Hi there, I have now arrived back in Auckland and have had a great reflection on my time in Brisbane. I will definitely miss South Bank, the University of Queensland and many other aspects of living in Brisbane but I am also glad to be home now with my friends and family.
I went to Melbourne for 5 days 2 weeks before I was due to fly back to New Zealand, as I had friends living in Melbourne who I wanted to visit, and was curious to see what the city was like. I had heard great things about the city and it was very affordable to fly domestically within Australia. Unfortunately my flight was delayed 6 hours so I lost most of the day I would have had if the flight had left as scheduled. When I arrived in the city, I was amazed at the infrastructure and architecture the city had. Melbourne city has a real mix of historical and contemporary architecture. I noticed right away that the temperature was also much cooler than Brisbane as the average throughout the week I visited was between 18 and 20 degrees, and quite comparable to Auckland weather. If you go to Melbourne I highly recommend staying in the city as it’s very walkable and all the major sights are close by. They have a free CBD tram to use which is great for when foreigners visit and very convenient as there are stops all throughout the city.
I met up with a friend I had met on a Europe Contiki group I was a part of in December last year. She was a great help as she knew the city like the back of her hand and knew all of the great places to visit. She took me to the Shrine of Remembrance, retro vintage clothing stores, St Kilda Beach, Flinders Street Station, St Patricks Cathedral, and Queen Victoria Markets, and showed me the laneway street art. I also met up with another friend who had moved to Melbourne (from Auckland) earlier this year, and she showed me some Melbourne suburbs as well as taking me to the drive-in cinemas. Knowing someone in a new city is always a great help, but if you don’t know anyone, the best way to see both local and tourist sights is to just go out and explore the streets with no set places in mind. You’ll discover much more this way. I loved Melbourne because it seemed like a busier, bigger version of Auckland and I could definitely see the similarities that people had told me about.
After my trip to Melbourne I had the weekend to start packing up my belongings and prepare my apartment for when my sister came. My sister travelled with me to Noosa (Sunshine Coast) and to Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast) for most of the week, returning to Brisbane for 2 days before we left to come back to Auckland. We went to Fraser Island on a 4WD tour while staying in Noosa and had a fantastic time. My sister and I love the outdoors and so if this is something you’re interested in, I highly recommend going on a Fraser Island tour. The island is only accessible by your own car or by a tour as the island has very little permanent inhabitants and is a national park, so is quite untouched. We saw wild dingoes, went on a bush walk, visited lake Mackenzie (one of four lakes on the island), visited the pinnacles and a shipwreck. It was really fun getting to experience an off-road 4WD and being able to explore the islands hidden treasures.
We also visited Noosa National Park which was a highlight of our trip. The National Park has multiple coves (little beaches), an abundance of wildlife and gorgeous cliffs to go see. After Noosa we visited the Gold Coast where we had a buffet breakfast at the Q1 (the tallest building in the Gold Coast) so that we could view the magnificent view of the coastline and high-rises. The weather was cloudy, rainy and windy at the time we visited so we mainly visited the shops and restaurants, instead of going to various beaches.
The exchange to the University of Queensland taught me many life lessons and definitely aided in my growth as a person. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience another lifestyle, a different University, connect with people from all over the world and to have the experience of what it is like to live away from home. Living in Australia taught me how to be independent, how to live by myself, about a new culture, and a new way of thinking about my home country. I now appreciate many things about New Zealand that I had never thought of before like how having a smaller population is a huge advantage; New Zealand’s smaller population means there is less competition for jobs. Also, because we are a small country, towns in the North Island for example are for the most part able to be driven to (in Australia, its too big to drive to many places).
Thanks for following my Blog posts, I have really enjoyed reflecting on my experience and hope it can help you decide if you want to go to Australia on exchange. I hope you found my posts enjoyable and informative.