The preparation with MicroEDU went really well. Irmante is a great contact person who can answer questions very competently and quickly.
I chose the DAAD as a language test. I can warmly recommend this in the event that my own university offers it (in Münster, where I study, for example, it is possible). If I remember correctly, it costs around 30 euros, which is a big advantage compared to the TOEFL test, which is several hundred euros.
I chose my courses when I applied. If anyone happened to want to study psychology at Swinburne University, I’d like to say that I didn’t get any of the clinical Masters courses I applied for. However, this was not a big problem for me, because I was still missing an import anyway and it made sense for me to get a taste of other areas of psychology. Ultimately, I chose one forensics and two human resource courses, which the University of Münster will, however, credit as work and organizational psychology courses. Visit educationvv.com to get information about University of California Irvine student exchange program.
Applying for a visa for Australia is very easy compared to a visa for the USA (for which you have to drive to the American embassy in Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt). It is just an online application. After hearing nothing about my visa for almost a month, I called the Australian embassy to see how my application was going. I learned that my application was approved on the same day as the application and that there were only problems with the emails, so I didn’t find out about it earlier.
I booked the flights through the travel agency Sta-Travel. I felt well advised there and even saved a little compared to the prices I had previously smoked on the Internet myself. One of the reasons for this was that Sta-Travel was able to give me a student discount at Emirates.
I took care of the apartment in advance. On the Internet I came across a dormitory called “Hawthorn House”, which is less than five minutes’ walk from Swinburne University. In general, it can be said that living in Australia or Melbourne is very expensive and you have to expect to pay more than at home. The Hawthorn House is a dormitory with single and double apartments, whereby the double apartments had their own kitchen, while the single residents use the large kitchen in the common room. There is also a sofa corner, a pool table and a washroom for all residents. In total, the dormitory accommodated around 50 students, who, as I learned, came from around 25 different countries this semester. Accordingly, one could make many acquaintances and make friends. For female interested parties, however, I would like to say that, for whatever reason, mainly male residents enlivened the house.
As mentioned earlier, I took three courses at Swinbure University: Forensic Psychology, Human Capital Analytics and Talent Management. My favorite part of it was Forensic Psychology. The professor was very personable and competent and made the lecture exciting and clear. Talent management has been quite good so far, although I would rather advise against Human Capital Analytics (at least if Mr. W. should still be giving the course).
Overall, I was a little difficult with the grading. The University of Münster at least converts the grades so that it is only 1. 0; 2. 0; 3. 0 etc. there and nothing in between. In Australia, however, the top grade is very difficult to achieve, especially in the Masters, and is not often given. Since I was on grade two for a long time, I quickly felt pressured out of fear that my semester abroad would lower my grade point average. Ultimately, I am satisfied with the grades in two of my three courses and am fortunate enough not to have the grade of the third course credited to me at home.
What I didn’t like so much about the university was the principle of group homework. Every group member got the same grade, which personally didn’t seem particularly fair to me. Your own grade quickly became dependent on the quality of the contributions of others.
In terms of workload, you are very busy in Australia. There were three “assignments” per subject, which could be, for example, an exam, a presentation, an individual or group assignment. So I wrote seven term papers and had two exams in that semester. Perhaps it is not more of a hassle than it is in Germany, but in Münster it is the case that you have time for the housework during the entire semester break. In Australia, on the other hand, all assignments were limited to the twelve university weeks, so that I often only had one week for a term paper with, for example, 2,500 words.
Still, Swinburne University has some advantages too. She tries very hard to offer the students a lot. For example, there was an orientation week with a city rally and many free food stands (even pizza, ice cream and potato spirals) on campus. In between there were activities such as a Beach Day with heaped sand. I really liked the campus itself, as Swinburne University’s Hawthorn campus has really nice buildings, but it’s not too huge.
Melbourne and the surrounding area
Another advantage of Swinburne University’s Hawthorn Campus is that the city center is less than 15 minutes away by metro. Hawthorn itself has a small “town center” with lots of restaurants, shops, a cinema and an outdoor swimming pool (which is free for Swinburne students, by the way). The center of Melbourne offers a lot more, of course. There are very unusual cafes and bars, a river that is wonderful for walking, many free museums and some shopping opportunities. Melbourne also has really great neighborhoods such as Fitzroy, where there is a lot of street art and a weekly market in addition to second-hand and vintage shops with great jewelry stands there. There are also beaches in Melbourne and nearby. In St. Kilda, for example, penguins come to a jetty in the evening and on Brighton Beach there are lots of colorful huts that are perfect for beautiful photos. Melbourne has rightly been named the most livable city in my opinion.
Swinburne University gets another big plus from me for its range of day trips. Especially if you don’t have a car and don’t know a lot of people at the beginning, it makes sense to book an excursion through the university with other students. The organization “Real Experience” offers several day trips, which all start at the university and also end there later. So I took part in a surf trip, an excursion to a wildlife park with subsequent wine and chocolate tastings, a relaxing evening bathing in hot springs and trips to the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island, where penguins come ashore from the sea in the evening. Even if some of the excursions could have been a little better organized (for example, with regard to the division of time at the different stops), I still found every excursion really great.
Furthermore, it is recommended to join the Facebook group “New to Melbourne”, as they also offer some day trips (the one to the Great Ocean Road would have been cheaper with this than with Real Experience). I used this to book a trip to the Grampians National Park, which became one of my favorite day trips.
Australia also offers many travel destinations. In fact, too many to see everything that one would like to see. In the end, I was spoiled for choice when it came to Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns (where you can get to the Great Barrier Reef) as well as (even if this is not in Australia) New Zealand, Bali and Dubai. I did Bali and Dubai as a “stop over” on the outward and return flight. I can warmly recommend checking with the travel agent what a detour will cost. Dubai, for example, didn’t cost me anything for the flight, because Emirates has its headquarters there and therefore the planes always go via Duabi and it made no difference in terms of price whether you continue to fly there or only a few days later. The detour via Bali caused only small additional flight costs. So if you have the time, I think you should definitely consider something like this.
I actually liked it best in New Zealand. There were three of us on the road and shared a rental car. My highlight was the hike on the “Tongariro Alpine Crossing”. This path is 19. 4 km long and leads over beautiful landscapes past the Mount of Destiny from Lord of the Rings. We also went to see the Hobbiton movie set where it really looks like another world. There were also great beaches, hot springs for swimming, beautiful mountains for hiking and some waterfalls. New Zealand is really a huge recommendation! But I also really enjoyed the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney.
In general, it is my recommendation to take as much as possible with you from the semester abroad. If you don’t know anyone before, don’t panic. You get to know other people quickly. Other international students, in particular, are just as interested in seeing as much as you are yourself and are therefore very open to travel suggestions. If you have not planned something home immediately after your return, in my opinion it is also advisable not to book a return flight at first. So you would be much more spontaneous and see what kind of trip there is after the end of the semester. I myself had the problem of traveling to the east coast after the last exam, but having already booked a return flight from Melbourne.
Of course, seeing absolute to-do’s in Australia such as wild kangaroos and koala bears was also a must. I really had a wonderful time and already miss being there a little. I got to know a lot of people from very different countries. With us it quickly became apparent that the “internationals” moved together a little and planned many excursions and activities. It also became a tradition to get together on Tuesdays in the “on-campus” dormitory and then go out.
Of course, there were also difficult moments that gave me a few doubts in between. You are really very far from home and have a big time difference of 8 or 10 hours (that had changed due to the summer and winter time in between). When I came back home with my friends everything was as if I had never been away, which in my opinion confirms that the semester abroad brings much more profit than loss.
Regardless of whether you want to go Down Under or somewhere else, I can really only recommend taking a semester abroad! The experiences you gain are unforgettable and in any case it is a time that absolutely enriches your own life.