Australian rules

Jess Lever
Thursday 02 April 2009 17:22

In the calm after the storm that was my first week of second year at the University of Birmingham, it began to dawn on me that my student experience wasn’t going to last for ever. I knew I had to do something about this quick!

I remembered that while I was applying to university I discovered courses that offered the chance to study abroad, and although the thought of a year experiencing a different culture enticed me I couldn’t find an appropriate degree topic that would encompass this dream, leading me to set my sights on Birmingham to study a joint-honours degree in English literature, media culture and society. During my first year I enquired about the possibility of studying abroad but was told that there would be no chance.

Not to be deterred I decided to set about emailing whoever I thought could help. I couldn’t believe my luck when I received an email back from my head of department saying I’d written at an “opportune moment” as he was thinking about the possibilities of incorporating a year abroad into my degree programme. The next few weeks involved a mixture of phone calls, emails and general badgering of the people at the top until they agreed I could go.

As it neared the end of the first term my dreams of studying abroad came closer to realisation as I was told it was time to start thinking about where I would like to go. Possibly influenced by the winter wonderland but more likely by the fact that it is where I was born, I turned my attentions to studying in Australia.

I knew I would be studying abroad with the Universitas 21 programme, a set of 21 universities situated across the world that engage in exchange programmes with each other. The Australian universities that were involved were situated in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland. Having being born in Adelaide and lived in Sydney as a young child I decided that I wanted to experience a new Australian city. I had visited Queensland when I was 15 and had quickly decided it was one of the coolest places I had ever been to. So, I decided to put this as my first choice and kept my fingers crossed.

Throughout the Christmas holidays I dreamt of spending the next festive season on the beach enjoying a barbeque instead of the traditional turkey. When I returned to university in January the day came when I was called into the international office to receive my verdict – and much to my surprise and delight I got the Queensland call!

Still in shock I quickly booked my flights with my friend Lydia – who will be studying in Adelaide – to leave on 14 July. Although the reality of leaving home for a year and missing a family wedding, my five-year anniversary with my boyfriend and my 21st birthday seems very daunting, I have no doubt that it will be one of the best experiences of my life. Therefore, for any other student sitting at their desk thinking this is something they’d like to experience, just ask; you never know what you might get!

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