Hannah Moore – Film & Media – Level 3
Griffith University, Australia
When I started out at QMU as a first year student and was told I could study abroad for a semester in third year and my mind went straight to Australia. Never did I think that in two and a half years’ time I would actually be getting on a plane to head out there for a semester. The first few days were very overwhelming, I arrived right in the middle of summer, so a delightful 29- 30 degrees. My first priority was to find somewhere to stay. Griffith University does provide accommodation for international students, however I applied too late for accommodation so all the spaces were filled. I soon found that to be a blessing in disguise which was down to sheer luck. The University set up an international student’s Facebook page which everyone was invited too and where people had been posting about accommodation queries. This is where I started speaking to Anna who is German; we both flew in on the same flight from Dubai and organised to meet bright and early the following morning to start looking for a place to call home for the next 5 months. Anna and I had also been talking to two Danish girls (Ann Katherine (AK) and Melanie) through the website ‘Flatmates’ who were on exchange and also needing some place to stay.
Anna and I decided to meet with AK and Melanie who had spotted a holiday apartment building with vacancies. Another girl Hannah who was from America had also been talking to me about accommodation and we arranged to meet that day also when she sent me the address, it was the same building that I had just left. I met with Hannah and viewed their flat which was also stunning, however Anna and I made a deal to stay together, therefore we opted for Melanie and AK’s flat. Over the next week through word of mouth over the Facebook page and Flatmates a group of 20+ homeless exchange and international students who had been roughing it in dirt cheap hostels, some of us even camping, managed to end up under the high-rise roof of Hi Surf with two pools, a BBQ area, sauna, a gym and beautiful ocean views. It really all felt like a dream.
This was all done in time for our exchange student Byron Bay Trip (which conveniently all of the Hi Surf Gang were going on) minus one. Within one weekend we were lucky enough to find a home and a family.
Before class began Griffith offered a three-day, two night orientation trip to Byron Bay. This allowed all the exchange and international students to get to know each other. This included a trip to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, a hike up to the Byron Bay lighthouse which is the Most Easterly Point of Australia, BBQs every night- now before I go on I want to warn you that an Australian BBQ is not what you expect. Be prepared for hot dog sausages, a slice of bread and some either over or under cooked onions. The first night Hannah and I decided we were going to do a 14,000 foot Skydive at 8am the following morning. I mean why not? This turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I knew that from then on Hannah and I would be great friends. The remaining day and a half was filled with sea kayaking (where I got severely sunburnt), surf lessons and a very enjoyable night at Cheeky Monkeys where their motto is that at 9pm the tables turn into the dance floor. Which is exactly what happened and we danced the night away before returning to the Gold Coast to start our semester.
Griffith’s Gold Coast campus is incredible, multiple buildings surrounded by bushes, trees and secret paths leading you to a new part of campus. The modules I picked for Australia were slightly different to what I was used to at QMU as was the grading and teaching system. However I soon adapted to it and was thoroughly enjoying my classes. I was initially worried about starting new classes- not really knowing anyone. Those issues soon faded when in every class there was conversation from the start. There was so much help at hand for students both domestic and international, if you had any worries or queries there would be someone to help. There is someone to help you out with any issue big or small!
Throughout the five months I was away, the Hi Surf Gang went on multiple road-trips, going up along the Sunshine Coast, the Great Ocean road and trips to various National parks. I was lucky enough to visit the big cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. As well as all of that, we had multiple BBQs, I got my diving license, we also stayed right on the beach therefore a few of us took up the hobby of surfing and decided to be up early most mornings to master the art of gliding along water on a board which some took too better than others.
As the end of the semester drew closer, we found ourselves getting very emotional and nostalgic. The friends I had made over the past 4 months will be ones I will cherish forever. Melanie, AK and Anna were the best flatmates I could have asked for. There was never a dull moment, we were just like sisters, sometimes we’d argue sometimes we’d cry, other times we’d play ridiculous pranks on each other and have uncontrollable laughing fits.
The majority of the Hi Surf Gang stays somewhere in Europe, therefore a lot of us have been able to keep in touch, we have also we vowed to see each other again! Maybe even a reunion in Australia again when we all graduate next year. I have already booked flights to Denmark to see Melanie and AK.
Aside from the exploring, friends and parties, academically I have learnt so much and have a clearer direction I would like to go in terms of careers. Studying abroad builds your confidence and helps you grow as a person, you become more aware of things, and appreciate everything you have whilst working towards something you want.
I hope this has shed light on how incredible and rewarding this experience can be, if I could I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Thank you Australia, QMU and Griffith University.