Carly rounds off her memorable year in Australia with her final blog post.
I hereby write my final post as I have already returned to cold, grey England. I just thought I would give you an insight as to what my last few weeks were like, and try to conclude this blog in some way.
JCU organises a graduation ceremony for international students each semester. Speeches, certificates, cake and champagne are all on the menu. You get given a cute gift bag with a cap and other typical Aussie goodies. Please note: this is not necessarily a formal dress event! My friends and I got very dressed up, only to find people wearing t-shirts and shorts. Oh well. Nothing wrong with being fabulous!
Four weeks of intense nightmare, you know the drill! In all seriousness it wasn’t that bad. I received extensive support from lecturers, probably even more than I needed. Isn’t it great to be able to be able to say that?
I was nominated by one of my teachers to meet with one of the university’s magazine columnists and chat about the experience of studying abroad. I was interviewed, recorded, and we even had an actual photography session a few days later on the esplanade, at Muddy’s playground (more authentic, early childhood education student oblige).
Tax, superannuation and TRS
Be aware that when you leave Australia, you can claim back ALL the taxes you paid, plus the superannuation that your employer contributed on your behalf, as well as the VAT (Aussies refer to that as GST) and WET (Wine Equalisation Tax) on goods worth over $300 purchased less than 60 days before departure from Australia – as long as you wear or carry the goods on board as hand luggage. This is called the Tourist Refund Scheme.
Super is basically your retirement fund. Your employer is required to contribute 9.5% of your salary to a fund of his/her choice on your behalf, when your accumulated earnings at that place of employment have reached or surpassed a certain amount. I don’t recall how much, exactly, but it’s not a lot. It’s worth noting that not only are there many superannuation funds for your employer to choose from, the amount doesn’t just sit there untouched – there are monthly fees. For this reason, if you are going to work for more than one employer, it’s worth choosing your own super fund and asking all your employers to pay into that fund. This will avoid confusion and lots of running around when it comes to claiming it back, and will also avoid any empty super accounts that have been drained by fees. Know that you cannot apply for a super refund until your visa has expired (regardless of whether or not you leave the country before it does). You can apply for your taxes back after the 30th of June or make an early tax return application. Overall I would not expect to get much super back, but when I am hoping to get around $1000 AUD in tax back.
Facts to be aware of if you are considering Australia for your Study Abroad experience
- It isn’t hot everywhere, all the time. In fact, you can ski in Australia. Winter months run from June to August. In Queensland the temperature would remain fairly high and the sun would keep on shining. In New South Wales you’re looking at (possible) snow and a thick scarf. Don’t make the same mistake that I did: fly from Cairns to Sydney in October and get off the plane to find it’s freezing and you haven’t packed any long-sleeved clothes! Yes, I made undue assumptions that in Australia, it’s just hot everywhere. Never assume.
- Each Australian state has its different laws, policies and even time zones. Some have daylight savings and others don’t. It’s a very large country – you can pretty much fit Europe into it. To drive from the East Coast to the West coast takes about 50 hours.
I did not see any crocodiles, cassowaries, or killer snakes and spiders. I did see snakes and spiders, but they did not want anything to do with me. Sadly, I did not see any koalas, either! I saw plenty of kangaroos though. Lots of them. And wallabies. And whales, dolphins, seals, rays, turtles and sharks (harmless ones, on the reef). The list of animals you can see in the wild in Australia is endless. For this reason I encourage you to opt for exploring in the wild over going to the zoo or on crocodile safaris on such. If you really must pay to see animals because you are dying to see a koala or other rare animal, opt for a rescue centre or somewhere that puts the money back into wildlife protection, such as the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island.
- No one really knows what ‘arvo’ means. Some’ll tell you it means afternoon, some’ll tell you it means evening. So the best answer when someone asks you if you want to go catch a movie this arvo, ask ‘em what time.
Back to the roots
I am back in homeland Brighton now, and it’s great to see friends and family. I’ve been away from home before. I’ve been a ‘traveller’ for as long as I can remember, so I can’t go into detail about how you will feel changed, specifically. The process has been ongoing for me. But what I can say is that each journey I take enables me to discover a new part of myself, something I enjoy or a potential direction to take my life in. I can tell you that there are no negatives to traveling. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. Any possible outcome is going to be positive. At the very least you will have met awesome people, come to understand the different ways that different cultures do things, and you will have become stronger and more independent. Please feel free to ask any questions or share any doubts with us, so that we may help put your mind at ease, and help you embark on the journey of a lifetime!
‘Til then, cheerio, enjoy your arvo mate.