Hi, my name’s Frazer and I’m a 3rd year History and Politics studying for a year at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Now, I know that if you’re reading this you’re most likely a Southampton student looking at coming on an exchange (or my Mum) so I’ll try and drop some hints and tips as I go along, but without being too boring.
Firstly, travelling. Nothing can quite prepare you for the joy of 17 hours on a plane, the attendant screaming babies, Australian women slamming gin and tonics for 10 hours, and over excited children (my flight highlight had to be the kid who as the plane began to move yelled “Abu Dhabi HERE! WE! COME!”). However, you can control certain other things. Try and book ASAP because you can save a lot of money; have a look when UK schools break-up as that jumps the price dramatically, and check your baggage allowances: you may think that 20kg is a lot but when you’re trying to pack your life in a suitcase the day before you travel as your Mum keeps sneaking in extra pairs of socks you’ll be surprised how it piles up. I also benefited from a long layover, staying in Abu Dhabi for 21 hours which both broke up the 17 hours and helped significantly reduce jet lag.
I was lucky and able to stay a week with friends in Perth so got to know the city a bit better before moving into Halls. University accommodation here is horrifically expensive, even with food included, but I’d say it has already been worth it as it’s the best way to meet people. Though it may be scary meeting new people it’s worth remembering that everyone is in the same boat!
Freshers week here was a bit different as the Halls I’m in runs a ‘Dry Freshers’ because of a weird uni policy, so any nights out were on our own time. This did mean that events were way better organised in the day and included Laser Tag, a scavenger hunt around Perth and a night trip to the old Prison (which was pretty creepy!). This all has to be fitted in around boring admin stuff, but getting a bank account isn’t too complicated (especially in-branch), the main issue is that it takes 5 days to get a card so I’d advise bringing cash with you. The other issue is that Australian bars and clubs only accept Australian Driving licenses, so you either have to take a passport with you everywhere or fork out £25 for a UWA proof of age card (I don’t know if these exist in other Australian states). Also, if you want to work you have to get something called a TFN, which basically means you will get a tax rebate at the end of the year (if you want more info on why this is I’m afraid you’ll have to Google it as I have no real idea how it works).
So far my experience has been good, everyone I’ve met has been easy to get along with, but now I have to actually start back in classes, so I will keep you updated on how that goes (that is, if anyone other than my Mum is still reading at this point)