For a long time I thought about in which country and at which university I should do my semester abroad – mainly because I wanted to take courses in both of my subjects, but Catholic theology does not seem to be a standard subject outside of Europe. The University of Newcastle ultimately offered me the best conditions because it is one of the few universities in Australia to offer theology and courses can be freely combined, and I have not regretted the decision to go there.
The application process was very, very easy with the help of MicroEDU. All of the forms I sent to MicroEDU were in Australia in a matter of days, and the university’s replies came back just as quickly. It only took a little longer to list my German courses and to translate and certify this transcript because my home university did not have any standard forms for my degree program. Everything else went very quickly and without any problems. Visit andyeducation.com to get information about Thompson Rivers University study abroad program.
The course choice turned out to be a little more difficult which is my only criticism of the University of Newcastle. I am studying in Germany in the state examination, a degree that is of course not recognized in Australia. Since I had already studied 9 semesters before the semester abroad, MicroEDU advised me to state on the application that I am already doing “post-graduate studies”, i. e. am doing my Masters. But because of course I can’t show a bachelor’s degree, I was only able to take courses at the bachelor’s level. Basically, that wasn’t bad because I didn’t want any courses to be credited at home anyway, but if you are dependent on credit: expect that all German degrees except Bachelor and Master in Australia will be viewed critically.
Otherwise I was completely satisfied with the university and the study conditions. I have always found both the International Office and all professors and lecturers to be very helpful and friendly. I got quick and straightforward help with every question I had.
I had taken two English and two theology courses (theology in Newcastle is always interfaith, non-denominational), and I learned a lot in all of the courses, both in terms of content and methods. I particularly enjoyed the “ Creative Writing ” course because this subject is not even included in my study regulations in Germany and was therefore completely new to me.
When you come from a German university, it is initially very unusual that the tone between lecturers and students in Australia is very relaxed. You address yourself by first name and discussions are often simply conducted freely without being called up. It took some getting used to for the first couple of weeks, but afterwards I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Learning is much more informal and I felt that the lecturers were genuinely interested in the students’ opinions.
The performance evaluation at the University of Newcastle is structured significantly differently than at my home university. Each course at the UoN has 10 units, i. e. 10 hours per week. Of that, I was only 2-4 hours per week at the university, the rest of the work is done independently at home with required reading, online tasks and at least two to three graded essays or tests per course, which are spread over the semester. This has the advantage that each individual task submitted does not count that much; on the other hand, every course also means a lot of work. Overall, however, four courses at the bachelor level can be mastered well.
The search for an apartment was quite easy for me because I knew from the start that I wanted to live on campus. The application for “student living” was relatively straightforward and I actually moved into a room in the “New Residences”, the newest and very modern student dormitories. The rooms are quite expensive (I paid $ 217 a week), but I felt really comfortable there. I had five really nice flatmates, three of them Australian, and our apartment was huge, very clean and really cozy. “Reslife”, the organization that is responsible for the well-being of the residents, looked after us really well, from the organization of the apartment cleaning (yes, you get the common rooms cleaned by professional cleaners!) to the organization of various festivals and sporting events. In addition, each dormitory has student “resident mentors” who are responsible for one or two corridors. These RMs organized parties, game evenings, cooking competitions and many other leisure activities for us and were always approachable. Over time, the whole dormitory has therefore become a community. It was definitely the best decision to live on campus!
When it comes to leisure activities, the University of Newcastle offers various clubs and groups that you can join for free or for a small semester fee. From different sports to theater and reading groups, there is something for everyone. Be sure to register for a club, here you get to know people with similar interests very quickly and easily. For example, I felt very comfortable at FEAST, a creative club. There is also a large fitness studio on campus with lots of courses and a 50 m swimming pool (very practical in winter!).
Newcastle itself is otherwise a rather quiet city with few sights, but has very nice shopping streets and nice cafes both in the city center and in Hamilton. The beaches are also amazing – super beautiful and easily accessible.
In addition, from Newcastle you can quickly reach Nelson Bay, Sydney or the Blue Mountains by public transport at moderate prices. So you never get bored:-).
And while you’re in Australia, be sure to travel around a bit. From Newcastle and Sydney all major cities can be reached easily and cheaply by bus or plane. I’ve been to Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth, all great cities with lots to see and do!
Studying in Australia is certainly not cheap, but if you have the chance: do it! I had a great time in Newcastle, learned a lot, seen a lot and met a lot of nice people. Overall, an experience that I wouldn’t want to miss!