange students  would probably be don’t stress it. Enjoy the anticipation and embrace the feeling of excitement for the unknown!

Having said that…it really helps to get things done before you leave, if you can. So some tips as to what you can think about before leaving:

1)Bank account and money transfer: For Australia specifically I opened up a student bank account online with Commonwealth bank . This was really helpful because I could send money over before even arriving in Australia (note however that you cannot take money out until you show up with your ID for obvious reasons). The way I transferred money was via TransferWise . It was by far the easiest, fastest and most economical way. However, you do also want to have some cash on you as soon as you arrive so I ordered Australian dollars from Travelex.

2)Visa: Now this was quite a struggle to say the least as I was awaiting the confirmation of enrolment letter from the University…and it was sent to me a month before the semester was meant to start. Although the application for the Visa itself was very easy- all done online. Just be patient and do your research as to what Visa you need.

3)Choose modules/units: I was not sure which modules to pick so I just went with three that seemed quite interesting. Keep in mind that its easier once you are actually at the University and usually you have about a week after the start of semester to change your mind. So don’t panic if you are unsure.

4)Accommodation: After asking around I had the impression that the better option (for Sydney) was to avoid student accommodation and find something by myself. So after staying in a hostel for 5 days I looked around but did not really see any rooms that were right for me. So in the end I went with the student accommodation and I am so glad I did. Keep in mind that when you are going away for one semester to a place where you don’t know anyone, student halls can be a good way to meet people. Sydney is an extremely expensive city to live in…and I mean extremely. But I highly recommend the student halls I am staying at, called Queen Mary. The price is quite good for what they offer, and they offer A LOT (including pool tables, a roof-garden, 2 sky lounges, a movie theatre and a huge study area). So my advise for finding accommodation would be to go with the student halls, especially if you are only on exchange for one semester…it makes things easier.

All in all, the best advice I can give is the most cliché one: do not stress, just do your research and enjoy the experience! 

I promise my next posts will not be as boring as this one…now its time to actually explore Australia! (Oh yeah and the University of course)

Some pictures of Sydney so far: although they really don’t do it justice!

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Evening View from Queen Mary

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Bondi

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View of the harbour bridge, from the ferry

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Manly beach

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The rocks

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Morning view from the Queen Mary

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Yes- there is a graffiti tunnel at the University

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Tamarama beach

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Bondi beach

Sydney calling

11025741_10153116945924449_8847467612924295969_n And so it begins! After months of nail-biting and Sydney-dreaming I received official confirmation that I will indeed be attending the University of Sydney in July. So through my blog I will be describing every step of the way, sometimes via written articles and sometimes via videos. It will mainly be addressed to students that wish to embark upon a similar journey but by all means, if you are a random person stumbling upon this blog you can still have a read-through…you never know right?

Although spending a semester overseas will entail hard work, like fixing a visa, accommodation, flights, funding and skyping my supervisor from the other side of the world, it will be worth it!

But before I start dreaming about koalas and “chucking shrimp on the barbie mate” first things first:

GETTING ORGANISED

Of course before you do any type of organising you must follow the 3-step procedure: Complain about everything you need to do, Make a list about everything you need to do, Eventually do everything you need to do. Number one is done to the max…trust me. So now its make-a-list time:

  1. Receive email from host University
  2. Follow application procedure from email of host University
  3. Get Student (?) Visa
  4. Research bursaries and funding
  5. Choose modules
  6. Find accommodation
  7. Book flight tickets ($$$)
  8. Meet with supervisor before departure
  9. Meet with other future Sydney students before departure
  10. Some other paperwork for sure

So stay tuned whilst I tackle this list one item at a time…