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My Year Abroad – Brisbane, Australia 2005/2006

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My year abroad – Brisbane, Australia 2005/2006
When I heard that we all had to do an obligatory study abroad for one year, there was no doubt in my mind, Australia, here I come! I’d always wanted to go to Australia and this was a great opportunity for me to do that, to fulfil one of my dreams.

Preparing for my year abroad
There were a lot of things that had to be arranged prior to my departure, things as selection of subjects, having them approved, finding a place to live, fill out all applications, applying for visa, insurance etc. It is important to keep that in mind, and to take care of everything in good time before departure. And also remember that you have to spend a lot of money even before you leave, for the plane ticket, bond for your apartment, school money, visa, insurance etc. I was quite surprised over the amount of money I had to spend on different things, I hadn’t thought of that.

You don’t have to have accommodation before you arrive, but I wanted everything to be taken care of when I arrived. So I checked www.iec.no early, in April I think , to see if anyone wanted a housemate. Here, I found two Norwegian girls looking for a third, we started talking and I got the room. Now, I am located in a very modern, pretty, three-room apartment in Kangaroo Point, close to both the city and QUT. The apartment also comes with a shared pool and BBQ-facilities. I pay $130 ($1 = 5 NKr. approx.) pr. week, which is a reasonable price for a place like this. Prices vary depending on what area you want to stay in and how many people you’d like to share with. Electricity comes as an addition every third month, and we also have an internet and telephone line we have to pay.

Subjects and timetables
You choose your subjects prior to departure, but you still have to confirm them and enrol in lectures and tutorials when you have arrived, the university will help you with that. Different from Norwegian school system is that you choose your own lecture times. With so many students there are many lectures a week in the same subject so you have to make your own timetable and make sure one subject doesn’t clash with another. I suggest you do this early, as the best alternatives are quickly filled.

The subjects I enrolled in + timetables
My subjects here at QUT are varied. During spring 2005, I enrolled in:
1 NRB 240 History of Life on Earth: an interesting subject if you are interested in how life originated and how it has evolved through time. It includes everything from tiny bacteria to humans, and what rocks and plants consists of and how reefs were formed etc. The teaching takes place in weekly lectures of two hours and weekly practicals of two hours. During the pracs, we do assignments which we have to hand in every week, and which makes up a certain percentage of the total character. We also have a field trip during the semester where we search for fossils and observes the reef. We also have to do one essay and one mid-semester exam in addition to the final exam.
2 SCB 222 Exploration of the Universe: this subject is recommended if you are interested in how our universe functions, how it came to be and what it consists of. Here, there are also two hours of weekly lectures and two hours of weekly practicals with assignments due every week.
3 BSB 113 Economics: What to say about this subject, it covers mainly micro-economics, and you learn the basics of how the financial aspects in society functions, mostly in market and private firms etc, but also a little on government issues such as tax, GNP etc. Two hours lecture and one hour tutorial every week. One essay in addition to the compulsory mid-term and final exam.
4 BSB 126 Marketing: Covers the basics of how to approach a business market when introducing your own product to a market with regards to preparations, surveys, communication, advertising etc. In this subject there is a two hours lecture and a tutorial on approx two hours. We had a group assignment in the tutorials where we ought to carry out a marketing plan for an imaginary good or service. You are also required to hand in three of about 10 question sets that you prepare for each tutorial.

Monday 4-6 pm: SCB222 lecture 6-8 pm: SCB222 practicals
Wednesday 9-11 am: BSB113 lecture 1-3 pm: NRB240 lecture 3-4 pm: BSB113 tutorial
Thursday 1-3 pm: BSB126 lecture 3-5 pm: BSB126 tutorial
Friday 3-5 pm: NRB240 practicals

During autumn 2006, I enrolled in:
1 PYB 012 Psychology: This course gives you an introduction to psychology and covers the most common areas in psychology such as personality, learning, intellect, behaviour etc. It was the subject I enjoyed the most this semester, I think everyone could make use of learning more about the human being, but it is of course individual how interested one is. In this subject there are no tutorials, only 2 hours of lecture every week. One mid semester and one final exam in addition to weekly multiple choice quizzes every week over the internet. You can also achieve extra credit by participating in surveys which is no hassle at all, you simply fill in some pages of questions. 2 BSB 111 Business Law and Ethics: Introduction to the Australian law and court system, and how you apply it into the business world. Not as heavy as it may sound, you learn the basics of how the law system functions how the laws are made and about the courts in Australia. You also learn professional codes of ethics and how to approach ethical problems. This is taught in lectures and discussed in tutorials. You get one short assignment during the semester in addition to mid semester and final exams.
3 EFB 102 Economics 2: A continuation of Economics 1, this subject gets a bit more into the various aspects we learned the previous semster and gets a bit more difficult. But if you paid attention in the previous economics subject you should be able to get through it. An assignment similar to last year’s is also to be done, this time more extensive, and, of course, the exams are the assessments. Two hours lecture and one hour tutorial every week.
4 AMB 220 Advertising Theory and Practice: Since I did marketing last semester decided to get a bit deeper into one aspect of the area and enrolled in this subject. AMB220 teaches you how to introduce new products into the competitive market and how to best approach different consumers with different products. You learn about communication, targeting, positioning, advertising planning etc. At the end of the term you need to hand in an assignment of 3000 words. You also need to hand in a portfolio containing exercises you have done throughout the semester. In the tutorial you will be put into debate groups and you have to prepare for debating at the end of the semester. In addition to this, you have the two exams.

Wednesday 9-10 am: EFB102 tutorial 10-12 am: PYB012 lecture
Thursday 6-8 pm: EFB102 lecture
Friday 8-10 am: BSB111 lecture 10-11 am: BSB111 tutorial 3-4 pm: AMB220 tutorial 5-7 pm: AMB220 lecture

The university - www.qut.com.au[->0]
With 40 000 students divided on three campuses there has to be a communication system that works flawlessly. The way communication here functions is by internet. Much like Fronter at HiA, QUT has a virtual room for every student where you have your own profile that keeps track of what subjects you have enrolled in, your fee payment status, exam time and venues, exam results etc. Each subjects have their own OLT site (online teaching), and the links to your subjects are found in your virtual room. These sites contains info about the staff, unit outline, lecture notes, tutorial notes, assessment details, marking criteria etc., basically all you need to know. Communication between teacher and student happens through these sites, besides e-mail. At uni there are plenty of computer labs if you don’t have access at home.

I have found that the grading system is different from what I am used to at HiA, with assessments to hand in during the semester making up a certain percentage of your final grade. In most subjects you’ll have a mid-semester exam and a final exam, the final exam, of course, will be most important one. In addition to these you have at least one other assignment during the semester. Back home I’m used to having one exam at the end of the semester which accounts for almost the whole grade, and one large or several small assignments that makes up the rest. This was something that caught me off guard as the first semester down here started and I realised that there was a bit more to do here than I was used to. And besides, it’s all in English, which is fair enough, but keep in mind that Aussie-English isn’t the easiest accent to understand in the beginning as they tend to mumble a bit and talk really fast.. Not only is there a lot to keep you busy with, but it also starts almost the first week school commences, so you should really just jump into it and start as early as possible. That way you’ll find it easier to keep deadlines and avoids late nights working just to get it done.

The mid semester exam is normally one hour in length and consists of multiple choice questions. The final exam is longer, depending on what subject you do, and consists of multiple choice questions and short answer questions, and some may have an essay assignment as well.

QUT have a lot of different activities for you with guilds especially designed for your needs. You’ll find everything from sports to music, international societies to religious guilds, here is a full list of the clubs in 2006: http://www.guildonline.net/page.asp?name=Clubs_AToZ Travelling
Don’t get scared by this I just told you, even if there is some work that has to be done, I don’t regret going here for one second. Even though the primary reason for study a year abroad in Australia is uni and education, it is important that you don’t lock yourself in with the books. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you have a whole year to travel around and see, not only Australia, but also the surrounding areas such as New Zealand, Tasmania, Fiji etc. That is, if you got the money… I didn’t, and it was not high on my priority list either, but I did some travelling up the coast of Queensland, visiting Cairns where we dived at the outer Great Barrier Reef and saw the prettiest things. We travelled by train down to the Whitsundays next and had a relaxing three days onboard a sail boat and had the greatest time. I have been to some places, but I have never seen more beautiful beaches than I saw up there. If you have the opportunity, go there! Australia is a country of great diversity, from tropical rainforests to dry desert areas, their wildlife is amazing, and there is so much to see. I would recommend that if you want the most out of Australia while being here you buy yourself a travel guide and do some research before coming. Make a list of things you want to see and do.

Stopovers on your way to and from Australia is another great opportunity to see some different countries, and you don’t even pay much for it as it is most likely on your flight route anyway. I went back home during the Christmas holidays, but instead of going straight to Norway I got a visit from my boyfriend and we headed up to Singapore before travelling to Malaysia and Thailand on our own. We departed Bangkok by plane a month later to get home for Christmas. It is possible to do the other side as well, and go via the States, you decide, but I highly recommend it as it is a great opportunity to see some new places on your way.

Each semester have one week breaks; spring break and easter holiday. The spring semester ends in October with most exams done with by mid-November. Next semester doesn’t start until end of February, which means you have plenty of time to travel around if you are not going back home for these months. Either way, find something to keep you busy these months, it is no fun in just doing nothing for three months..

Arriving and getting settled in the land down under
You are taken good care of when you arrive in Australia. If you have no acquaintances here to pick you up at the airport, QUT arranges for you to be picked up and driven to the place where you are staying. The week before school commences, there is an introductory week where you receive all necessary information and get shown around on campus, becomes familiar with the web system, and social life etc. The International department at QUT arrange a River Boat Cruise the first week where you and your fellow international students can get to know each other better. They also arrange special trips for international students, e.g. a day trip to Surfers Paradise includes a visit to the zoo, dinner at Hard Rock Café and hanging out on the beach. Another trip is a weekend to the world’s largest sand island Fraser Island. If you are going overseas by yourself, this is a great opportunity to make some new friends. And if you are going overseas with friends, it is still a great opportunity to meet others and practise your verbal English skills. Because that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Or else you might as well could have stayed in Norway J

Getting around
If your uni is farther away than walking distance I recommend you get yourself a monthly Translink card unless you have a car. As a student you pay $40 (approx. 200 NoK) for travelling as much as you wish by bus, train or ferry within two zones. Although the centre of the city is pretty small, Brisbane is a large area and is divided into zones and prices are set according to a zone system, but two zones covers pretty much. There’s a river running through the city of Brisbane, so a different way of getting around is by ferry, the so-called CityCat (see picture). It is my way of getting to and from university and the city and I am so pleased with that way of travelling instead of a crowded, bumpy bus ride, it is such a nice alternative!

Work
If you are looking for an extra income source while studying or simply just integrate into the Australian culture I’ve heard it’s not too hard finding a job around. I didn’t really look for any work as I needed my time off for school work and I also value my relaxing time. But, interested in the Australian wildlife as I am, I couldn’t let the opportunity of working with them pass me by when I finally was down under! So I did some research and ended up as a volunteer worker at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for some time. I was over the moon as I got closer to my favourite animals. The koala park is only a bus ride away from my place and I obtained a certificate which might come in handy if I choose to come back in the future to work more with the animals (you see, a dream of mine is to come back here one day to care for orphaned baby koalas). To do this job you have to have a passion for the animals as it is hard work under the sun and you don’t get paid. But despite that you get something that money cant buy in return, you come close to the animals and learn their way of living and behaving, and if you’re into that, don’t hesitate, check out www.koala.net[->1] for more info. If you want a paid job, just remember to take precautions, there are some formal steps such as tax payment etc., you can find more info at the QUT homepage.

Nightlife
If you are into partying there are plenty of opportunities in this city. There are heaps of discotheques, pubs, clubs etc. and most of them doesn’t charge you. But remember that some of the places have dress codes. The alcohol prices won’t clean you out either, and you get a pint of beer for about 25 Nkr, as for the drinks they are a lot cheaper than Norwegian ones. At QUT you’ll find a guild called Norsk which is obviously made by Norwegians. They organise a lot of events, and as a member you can join them in pub crawls, beach parties, trips etc. Being a member also gives you an entrance fee discount at some clubs. Brisbane is a relatively safe city although I recommend you don’t walk home by yourself after a night out, and be aware that certain suburbs are less safe than others, e.g. the Valley is a place where I wouldn’t walk alone after dark. Use common sense, and you’ll be fine.

Australia is a great continent to live in, I don’t regret going here at all, even though it was far from home and I got homesick from time to time. This has been a once in a lifetime experience and I will look back on this with a smile on my face and I know I will be back one day. Get ready for the time of your life in the land down under!

If you have any questions or would like to know, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail: bethkelfam@hotmail.com[->2] The report was written by
Beth Lunden

[->0] - http://www.qut.com.au/
[->1] - http://www.koala.net/
[->2] - mailto:bethkelfam@hotmail.com

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