So it should be Newcastle. After doing some research on the net – especially on the MicroEDU website – I had decided on the second largest city in New South Wales. I have to admit that one of the reasons was the hope of not meeting too many German students – which seems to be more the case in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. In addition, I didn’t really want to live in a big city and Sydney is only 150 km away (a stone’s throw by Australian standards!) And is very easy to reach by train. Well, there were quite a few German students, but the largest proportion of international students were Asians, some US Americans, a few Canadians, a few other Europeans, and otherwise students from all over the world. According to abbreviationfinder, University of Newcastle is short for UON.
The MicroEDU team gave me great support with the application and the whole organization by always being at my side with advice and action! This not only made it easier for me to communicate with the University of Newcastle – they were also able to quickly give me a suitable answer to any questions that came up and provide me with important information.
After everything had been clarified – confirmation, visa, flight, etc. – it was off to Newcastle. Unlike many other students, I didn’t look for my own apartment or flat share there. Instead, I applied to a “homestay” family through the University of Newcastle because I had more to do with “real Aussies” and therefore more with them Australian culture and way of life. Since I speak English while studying, it was more important to me than living in a shared apartment with other international students. However, if you intend to do this – or simply prefer to live alone – you should take the time to arrive a few weeks before the start of the semester to ensure that you have a suitable place to stay in good time. Most of the students I met said that they found what they were looking for after about 2 weeks of looking for an apartment. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about it myself, as I had been placed with a great Australian family. These host families usually take in more than one student, mostly around 2 – 3, which was really great because I also had a Canadian “host sister” included!
The two of us made our way to the University of Newcastle’s orientation week. This was organized especially for all international students, so that one could make contacts and get to know the university and its campus better. The events included the official welcome, a trade fair, the campus race, a small city tour, an afternoon in a huge shopping mall in Newcastle (that was on a Thursday, as many shops then open until 9 p. m. instead of 5 p. m. (!!!) in Australia you have to be very careful and it is best to find out about the opening times beforehand . . . ), a Sports Day and – but with a limited number of participants – a Dolphin Watching Cruise in Port Stephens. Otherwise we were also helped with the course registration and even during and towards the end of the semester you could meet nice and helpful people everywhere on campus. They were urgently needed, especially at the beginning of the semester, as the relatively large campus with its winding buildings (such as the Hunter Building) can easily become a maze. Of course you can also stick to the “main roads”, but if you know the secret routes, you can save many meters and a few minutes!
In itself, the Callaghan Campus has a charm of its own even without its buildings: it looks more like a small forest or a park. I was told by the “locals” that the campus was built on a marshland, which could also explain the high number of “mozzies” (mosquitoes) in summer. . . (If you go in semester 1, you should definitely spray yourself with insect repellent. ) Well, there are definitely many opportunities on campus to enjoy your free time in the sun. If it is too hot for you or it should rain (YES, there is rain in Australia – and that also during the semester!), You can of course also go to the air-conditioned libraries or the student hubs. In addition to the cafeteria, there are also 2 bars – especially the BAR ON THE HILL is very popular with students; there is also the bakehouse (meat pies), various cafes and bistros and a subway. The University of Newcastle also has its own stationery shop and post office. The sports area is not too small either and many clubs recruit new members during the orientation week. The Callaghan Campus can be easily reached by train and bus, but if you take the train like me and all of your courses take place on the other side of the campus, can look forward to a 15-20 minute walk across the beautiful campus. If that’s too much for you, you can also borrow a bike or ride a skateboard or scooter. Some of them just wait for the security shuttle bus, but that can often take a little longer and I am of the opinion that one should give priority to physically handicapped or injured students anyway! For me it was the case that I usually had 40 minutes to the seminar and then you can stroll through the forest for 20 minutes. The trains in Newcastle run regularly, even at night, but they are rarely punctual – but no worries, we have time.
I was very satisfied with 3 of my 4 courses. I learned a lot of new things and, above all, got to know new people through the courses. Since my courses were all for advanced learners, 99% of them consisted of Australians, who mostly knew each other very well and yet welcomed me very nicely. What I didn’t like that much was the fact that all of the essays and papers (2-4 per course) had to be written during the semester, which I found a bit stressful. That would probably have been a bit easier with entry-level courses, but since I can credit all of my courses at my German university, the effort was worth it. Unfortunately, I also went to University of Newcastle on Mondays and Thursdays, and those were the courses that I really enjoyed.
Those who are more lucky with their courses can of course look forward to long weekends where you can not only take short trips to Sydney or the Blue Mountains, but also to Canberra, Melbourne or anywhere else! A weekend with friends in Newcastle can also be a lot of fun. Whether house parties, “Barbies” or parties in the clubs, as a student you can always find something to distract yourself from studying. There are many good restaurants, pubs and discos in the city center and Newcastle’s 4 beaches are particularly impressive! They are particularly suitable for surfing. There is also a sea bath and some historical monuments such as Fort Scratchley and an old prison. From the fact that Newcastle is NSW’s largest coal export port,
All in all, my semester abroad was a really great experience that I wouldn’t want to miss! Not only did I learn more about Australia and its people, but I also made many new friends. Otherwise, I can only recommend all who decide to study in Australia to plan enough time to travel so as not to miss anything!