Erfahrungsbericht: Philipp Rossmann

„The University of Newcastle is in my eyes a really cool and good university.“

My journey

My journey “down under” started in late July 2011. Websites for cheap student flights are travel overland etc. I landed at the International Airport in Sydney and from there took the train to Newcastle, what I can highly recommend, as it´s first of all pretty easy and cheap, although it takes approximately 3 hours.

After I finally arrived at Newcastle train station I still had to make my way further up the coast to Port Stephens, more precisely Salamander Bay, as I spent the first 1,5 months there staying with my aunt who is Australian. I´m mentioning this, because Port Stephens has some really beautiful beaches, which are pretty good for surfing or sandboarding at the dunes of Stockton beach. Definitely worth at least a day trip and you can easily and again very cheap reach it by bus.

I definitely enjoyed my time there, with good food, a nice little guest house for myself but to be honest there is not much going on in Port Stephens and although Newcastle is only about 50 km south, the weekly bus rides to uni took me 1.5 hours one way and the bus also didn´t go on a very regular basis.

Accommodation

Therefore, it was definitely the right decision to move to Newcastle after these 1.5 months. I had a few visits at possible accomodations (I can highly recommend www.gumtree.com.au, where you can find pretty much everything, beginning from the obligatory second hand surf board over jobs, up to accommodation; the system is pretty similar to ebay, although there are no bids, but the seller sets a price and the purchaser can decide whether this price is okay; another source for accommodation are the university of Newcastle sites for off campus accommodation) and finally found a shared one with a guy from New Zealand for 120$/week, which is pretty cheap for Australian standards.

The district was called The Hill, pretty close to the beautiful Bar Beach, but also Newcastle and Nobbys beach are in walking distance. The Darby street with a lot of bars and restaurants is also pretty close and I can just recommend everybody to look for an accommodation close to the beach, so either Cooks Hill, The Hill, Newcastle East, Mereweather etc. if possible. The train connection to uni is with 12 minutes still pretty good, but you will for sure just enjoy yourself much more if you live in the just mentioned areas.

Newcastle itself is really beautiful, but I for myself needed some time to really recognize it, as you usually can´t tell on first sight, but its beaches are stunning, you have a pretty good surf, and I can just recommend everybody to at least try this outstanding sport, it is so much fun, and the feeling when you catch your first real wave is just incredible.

So back to Newcastle. If you take Newcastle train station as starting point, the beaches are pretty close, closest is Nobbys, followed by Newcastle beach (our surfing beach). The other direction is Honeysuckle, it´s towards the harbor, but Honeysuckle is pretty cool to go out with some nice bars and restaurants again, like The Brewery oh and the legendary Harry´s the Wheels, an old train wagon where now the best hotdogs etc. in town are sold. Ask for a hotdog de wheels! ;) Close is also the nightclub with the funny name Fanny´s which you can check out as well. In the before mentioned Darby street you have an irish bar, the Finnigans and a lot of other clubs and bars.

So just go out, explore Newcastle for yourself, there is a lot to see and everybody just has to make their own experiences, I can only say that I really liked it a lot.

The University

The University of Newcastle is in my eyes a really cool and good university. It´s pretty big compared to Augsburg, the campus is huge, and so green and beautiful, you feel like you´re in the bush sometimes ;) I had 3 courses, Advertising and Promotion Strategy, Leadership and Entrepreneurship and Cross Cultural Management and Negotiations. I didn´t like the last mentioned course a lot, but there was a pretty high interaction in all courses.

A difference is, that you have to do much more during the semester like essays, papers etc. but that also kind of forces you to look at the different stuff and therefore if you want or not, you automatically learn something. I liked the system and first thought that it´s therefore easier to have good marks, as the end exam only counts like 20% of your final mark, but I recognized quite quickly, that it was not as easy as I thought to have good marks but if you still wanted to achieve good results you had to put quite a bit of effort into that. So my results were at the end not good, but also not too bad, at least I didn´t fail in any course and I definitely learned something in each single subject. The professors were all pretty good and friendly and always willing to help.

So to conclude, I didn´t regret any second that I chose Newcastle/Australia for my semester abroad, Australia is a beautiful country with a lot of things to explore and although a bit expensive, definitely still worth it. The lifestyle is in my opinion totally different to the one in Europe, everything is easy going, you talk with strangers as if you knew them for ages, everybody is friendly, it totally doesn´t matter at all what clothes you´re wearing and yeah, also a positive thing of course is that you really have the opportunity to improve your English if you are open, not only hang around with the international students but also get to know some Aussies.

Travelling around

For travelling I can recommend the East Coast, I really liked it there, although everbody does it. Because the semester is only 4 months in Australia a friend and me also took this opportunity to travel 2 months through south-east-asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, which I can also definitely recommend. If you want to spend some more time in Australia I heard the West Coast is also stunning and beautiful. Also short trips to New Zealand or Fiji are no problem. (JetStar is a good airways for stuff like that)

Tips are that there are some providers who offer car relocation deals. We for example were able to lease a big camper van for 4 days for 5$/day and had to drive it from Brisbane up to Cairns. On our way we stopped at Arlie Beach and did a 2 day sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands in the Great Barrier Reef with diving, which was pretty cool, although the skipper was a little crazy ;)

Another is, that you get pretty awesome deals for brand new surfboards at Bondi Beach in Sydney. I bought mine with everything for 400$.

If you get Bafög you can more or less completely finance your stay in Australia, but keep in mind that you only receive it until December for the semester 2.

I hope I could help a bit to change your mind and choose the University of Newcastle for your semester abroad.
Cheers, Phil