It’s a little hard to write about a normal day in the life at the moment because I’m on my Summer holiday from Sydney University, travelling around Australia and New Zealand. I’m currently staying and working on a vineyard in Western Australia. But here’s a typical day for me when I’m at uni:
On an average day, I normally have a 9 or 10am lecture and be out my student flat at 8:30am. This gives me time to walk to Uni, grab a coffee (Australian coffee is the best, and cheap on campus) and get to class.
On Monday’s I have a meeting with my Physics project supervisor. One of my units of study is a ‘Senior Physics Project’, kind of like a final year project, but pre-final year, and it’s a great opportunity that the Physics department offered! This project keeps me quite busy and I work several hours on it a week.
As my year in Australia is an additional year, I have options to study different units (modules) to what I would in my third year in York. For example, I have done a unit in computing (MatLab) and a unit called ‘Learning in Outdoor Education’, which was for exchange students only and consisted of going away on hikes and camping in the Blue Mountains, then reflecting on the experiences! So overall, with these units and another normal Physics one, I have about 15-20 contact hours a week.
I have found the way they do assessments over here is very different from studying Natural Sciences at York. For example, the weighting of assessments towards the final grade of the unit was much less reliant on the final exam and much more on the assignments throughout the Semester. So, on an average day, I either go to the library or go back to the flat to do some assignment work.
Life outside the lecture theatre
On those days when there aren’t looming deadlines, I have time to either go to the gym, go home and relax, head into the city or go somewhere for lunch with a friend.
If I had enough time and good weather, I hit the beach. It’s about 40 mins by public transport to get to Bondi Beach from my accommodation. Next Semester, I hope to live closer to the beach and commute to university, not to the beach.
There’s definitely a great party scene in Sydney (clubs with outdoor pools, super edgy bars etc). I’ve personally just not gotten into it, but life as an exchange student out here can definitely give someone the opportunity to discover it all!
So at the weekend, I would generally do some exploring, a hike, maybe visit a new café or restaurant, go to a different park or beach. One weekend I did a surf camp and another weekend I flew up the coast to Byron Bay with some friends on a super cheap flight deal!
The difference between studying in the UK and Oz?
There are a few huge differences between studying in the UK and in Australia. One being that they have two Semesters per year in Sydney, but a mid-Semester break around two-thirds of the way through. Which of course for an exchange student is the perfect travel opportunity. For my mid-Semester break, I flew to Adelaide and went on a road trip to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road.
Another difference is that most domestic students live at home with their parents and commute to University – sometimes an hour and a half or more. This means that whilst there are societies and sports clubs in at Sydney Uni, I would say they are not as thriving as in York (even though Sydney Uni has 60,000 students), and there isn’t the same on-campus feel. But they still run some pretty cool campus events, and give out lots of free or cheap food!
The final difference is the weather… the campus looks beautiful and is bathed in sunshine most days.
It’s not a bad life out here!