Simone: Finishing at UQ and Post-Exam Travels

Hi there, I am now down to my last 3 weeks in Australia and am sure making the most of my time, as well as having some time to reflect on my exchange experience holistically.

I had to knuckle down for 2-3 weeks from late October to mid November as I had final assessments for two of my psychology courses and final external exams during the exam period. The final exams were quite challenging as the assessment style was quite different to the University of Auckland but I finished feeling accomplished and proud that I was able to complete the exams to the best of my ability. After I had finished I took the weekend off to fully relax and unwind from the weeks of consistent studying. In South Bank where I live there is a large public lagoon called Streets beach and spent most of the weekend there as Brisbane’s temperature rises dramatically in October and November to above 30 degrees.

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I attended the UQ ball last Saturday night and had a blast! If you have the opportunity while on exchange to get a ticket to your University Ball, I highly recommend you go if you are interested. The theme was a Midsummer nights dream, so the venue (Hillstone Golf link) was decorated with fairy lights, people dressed as mystical creatures and doing gymnastics/acrobatics which was exciting to see! There was a live band playing all of the classic songs which was really enjoyable to listen to. The food was gourmet and delicious, and constant refills of champagne were given all night. I went with a Canadian girl who was also on exchange and we had such a good time dancing all night and taking photo booth photos. It was truly a magical night I’ll never forget!

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The past week I have spent exploring Brisbane with my friends before they left to go home back to the United States or Canada. It was hard to say goodbye but I know I’ll see them again soon and keep in touch. The friends you make on exchange are for life and teach you a lot about the world and other cultures. I went to some neighbouring suburbs called Bulimba, New Farm and Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, taking the ferry to get there. The Ferry is a great way to travel around Brisbane as it’s quick and really enjoyable to see the city from the water.  Bulimba had some really nice Cafes, Boutiques, restaurants and Gelato places, as well as a nice suburban feel. New Farm had a huge historical park and many old ‘Queenslanders’ which is a term used for old historical houses. Fortitude Valley had many shops and a huge Chinatown. I noticed it had many bars and nightclubs as well.

I also managed to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which is a must do if you love animals or want to see the native animals of Australia (they can be rare to see around Brisbane unless you visit rural areas). The sanctuary had a large area of Koalas of all ages, babies, mothers and retired Koalas. There were around 8-10 enclosures which housed 5-6 koalas each and so if you visit you will get to see an abundance. The sanctuary also had other native animals such as Kangaroos, some platypus, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils and an array of native birds. There are wild lorikeet feeding, opportunities to hold or touch koalas, feed kangaroos and watch a native bird show. The entry fee is affordable and makes for a fantastic day out.

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I was very fotunate to have a friend from New Zealand come to visit the Gold Coast with her family for a holiday and was able to train down to the Gold Coast to see her. It was so good to be reunited with a friend from back home and explore the city with her. She wanted to see surfers paradise so we met for Coffee at Max Brenner and the coffee there is excellent if you love sweet treats. We had a nice walk along the beach and unfortunately it was very windy and a little chilly so we took a bus back to Cooloongatta where she was staying. I hadn’t been that far south in the Gold Coast before, so it was exicitng to see a new place. She showed me around the little town which had a very relaxing and quiet beach with a great boardwalk that wrapped around the cliff displaying great views of surfers paradise highrises. She took me to Point Danger which was a great lookout on the border of NSW and QLD which was quite funny as our time kept changing on our phone as we crossed the border (NSW has daylight saving and QLD does not). I took my camera and have many photos from this day so I will never forget it.

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Keep an eye out for my next post where I will wrap up my exchange experience and tell you all about my trip to melbourne, as well as my 1 week holiday in the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast with my sister, before flying back to Auckland.

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