Jessica: 4 unexpected things I’ve learned from studying in Australia

Blogger: Jessica Boorman
Jess is currently studying a Bachelor of Nursing degree. She is an international student who was born in South Africa, grew up in Dubai and now resides in Toowoomba. If she's not sipping on a cup of home-brewed, pour-over coffee, she can be found strumming on her guitar, taking pictures, plant shopping or eating sushi.

A year ago, I moved to Australia from Dubai to get my degree in nursing. With no family or friends in Australia and having never even visited Toowoomba, I was a little nervous about moving but also excited for the unknown and the new experiences to come!

Since moving here, I have encountered a few surprises about life in Australia that I did not expect. Some of these things are quite small, for example, I've discovered that everyone loves McDonald's, coffee is expensive (but so good!), and there are lots of things you can get student discounts on (e.g. the bus, movie tickets).

Jessica at Picnic Point having coffee and looking at an amazing Australian landscape.

But these are the four most surprising things about Australia that have shaped by study experience:

1. The weather

I moved to Australia in July, so it was during winter and it was definitely colder than I was expecting! Moving from Dubai, where it was summer, to Toowoomba in the winter, I got quite a shock! Being on a hill, Toowoomba catches the wind, making the cold weather feel even worse. However, this windy location proved to be a blessing in the summer months!

The intensity of the sun surprised me too. I thought the summers wouldn't be too bad. Growing up in Dubai I figured Toowoomba wouldn't compare, but the summers can get very hot! I recommend buying a sunscreen with a high SPF for the warmer months!

The warmer months caused some spells of homesickness, but Skype is a wonderful thing! If ever I was feeling particularly homesick, I knew my family was just a Skype call away. Unfortunately, time-zone differences can sometimes be a pain, in which case, I would call a friend, watch a movie or listen to music. Anything that will lift my mood and take my mind off home.

Jessica sitting with friends on top of a mountain, looking at an amazing view.

2. The wildlife

Many of us who come from other countries are surprised by the amount of wildlife you see around uni in Toowoomba. I expected that I would only see kangaroos and wallabies in a zoo, but I've already seen a few kangaroos and wallabies in the wild when driving around!

Jessica walking on a hill with a friend.

3. The people

I lived at the USQ Residential Colleges in my first semester and by taking part in events, sitting with different people at meals etc, I started to make friends. I learnt quickly that my comfort zone would be a distant friend for me in this first semester if I wanted to meet people and get involved. College is a great way to meet people because it organizes activities and events to take part in, which encourages you to meet people. It was wonderful meeting and sharing my experiences with students who were on exchanges from all over the world who lived on-college as well.

Jessica at a carnival with friends.

4. The study

Uni is not as stressful as I had anticipated. I took a gap year before starting uni and was really worried that I would be behind and not able to get back into the swing of studying again, but honestly, there are people of all ages who are at different stages in their lives studying the same thing and you learn to stick together.

The support from other students and the lecturers is great. They are always willing to answer questions or help in any way they can because they understand what being a student is like.

I’ve had some ups and downs since moving here, but I love living in Australia and would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who is considering it!

For more information about what it’s like to move to Australia to study, check out this guide to making the most of your Aussie experience and download these amazing apps for Aussie life. To apply to study at USQ, visit the USQ international website.


Related:

Peng: 10 things that surprised me about Australia, from a Chinese student’s perspective

Understanding and overcoming culture shock

Laura: 3 highlights of moving to Australia for study