Exchange students: an insight into life in Australia
By Flavie Dufour
Every country has its own unique culture, and it’s something that’s always exciting to discover when you’re travelling to a new place!
Today I’m going to share with you my experience, as well as the experience of other exchange students, who are currently studying at The University of New England (UNE) in Australia.
If you are curious to know what international students think about Australia, read on to find out!
Visitors are well received!
One of the first things myself, and a lot of the other students I spoke to noticed about this country, was just how welcoming Australians can be.
“When you talk to Australians you quickly realise that they are very welcoming, and that they will do everything to make you feel comfortable. They will come up to you a lot, basically welcoming you.” explained Taïna,
an exchange student at UNE that came to Australia 8 months ago. As many of the others I interviewed said, the friendliness of Australians shows a lot, and does hit the mark.
A unique sense of humour
The humour of Australians is also very noticeable. It could be a misperception, but Australians seem to be fond of one type of humour, sarcasm. With them everything is a joke!
The pace of life
The pace of life in Australia is quite different from other countries, including France where I am from. Shops close earlier, as do bars. In fact, we’ve also noticed that the mealtimes are earlier. Dinner here is around 6 PM whereas in France, for example, it’s around 8 PM. These are just some small cultural differences that surprised me when I arrived.
Food and a love of vegemite
Surprisingly, Australians are fond of this salty spread: Vegemite! Even although it may not be to the taste of all foreigners, it has a lot of recognition in Australia.
But in general, there is a note of disappointment about the food among international students. “There’s a lack of variety,” says Valentin.
This can be difficult to adapt to as a foreigner. However, when you visit somewhere different, your eating habits are bound to change. It can also be challenging to know what the best products are at the supermarket; amongst all these unfamiliar brands we don’t know.
When travelling in Australia you can observe that everything is very extended, and it can take several days to travel somewhere. However, the mountainous landscapes and the vastness of the natural environment give Australia a great charm. Taïna said,
“No matter where you go it’s incredible, you know you’re going to come across forests or waterfalls.”
In addition to the beautiful scenery, there is a wide variety of animal species here.
After all, what would Australia be without its dangerous snakes and spider etc.! It may be a less dangerous country, but it would not be Australia.
Of course, as foreigners, we are especially amazed to see koalas or even kangaroos. As they are emblematic animals of this country, it gets really exciting to encounter animals we can’t see anywhere else!
The way you will go about studying here can be a little different to places like France and can take some adjusting to when you first arrive. UNE is a lively place, where the colleges and the university organise and promote lots of events. Valentin, for example, says that he loves “The opportunities we have with the Clubs & Societies outings.”
In the same way, all the other students I interviewed noticed that here there is a more independent way of working. We know the content of exams in advance, and we can start working on them as soon as we want. For Valentin that was a total surprise, “What shocked me was the autonomy we have at the university with our courses.”
Exams are a completely different process in my country, where we know nothing in advance and must take the exam only the day it is scheduled.
Opening up to the world!
After talking about university, the food, the landscapes, and the Australian lifestyle, I have to say that all these small differences make us remember that yes, we do live in a different country, with a different culture.
However, exchange presents an incredible opportunity to see that each country has its own character and empowers us to better understand it by interacting with it.
Above all these minor differences, it’s outstanding to have the chance to study abroad!