Exchange Student: Benjamin a Norwegian student from Concordia College-Moorhead in the USA decided to explore a little more of the world by studying business at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia for a Study Abroad Semester.
Field of study: Business Management
About the place of study
How did you decide that this is where you wanted to go?
I began my Bachelor in the USA, but had a strong desire to go to Australia and grabbed the opportunity to go on exchange for a semester. Sunshine Coast is located centrally on the East-Coast, close to Brisbane, in a very popular area along the coast and has one of the country’s fastest growing universities for this exact reason, which made the decision easy for me.
How about the school and student life?
The school uses a fantastic model which combines classroom education with online education. Most of the classes (all I took) are recorded and uploaded to an online portal. Therefore, it is possible to watch the class as it was later, with the questions from class and everything included, which was great right before the exams. It gave a lot of flexibility to facilitate the studies to one’s own needs and desires, and was easy to combine with excursions.
Student life was amazing! Many live within a 10 minute walk from campus, in two areas called UniCentral and Varsity. These areas house about 800 students, whom live in 2-4 person apartments in an area that doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to walk across. It was always lively and the volleyball court, pools and basketball courts was frequently used!
Life as a student in Australia
How was the prices?
Unfortunately it is more expensive now with the weak NOK exchange rate, but it was quite like Norway. Oslo (the Norwegian capital) with a 10% discount would be a good comparison, but then again a lot of time is spent at the beach in the sun, and that is after all free of charge.
How much is the rent?
The weekly rate in UniCentral or Varsity is about 195 AUD a week.
What do you do in the spare time?
Obviously a lot of time goes to reading and assignments, but it would be a lie to say that you won’t spend quite a few hours at the beach, in a sunbed by the pool or at the volleyball court. If you’re even in the Sunshine Coast with all the great excursion opportunities to Gold Coast in the south and Noosa to the North. Barbeque on the beach, selfies with kangaroos on campus and getting roughed up at the rugby field are amongst repeat offender time thieves, plus that there are lots of partyanimals in Australia whom makes the nights and weekends fun!
What do you think is the best thing about studying in Australia?
For me the whole package made it fantastic, and I can’t point to a single factor. The nice weather, the laidback culture, the nice people, the school and educational structure, the beach and everything. More importantly, the Sunshine Coast has become a gathering point for people from all over, and I met a lot of great people whom I had a tremendous time with.
Is it something you think of as negative or challenging about studying in Australia?
If you are a bit undisciplined the Sunshine Coast won’t make it any easier for you to be a good student. There are so many distractions, and it is not easy to sit down in the library to finish an assignment when the others go to the beach. It is also a grueling trip (from Norway) to Australia. The stores closes way too early (this was perhaps worse for me since I came directly from the States which has shops open around the clock, but shops closing at 18:00 felt weird). Furthermore, although it was never a problem, it as odd to pass by one of the world’s deadliest snakes and kangaroos the size of cows on my way to class. In the beginning I walked in half circles several meters around them, but in the end I treated them just the same I doves on the sidewalk here in Norway (ignored them in other words).
Do you have any advice to others intending to study in Australia?
Grab the opportunity while you are young and healthy! Australia is absolutely amazing, a great experience that I strongly recommend anyone. Go to Great Barrier, Whitsundays and Sydney. I would also recommend to explore exchange possibilities early on. I am in many ways fortunate since I’ve been in the USA and Australia, but looking back I wish I had gone on exchange to a third location. I started safely in the USA, then I went to Australia and ended up going to China (I don’t speak the language) after that, shortly after finding myself living with a local tribe 3 miles (30km) up in the mountains of Vietnam. It is a lot of cool stuff you can do, it is all about what you dare to do and how far out of the comfort zone you are able to go, but everyone has to start somewhere and Sunshine Coast is the perfect starting point!