I spent my semester abroad as part of my bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a focus on intercultural relationships at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne from February to June 2018. It was my 4th semester and I had to take three (instead of the usual four) courses there in order to receive the 22 German credit points I had to collect.
Melbourne was my favorite city for the semester abroad anyway, since I attended an information fair at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences. A student from the 5th semester had drawn my attention to Swinburne University in Melbourne at this fair. I had often heard people rave about Melbourne and the student who had spent her semester there assured me that it was simply terrific there. I was pretty excited right away. After that, a long time passed and I researched in different directions. Amsterdam was also in my shortlist of cities.
However, the other student had also told me about ‘MicroEDU ‘ and Swinburne University was represented on their website. Since MicroEDU made it possible to get a slight reduction in tuition fees there, Melbourne was even the cheaper option for me in this regard and I got in touch with MicroEDU. The application process was very easy thanks to their placement. MicroEDU passed all the necessary documents between me and the university very quickly, so that I never had to come into direct contact with the university myself.
I also got tips about accommodation and courses from the other student from Fulda who had been there. She recommended that I live on the university campus, but I found the rent there to be too high, which is why I decided to look for something on site after various friends had assured me that there would be many cheaper options.
In the end, the only difficult thing about applying for me was choosing a course at the host university. It was not easy to get an idea of what to expect from the online course descriptions. In addition, many of the courses that I had shortlisted were not offered in the end or I did not meet the admission requirements. In the end, I chose ethics, environmental philosophy and applied social psychology.
Then I flew to Melbourne, where a shuttle service picked me up from the university and brought me to my hostel. There I immediately went to look for room offers on the Internet. I was able to arrange four viewing appointments for the next few days. Amazingly, even three out of four rooms were very much as I wanted. In the end I decided on the cheapest and most conveniently located option and moved to a backpacker flat-share for three weeks until it was free. This saved me money and met nice people outside of the university in the time before I started studying.
During those weeks I did a lot with my roommates there. I went to several festivals and concerts and explored the city extensively. With the high summer temperatures, I was often on the beach or enjoyed one of the many lush parks. The orientation week also took place on the university campus. For a week, many stands were set up on campus, where you could take part in competitions or various campaigns, get giveaways, pizza or donuts from nearby shops and there were many cool events from the university. There was also a great atmosphere throughout the orientation events for the individual faculties and especially for the international students, and the university offered a varied welcome offer such as a barbecue to get to know each other. I started making friends in college.
Then I moved into my own room in a nice big wooden house four train stops from the Swinburne University of Technology, short for SUT by abbreviationfinder. From now on I always rode my bike for 20 minutes to the university, which started at the end of February.
Since I was taking three courses, I had nine hours a week, spread over four days, to attend class. My courses were designed so that a third of the time is spent at university and two thirds studying for yourself.
There were many different groups on campus where you could do sports for free. The swimming pool opposite could also be used free of charge for us students. I joined the yoga group and started swimming once or twice a week and attending yoga classes.
I didn’t have to write an exam in any of my three courses, but instead had to hand in several smaller assignments. Except for one, all of these were due in the last week of the semester.
In the ethics course in particular, I initially had minor difficulties understanding the material and following the lessons. Sometimes I had the feeling that the exact meaning of the words could not be translated one-to-one into German, which could affect the logic or the understanding of arguments. But I noticed how these very high requirements helped me a lot after a while so that I can finally express myself in English much more elaborately. Without even realizing it, I found reading texts easier and easier.
The subject of environmental philosophy has changed my life quite a bit, even though I’ve always been interested in environmental issues. I rather expected that we would learn pure facts about climate change, but it went far beyond that and it was the professor’s claim to create a much deeper understanding of our relationship with nature. On the basis of this, he put us students in a position to be able to give our own assessments of the measures required to avoid the emerging climate catastrophe. This was supported by the ethics course, which was appropriately given by a friend of the professor of the environmental philosopher and which also shaped my moral attitudes. The relationship with the professors in Australia is generally very friendly and I have had a good professional exchange with the two professors who teach these subjects.
The Department of Applied Social Psychology also proved to be a good choice, although it was a third-semester course for students of psychology and I am thus only to some of the methods and approaches used had. Since we often worked in groups in the seminar, there was a more intensive exchange with my fellow students and it was easier for me to get used to it. In this subject, we have come up with measures and programs that, based on socio-psychological theories, target a certain behavior of individual people or groups that is to be changed.
Towards the end of the semester, my workload became increasingly stronger, which was due to the fact that in the first half I had more focused on leisure, as the temperatures were very summery and I wanted to take all the fun activities with me. In view of the many deadlines, I remember the last few weeks as very stressful. Nevertheless, it was manageable and my results in the housework were nonetheless to my satisfaction and sometimes better than expected.
I am very, very happy to have completed my semester at Swinburne University. I have perceived the university in general, the teaching and the campus with all the leisure activities as incredibly positive and would recommend everyone to study there too.