Erfahrungsbericht: Robin Kreimeyer

Robin Kreimeyer
„Experience Report University of Technology, Sydney 2017“

Experience Report  University of Technology, Sydney

Spring Semester 2017 (July-December)

Home University: University of St. Gallen (CH)

 

Sydney Opera House

 

1. University

1.1 Application

The application process was straightforward and easy. You have the choice to either directly apply (with HSG transcripts being sent to UTS by Student Mobility at HSG) or with the help of an agency which minimises administrative efforts. Your chances of being accepted as a HSG student are very high and your grade point average seems to be irrelevant.

In order to live and study in Australia, you are required to apply for a visa. Most students choose to apply for a Student Visa (Subclass 500), but there is also the possibility to apply for a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417). This can be done once you received your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from UTS. The application itself takes a while as you are required to provide a lot of information. After submitting the application, the visa is normally granted within minutes.

Additionally, it is necessary to acquire health insurance as an international student. UTS will refer you to their partner for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), but you are free to choose other provid- ers as well.

The course selection is done online. There is no bidding system, so places are allocated based on availability. We did not experience any troubles to be assigned to any of the courses we chose. Though, due to the early start of the semester compared to the Swiss or German academic schedule, it can be an issue to be assigned to a subject with prerequisite courses which have been completed in the previous semester, as grades are not published when you apply for the UTS courses (this is especially relevant for economics courses). Additionally, it can be a bit of a hassle to check creditability of courses at the home university and simultaneously secure spots in desired subjects, so start early to avoid disappointment.

If you choose to apply for student housing and your budget is limited, you should do so immediately on the first day the application portal is opened, otherwise your chances of receiving a room in a shared apartment are very slim and you will only be able to choose a pricey one-person studio apart- ment. Still, you should consider to look for independent housing options (see 1.2).

 

1.2 Life

All of us lived in the largest UTS student housing option ”Yura Mudang“ in standard studio apart- ments. In this context, we would recommend to rather have a look for independent and private alter- natives of housing which are neither the official UTS student housing nor private student housing providers (e.g. Iglu or Urbanest). The only advantage of these student housing options is mainly a good and central location with relatively low rent.

On the other hand, in our eyes, there were certain disadvantages though, which dampened the over- all living experience. When arriving at the housing, you will be required to buy everything you need for living yourself, from blankets and pillows to kitchenware and cutlery. Furthermore, the security rules regarding night time curfew, the consumption of alcohol and gatherings in student apartments were not suitable for students of our age. Moreover, the student population in Yura Mudang seemed to mainly consist of German students which does not enable a true experience of studying abroad. In this regard, we would also recommend to speak English with all of your Swiss, German and/or Austrian friends to avoid perpetuating this “German bubble” at UTS.

If you start early enough, you might be able to find an affordable private shared flat closer to the beaches of Bondi, Coogee or Bronte, as friends of ours did. This would make you much more inde- pendent and enable a more authentic experience of living in Sydney.

After arrival, you will be looking for a mobile phone provider. Many choose Optus but another good alternative are the Aldi Mobile prepaid plans as they are quite cheap and run over the Telstra network which ensures good coverage when travelling in Australia.

If you want to work aside to your studies in Sydney, you can try to get a job at bars or restaurants in the city. This requires you to attain a specific qualification certificate first and many of these establish- ments use overseas students for “unpaid trial periods” which oftentimes eventually do not result in employment. As a better alternative you can apply for casual or part-time jobs at UTS. Two of us got a casual job at UTS as research assistants. We sent emails with job applications to all the heads of departments at the university. Responses were always friendly and helpful and eventually resulted in well-paid positions. The workload will definitely vary from job to job though.

 

Sydney view

 

1.3 Sydney

Sydney is without question one of the most liveable cities in the world offering a wide range of diverse regions from the thriving CBD and harbour area to scenic beaches like Bondi, Bronte and Coogee. With regard to infrastructure or shopping facilities Sydney is quite sim- ilar to large European cities and you will be instantly able to get your affairs in order to focus on all the fun parts the city has to offer.

Australians are generally very nice people and you will be able to make friends from the very start. The nightlife in Sydney is a lot of fun and ranges from authentically Australian pubs and commercially oriented night clubs to alternative techno parties. However, it needs to be mentioned that Australia has strict laws concerning public drinking and nightlife. For example, this year Sydney initiated a night curfew which prevents you from entering clubs from 1:30 a.m. Frankly, that was pretty an- noying in the beginning if you are not used to it, but after a while you easily accustom your- self and plan your night accordingly.

The suburbs of Sydney are beautiful and we spent a lot of time outside of the CBD at the beaches in the east namely Bondi, Bronte, Coogee and Maroubra. While the latter is by far one of the best beaches around Sydney to go surfing, Bondi is a scenic spot with a lot going on both at day and night and definitely worth spending some time at. Further, you might want to visit smaller and quieter beaches in the north east like Milk Beach. If you are inter- ested in learning to surf, you should consider giving it a shot at the several Surf Camps that are organised for UTS students (www.surfcamp.com.au). If you want to continue surfing after that it makes a lot of sense to buy a second-hand surfboard instead of renting one, since you will be able to sell it again for almost the same amount of money you paid.

 

Beaches in Australia

 

1.4 Studying & Subjects (A selection of courses we have taken)

  • Fundamentals of Business Finance (25300)

    • 2 Online Quizzes (20%) with two attempts, 1 Group Assignment (20%), Final Exam (60%)

    • Lectures & tutorials; mandatory attendance depending on tutor

    • Interesting content and highly relevant concepts

    • Plenty of material and practice tools given online; acquisition of additional

      material (book) not necessary; tutorial content important for final exam

    • All in all, interesting subject and easily doable

  • Economics of Competition and Strategy (23504)

    • 2 quizzes (20% each), 1 paper (20%), 1 final exam (40%) (workload was

    • spread over whole semester)

    • Lectures & tutorials; Attendance is not mandatory

    • Very good grades with little effort

    • Covered a lot of the content of Microeconomics I-III (HSG)

    • Teacher was very young and passionate about this subject and made this

    • class a lot of fun

  • Intermediate Microeconomics (23567)

    • §  4 Online Problem Sets (40%), Final Exam (60%)

    • Lectures & tutorials; mandatory attendance depending on tutor

    • Interesting concepts building on the content of Microeconomics I (HSG)

    • Extensive & detailed lectures and practice in lectures sufficient for Problem

    • Sets & Final Exam; no additional materials necessary

    • Well manageable subject with small overall workload

  • Intermediate Macroeconomics (23568)

    • 4 online quizzes in the course of the semester (35%); 1 final exam (65%)

    • Lectures & tutorials, attendance is not mandatory

    • Probably the most work-intensive and challenging subject we took; nevertheless, doable.

  • Introduction to Law (70110)

    • 1 paper (30%), class participation (20%), 1 final open book exam (50%)

    • Lectures always in 3h block; Attendance is mandatory (you are allowed to

      miss one single class)

    • A lot of reading and self preparation

    • The book is quite expensive, but you can borrow it at the library (I highly

      recommend to have a hard copy of the book in the exam since you can then

      look for keywords in the index)

    • This is not the easiest subject I had at UTS but still very well doable. The

      teacher was very nice and it was very interesting to learn a lot about the Australian history and legal system

  • Labour Economics (23021)

    • Creditable as core elective economics subject at HSG (max. 4 ECTS); Rest as

      electives

    • 8 Weekly online quizzes (20%) , 1 paper in a group of two (15%), 1 final

      exam (65%)

    • Lectures & tutorials; Attendance is not mandatory

    • Interesting subject, but the lectures are quite packed with a lot of content,

      respective empirics and examples

    • There is a book which might help to understand the content better. You can

      find an older version of it online which is absolutely sufficient.

    • All in all, a good choice and very well doable

  • Strategy: Theory and Practice (21602)

    • 5 short essays and group presentations (5% each); 1 essay with approx.
    • 4000 words (50%), 1 final exam (25%)

    • Lectures & tutorials with mandatory attendance

    • The course structure was completely changed in 2017 and has become

      more work-intensive and challenging now than it used to be before

    • Probably one of the most work-intensive subjects for HSG business students

    • The two-weekly group work as well as the main essay cause comparatively a

      lot of work during the semester; the final exam was fair if you attended the last lecture

  • Transnational Management (21591)

    • 1 paper (50%), 1 final exam (50%)

    • Lectures & tutorials; Attendance not mandatory

    • Workload is quite high; the individual paper took a lot of time and you have

    • to study a lot for the exam by heart 5

    • content not very interesting (abstract management concepts) and lecturer does not put in a lot of effort to make this subject a little bit more exciting

    • Not necessary to buy book; case studies are online and in library

    • In the end, we would not recommend this subject 

 

2. Australia & Travelling

Although the life in Sydney is splendid and you will most certainly have a good time there, we highly recommend to leave Sydney after the exams in the beginning/mid of November to explore what else Australia has to offer. Besides, you have one full week for travelling in the so called “study vacation” (STUVAC) in the mid of the semester. We recommend hiring a campervan to travel Australia for at least four weeks. Additionally, we highly enjoyed our road trip through New Zealand which you should invest about four weeks in as well. In the following, we will list some must-sees that you should visit during your time in Australia, accompanied by some of the pictures we took there.

2.1 Byron Bay

We experienced Byron Bay as one of the most beautiful and unique places in Australia. It has a vibrant culture and is the perfect place for combining surfing, beach time and nightlife all in one. It is definitely worth going here for longer than just a couple of days to fully in- dulge in this unique place. 

2.2 Melbourne

Melbourne is known as the most-liveable city in the world and only about 1,5 hours away from Sydney by plane. Make sure you spend a couple of days there to indulge in the exciting nightlife and treat yourself to the vibe of this gorgeous metropolis.

2.3 Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road in the south-west of Mel- bourne is one of the most scenic and beautiful routes in the world. Rent a car either for one day from Mel- bourne or a campervan and stay longer to explore this area. The latter enables you to experience the route in a more relaxed fashion and to stay at picturesque na- tional park camping spots along the way.

2.4 Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay is only about a two-hour car ride away from Sydney and is by far one of the most beautiful beaches we have seen in Australia. If you can not make it to the Whitsunday Is- lands, this is a great alternative, but definitely worth going in any case.

2.5 Fraser Island

Fraser Island is absolutely unique in the world and was most certainly one of the highlights of our road trip. Spend 2-3 days to explore this unspoilt island, experience glorious sunsets and swim in the crystal clear water of the many lakes. However, be aware that you are only able to enter the island with a 4WD car. Together with the ferry fee, as well as a camping and driving permit, you can expect total costs of about 200-280 AUD per person for two entire days, largely depending on how big your group is.

2.6 Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsunday Islands are a good destination for your study vacation (STUVAC) in Sep- tember. We highly recommend renting an apartment or house on Hamilton Island instead of being based at Airlie Beach. The latter offers more nightlife opportunities, but can’t com- pare to the beauty of Hamilton Island. From here you can go and visit the Great Barrier Reef for a snorkelling trip and experience the world famous Whitehaven beach.