Oz Diaries 1: Leaving Home

By Olivia Dove (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia).

Hello there! A warm (at least by English standards) welcome to my first blog entry. Unlike many of the others, this entry will be separated by the location I wrote each one at on my lengthy journey to Australia.

Location: Kent, UK

Date: 28th June 2013

Leaving home is not easy for everyone. However, I don’t suffer particularly bad from homesickness, which means that I am not too worried about departing for Australia in a few days’ time. If you are, studying abroad is even more appropriate for you to help ease you off homesickness syndromes, whilst still having access to counseling (I’m confident that most universities offer such services). What was more nerve-wracking for me was the long wait for my first year results; a 60% average is required by the University of Manchester for a student to study abroad (this grade is a 2.1 class), and, due to the early start of the semester in Australia and the time needed to grade papers, I was unfortunate in the sense that I have only just discovered my grade with three days before my planned departure date. My flight was already booked (mostly refundable) and visa paid for (fully unrefundable) so there was, as well as academic and personal reasons, a strong financial wish for getting the grades! Thankfully I checked today and did perfectly well in my exams, and so amongst the excitement I should probably pack those last few items now…

Location: Heathrow, London, UK

Date: 1st July 2013

Compared to the Olympics or Royal Wedding, there is no big leaving ceremony for a study abroad student, especially one that’s only going for a single semester. Instead, a couple of friends visited me and phone calls to my grandparents were rung. Other than that, the week before leaving the UK was like any other. A tip for anyone studying abroad in the future: unlock your phone at least two months in advance. I tried within the last fortnight and shop after shop delayed me, with eventually no one being able to unlock either my network or model. But had I managed to do it, I would possibly have needed up to a month before the unlock code worked. So unlock early!

The leaving day arrived and my family came with me to the airport to see me off. My brother was the first to say farewell as he had to head into London, and the short and snappy ‘Bye’ was to be expected (but he did give me a hug – how cute). The parents were next before I walked through the doors to security and tip number 2 is to take plenty of tissues to the airport. I myself didn’t need them, but the same cannot be said about my dearest mother. My dad, as ever, told one last pun before I left to brace the necessary security checks. I had only flown as far as Germany on my own before, so I have to admit that flying across the world solo was scarier.

Location: Hong Kong

Date: 4th July 2013

I have left England, yet I still will not arrive at my destination (Brisbane for the University of Queensland) until the 13th of July. My flights were booked in such a way to give me the chance to visit a friend from Manchester at her home in Hong Kong for a few days, and then relatives of mine in Sydney for a week. As well as visiting loved ones, having two weeks to battle any jet-lag is a well-welcomed idea.

The humidity here in Hong Kong is insane; imagine a bath vapourised (so, basically a sauna) that surrounds you wherever you go and you have Hong Kong in July. It was a shock from the English weather so be warned if you’re planning on studying or visiting here. Shorts, suncream and an acceptance of sweating are a must for any student planning to study in a hot climate in general.

If you do have a chance to stop over in Hong Kong at any point, I would recommend the following activities: getting the cable car to Ngong Ping to see the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha; having a day at Ocean Park, and riding the tram to the Peak. The public transport system in Hong Kong is superb (as well as air-conditioned) so you’ll have no problems getting to places.

Image A view from a Peak

Location: Sydney, Australia

Date: 11th July 2013

Just two days until I arrive at my final destination (a nice one, unlike the franchise) and the buzz of anticipation is kicking in. Will the people be nice? How lost will I get? What level of difficulty will my exams be? Who do I go to if sick? Despite what those questions might suggest to you, I’m far more excited than scared for studying in Australia. Whilst in Sydney I’ve sorted out a bank account, a phone with an Australian sim card, started the online enrollment process and planned my airport pick up. All fun-sounding activities, I know, but it will lessen the hassle of paperwork when I arrive.

Besides all of that, I’ve seen the sights in Sydney (from Opera House to Taronga zoo to Manly) whilst also bumping into a few English rugby players here for the final Lions match.

Image

Chilling with some Lions (at Bondi Beach)

All in all, I am well rested and beyond ready to move into my college. Bring it on, Brisbane!

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