Application / course choice
The application went super easy with MicroEDU , Sabine was very helpful with all questions. There are of course some things to submit, but none of that is as much as it might look at the beginning. When the acceptance came, I was really happy. The last formalities were done and then it was off!
The semester started very early compared to Germany, in July. So it happened that I flew to Australia right from the end of my summer semester in Berlin and one week later the O week began. The international students were looked after very well here, I got to know a lot of people with whom I did a lot during the semester and who became really good friends. Visit andyeducation.com to get information about Vancouver Island University study abroad program.
During the orientation week, it was also time to choose a course, which initially turned out to be problematic for me: Almost every course that I wanted to choose was not available to me. It turned out that I was only allowed to choose courses from the first year of study, even though I had already finished my second year of study in Berlin (so logically I should have taken courses from the third year).
So when we found that out, I enrolled in three courses from the first year. It all worked out super easily. Incidentally, three courses are the minimum number of courses you have to take, four is normal, five courses are a lot. At the beginning I also considered doing four, but in the end I stayed with three.
Due to the fact that these were courses from the first year, the entire semester was less demanding than previously expected. Nonetheless, it was very interesting and encouraging, but at some points I would have liked to have felt more challenged.
I took a course in Imaging / Photography / Illustration, another in Editorial Design and then a course from another course, Natural History Illustration, which is unique in the world. I really liked that there were other courses to choose from. The course was definitely more demanding for me because I had never dealt with realistic illustration before.
The university is very large, located in the middle of the bush and is therefore not that easy to reach. You can choose whether you prefer to live on campus or around the university in order to get there faster, or whether you prefer city life with the beach, but of course have longer distances to the university.
I decided on the last one (I will go into my living situation later) and it took me an hour to get to the university. But since I only had university from Monday to Wednesday, that was definitely ok!
All of my courses took place in the design building, which has a nice, unique atmosphere. My fellow students were all really nice, open and friendly (like the Australians in general) but also a lot younger than me because they were in their first year (all around 18 while I am already 22).
When studying design in Australia, there is no prior selection in the form of a folder or the like, as is the case in Germany. This was also clearly noticed by the quality of the work of my fellow students. If I compare it to my FH in Germany, I would say that I learn more from my fellow students at home, but more from the professors in Australia than from the work of others. The professors were super friendly, I was by no means anonymous. After each submission, you received a lot of personal feedback, which was very helpful. The university was also well equipped with printers, scanners, iMacs, light tables and whatever else you need for design.
As mentioned before, I decided to live closer to the beach than to the university. I stayed with a friend for the first two weeks as a sublet (it was very happy that I already knew someone in Newcastle). But I also know people who stayed in the hostel for the first few weeks in order to search from there.
You can of course also look at websites like gumtree. com. au or flatmates. com. au from Germany, but it is a lot more difficult to get something because people would like to get to know you personally. Many people have already rented so-called student houses in advance. This is less complicated, as you get a furnished room with many other international students, but you also pay a lot more. I also found the idea of living with Australians a little cooler.
During the sublease period, I looked for shared apartments and quickly found a cute, small shared house in which 3 Australians, an Argentine and a German lived. The rent was really cheap. You pay per week in Australia. I paid $ 130 a week there. In the student houses, rents between 250 and even 300 per week were normal. So I was able to save a lot of money there. And it really wasn’t difficult to find something, so I would advise anyone going to Newcastle! I also lived 5 minutes from the beach and everything else was within reach (cafes, downtown, supermarket. . . )
As you know, everything in Australia is a bit more expensive than in Germany. But even then I was pleasantly surprised, I had imagined it to be much worse! If you pay attention to it, you can live really well and relatively cheaply. I cooked a lot in my flat share instead of going out to eat, went shopping at Aldi (yes, that’s there!), Bought my clothes in the coolest second-hand shops and all that. Going out is of course comparatively expensive, but you get used to it. And if it doesn’t work out at all, you can look for a part-time job in a café or restaurant and earn a really good hourly wage!
I didn’t do a little for my university, but I was able to enjoy a lot of free time. In the middle of the semester there was a two-week midterm break that could be used for a trip. We also went on many weekend trips. In about 3 hours you are in Sydney, you can rent or buy a car and within a few hours you can be at beautiful beaches, wine regions, national parks or waterfalls. Flights within the country are also not too expensive, which is why a weekend trip to Melbourne is absolutely worthwhile.
But you can also spend your free time in Newcastle. I bought a surfboard right at the start (the Gumtree site is particularly worthwhile for such purchases, it’s like Ebay classifieds). We spent a lot of time on the beach, surfing and swimming, went to beautiful cafes, flea markets and design markets. Newcastle has a really nice scene, there was a big arts festival in the city and also events like an international animation festival or a one-day music festival.
I also found it really optimal in terms of size, I bought a bike at the university right at the beginning and was mobile and could reach everything in a few minutes.
My semester ended in November and I still had plenty of time until my summer semester in Berlin started again.
The time in Newcastle was really indescribable, I made so many nice people as friends, learned a lot about my subject but also about myself and had a lot of wonderful experiences. I can only recommend to everyone to do a semester abroad, it is definitely worth it!