Catch up with Carly Forsaith, as she finishes her exams and gets used to life in sunny Cairns.
Hello readers! As the first term draws to a close, I finally have a little time to give you some love and attention. Although it was still a fairly close one – I’m actually on the plane back from my holidays as I write this, and school starts again tomorrow! But I’m sure you understand; I had to make sure I got as much exploring as possible crammed into my week and a half off.
I just flew to Sydney and back for less than £150. It’s a beautiful city where I got to catch up with some old friends who showed me around the famous landmarks and the less well-known spots too. I also got to spend a few days in one of the most charming little towns I have ever been to: Berrara, a few hours South of Sydney. And for whoever thinks that traveling in Australia is expensive, my train ticket there was £4 after my student discount. My friend and his lovely little family hosted me in their house overlooking the beach on one side and a national park on the other. I hand-fed wild kangaroos that were hanging out on the front lawn (apparently they are tame from being around humans so much), saw a Python (non-venomous) and a Red-Bellied (venomous) snake. I took a morning cruise on the Tasman Sea and saw Humpback whales happily just cruising along. But the highlight has to be when my friend spontaneously offered to teach me to surf and as we swam towards the big waves on our boards, dolphins generously put on a show for us, leaping through the water and diving in and out of the waves before our very eyes. There were several pods spread across the horizon; it was truly magical.
Now how about a little update about my experience studying abroad? It is in many ways similar to studying at UEL: lectures and tutorials, independent workload of approximately 12 hours per week per subject, and a mixture of in-class and hand-in assignments and presentations, independently and in groups. However at JCU students are still required to purchase text books and physically hand in paper assignments. I do prefer reading a book over a digital file, but this can rapidly become quite expensive. My ideas for cheap alternatives are: acquiring second-hand books on campus or online (there is even a Facebook page), and photocopying/scanning required pages as the weeks go by, using the library copies (this requires organization!).
I have taken part in a mentoring program through one of the social clubs. It involves going to a school weekly or fortnightly and helping school-aged children with sustainability projects. It is very educational and coincidentally very relevant to my degree course. The kids are super smart and have ongoing projects such as promoting the recycling of cigarette butts and boycotting over-packaged products.
JCU provides a lot of support to students in general, and even more so to international students as we benefit from access to both the regular university staff and the international team. Not that I can say I have needed the latter much. Life in Cairns is great! I have met plenty of new people, visited many new places and taken part in countless fun activities. The highlights are:
– Zoo to You, a mobile zoo that came to the university, giving us the opportunity to see and touch various wild animals.
– Skydiving over a breathtaking landscape
– Quidditch. That’s right, JCU offers many sports including the Wizarding World’s national sport.
– Countless hikes and visits to national parks/natural waterfalls. The landscape in Cairns and its surroundings has much to offer.
– Even more BBQs. Along the beaches there are barbecues available for anyone to use, and it’s free! JCU is always looking for an excuse to sizzle up some sausages (the day that exam dates were released they even made a cake and brought in an ice cream van!).
– My first live AFL match. That’s Australian Football League. It’s actually nothing like football, so don’t be fooled by the name – in fact it has more in common with rugby. And our team won (Go Cairns Saints!)
I have now moved into a lovely flat that I share with three Aussies – they are awesome and there’s a pool! Guess what? My rent is half what it was in London. And that’s not unusual! It’s located very close to the city centre which means I get to ride my new red bike to the shops and bring fresh fruit and veggies from Rusty’s market back in my basket. Living in a place where it’s always warm is easy.
Dear readers, if you are yourself a student in the UK, I’d like to wish you good luck with your own first term that I believe has just kicked off. Until next time, g’day!