Experience Report Sylwia Smosarska University of Western Australia

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1 Experience Report Sylwia Smosarska University of Western Australia Name: Sylwia Smosarska Exchange semester: Semester 2, 2015 Academic year: Host University: University of Western Australia Country: Australia TOPIC: Admission, arrival, housing How was your arrival organized? Did someone pick you up from the airport/station? The University of Western Australia offers an airport pick up service from Perth Airport for incoming exchange students. The service was free, and they are offering to drop you off at every location you want, whether that is the University accommodation, or a self-chosen hostel. Was an orientation or introduction activity organized? We got a mentor assigned, who was also a University Student. She told us about the working ways of UWA and the things we have to complete before the semester officially started. There were lots of activities organized which we were obliged to attend, in order o get to know the University, the lecture theatres etc. There were also voluntary activities, which needed to be paid, such as a Waterpark, a city tour, shopping malls etc. The university put a lot of effort to make us feel at home, and get to know the other exchange students. There were also some welcome parties. How was accommodation organized? Does the university provide you with accommodation? What kind of accommodation does the university provide? Did you have to book your accommodation in advance or did you have to search for a place to live after you arrived? The University provides the students with accommodation. There are 5 colleges in which you can be situated. The problem with this though, is that it s relatively expensive (400 dollar a week), and you have to apply for it really early in order to get a spot. When you choose for a private shared house, you can search for it already while being in the Netherlands, and arrange some meetings after arriving. It can be advised to arrive one week earlier though, and look for accommodation from your hostel, just to be safe. It is relatively easy to find a private house, and the prices are lower. I personally paid 200 dollars a week, but you can get a room from 120 on already.

2 TOPIC: Location of university/city Please describe the city you lived in. Where is the university located in the city? What is the best place to go to eat/drink/dance/do sports/etc.? What are interesting things to see and do in your host city? What was different than in Tilburg? The University of Western Australia is situated in Perth, one of Australia s biggest cities. It is relatively new and small compared to cities such as Melbourne and Sydney though. It is a diverse, multicultural city, full with backpackers, students and working holiday people. You get to know tons of different cultures and nationalities, and the city has everything you need (beaches, nightclubs, cafes, malls etc.). The University is located next to the biggest people in the world, Kings Park, which is the city s biggest pride. It is located 10 minutes from the Central Business District, and 15 minutes from the beaches. The river is next to the campus, which offers you a beautiful place to study after and between classes. There are different places to club, and every day there s a different suburb where everyone goes to. If you want to meet a lot of international people, Northbridge is definitely the place to be in the weekends. When you want to meet more locals, you can better spend your nights in Subiaco on Wednesday, or Claremont on Thursdays. Every Tuesday there is a backpacker s night at the Hip-E Club in Leederville, where you get a free meal and a free drink, and where you can meet a lot of exchange students. Fremantle, the old part of the city is definitely something you have to visit while being there, and definitely make sure to check the Cottlestoe and Scarborough beach during sunrise. TOPIC: Academics Which courses did you take? I took the following courses at UWA: - International Commercial Law - Crime and Society - Evolution of Human Rights - Australian Legal Principles Which courses would you recommend? I would definitely recommend the Australian Legal Principles course. The teachers are very strict, and this is the course which requires the most effort, but it is definitely worth doing for a law student. You get to know a whole different law system, compared to the European Law, and the way in which it is taught really challenges you, and introduces you to the Australian History. It really adds a lot to the whole experience of an exchange in Australia. What did the courses add to your program at Tilburg University? It taught me a whole different approach to the law system, since Australia is using the common law

3 system, while the Netherlands use the civil law system. Since in the Netherlands Rechtsgeleerdheid consists of only Dutch Students, working in an international environment with students all over the world, it teaches you a whole different approach to team work and the act of studying. How does the university compare to Tilburg University concerning the level of the courses, use of extra material, level of English, workload, etc.? The level of courses and workload is comparable to the courses in the Netherlands. The only thing that made it harder was the constant use of English, and the translation of legal terms in English. It is an English speaking country, so the level of English is extremely high, especially for students from a mostly Dutch course. The students are more engaged in the tutorials though, since every time a little presentation had to be given in every course. This is not the case in my courses in the Netherlands. Overall, were you happy with your academic achievements during your exchange? I finished all my courses with a distinction, and an average that is higher than the one I had in the Netherlands. All my papers were at least graded on 80% and my theses is still in the process of being published. I can therefore state, that overall, I am happy with the academic achievements from this exchange. Please describe the campus of your host university The UWA campus is absolutely stunning, and it is really and once in a lifetime experience to study there. It takes at least 20 minutes to walk from one part of the campus to the other, and it is a great mixture of old beautiful building, and modern architecture. It is located in a great area right next to the river, and the river is on walking distance from every building. TOPIC Social life Which social activities organized by the university or students? The University itself did not organize a lot of activities. The most activities were organized by student organizations such as `Leisure` and `Perth International`. There were mostly parties, pub-crawls, and quizzes. A lot of activities were also organized by the colleges where the people slept in. Did you have contact with local students? Did you have contact with other exchange students? How did you get along with the local students and other exchange students? During the first welcome party, I met a Dutch guy, who has lived in Australia all his life, and we became pretty close friends. Through him I got invited to a lot of parties at his house, where I met a lot of local people. Otherwise I would have mostly spent my time with other exchange students, since the tutorials and lectures, and the most parties at the University were full with exchange students.

4 I could get along pretty well with everyone, all though there were some difficulties because of the different cultures and nationalities. Especially with the Italian and French people, since I could not understand their English most of the time, because of the accent. Did you travel to other places/countries during your exchange? During the Easter Break I flew to Hong Kong, because of the mandatory study trip which was part of Outreaching. During the weekends we visited a lot of national parks and places along the West Coast such as Margaret River, Serpentine Falls etc. In the end of my exchange period, I travelled the East Coast for 3 weeks, from Sydney to Cairns, and ended my trip with a 2 week holiday in Bali. TOPIC: Living costs How did you finance your exchange period, apart from the grant you received from Tilburg University? I financed my exchange period with the normal DUO grant, my savings, and some help from my parents. Everything in Australia is extremely expensive, and you can expect your expenses to be 3 times as high as they would have been in Tilburg. What were your living expenses abroad like compared to Tilburg? What did you spend most of your money on? What would you advice future students to spend their money on? My expenses are like stated before, much higher than they would have been in Tilburg. I spent 800 dollars a month for rent, 200 dollar a month for food and drinks, and around 200 dollar a month for parties. I would advise future students to pre drink at home, and get into clubs before 10. The entrance fee is than limited, but the drinks will be still horribly expensive (8 dollar a beer). By staying in a shared house instead of the colleges you can save money for travelling, instead of overpaying rent, and the best thing is to get vegetables and fruits at the Subiaco markets in the weekends, cook for yourself, and buy food in the specials from Coles and Woolworths. TOPIC: Culture Did you experience culture shock while on exchange? How would you compare your host culture to your own culture? What did you learn about your own culture while on exchange? What was different about your host culture than you expected? What did you like and not like about your host culture? Do you feel you learned a lot about your host culture, and if not, what would you like to learn more? How would you describe your host countries culture? If you travelled to other cities/countries during your exchange, were they different than your host city/country, and how? I cannot say that I really experienced a culture shock, since Australia is a western country with a lot of European influences. After spending 6 months there, it definitely feels like a second home. The fact that the people are way more friendly and welcoming helps this process. I was invited to a lot of parties, and introduced to all their friends.

5 The thing that I could not really adapt to myself was the whole laid-back culture. It is great to experience, but when you really want to get things done, it can be really stressful. I had a lot of open book exams for example, with no pre-scribed textbooks. Whenever approaching a teacher about this issue, the answer was always No worries, everything will be fine. Since I am not used to such an approach, I had some issues to deal with this. The differences within Australia are huge too. The east coast is way more chilled and laid back than the west coast. In the west coast people are more keen to achieve things, while the east coast is mostly about the chilled surfers style. At the east coast I could also experience the real Aboriginal culture, by going on an Aboriginal camp. The influences of the Aboriginal culture are still visible and remarkable everywhere around Australia, so experiencing that part of the country s history really added to the real culture experience too. TOPIC: Personal Development What did you learn from the people you met during your exchange? Would you do things differently if you had the chance and what would you do differently? What was your best experience, and what was your worst experience? What will you remember forever about your exchange period? What was the most important lesson you learned about yourself during your exchange period? The change you go through during an exchange is amazing. You learn to deal with all the problems yourself, rely on yourself, and solve problems in a creative way. By getting to know a lot of people from different countries, and encountering their ways of viewing life, you really get to know yourself, and what is important in life. You will definitely learn to value life, and what you have in life more and you will be more open and understanding to other people. You will learn to interact with everyone and not to judge before speaking to someone. Australians teach you the small talk, and sometimes you end up finding friends for life at a bus stop (happened to me haha!). You will definitely become more confident and interested in the world and people around you and these small changes eventually define you in life. The people I met, and the places I visited, I will treasure for life, and Australia with its people will definitely be as a second home for me. If I could go back, and do it all over again, I am 100 % sure I would not change a thing. TOPIC: Tips for future students would you recommend an exchange period? Would you recommend your host university? What should prospective students bring with them/leave behind? What preparation is required for going on exchange to this destination? Was there anything you should have done in preparation that you didn t do? An exchange is something that you will never forget, ever in your life, and I can say that this was literally the best time of my life. Getting out of your comfort zone, encountering new things, experiencing new problems that you have to deal with by yourself, is definitely something that

6 changes you for life, in a positive way. Every exchange has it s ups and downs, but the positive things definitely outweigh the negative ones. The University of Western Australia can be definitely recommended, and it definitely makes your exchange period complete. It is a beautiful campus, and the education level is excellent. The same counts for the facilities. By studying there, you get also enough travel opportunities, that make you encounter the real Australian way of living, and makes your experience unforgettable! TOPIC Pictures Swan River Perth

7 Mexicana University Party Cottlestoe Beach

8 Rottnest Island Lancelin Sand dunes

9 International Party Serpentine Falls

10 Kings Park View Sydney Opera House

11 Bleu Mountains Rainbow Beach

12 Champagne Rocks Fraser Islands Great Barrier Reef

13 Rainforrest Cairns Farewell Party

14 UWA Winthropp Hall (Graduation Building)

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