Anne-Joëlle in Australia

Field of study in Wageningen: Forest and Nature Conservation
Study period exchange: 04/03/2019 until 14/06/2019
Country (exchange): Australia
City (exchange): Melbourne
University (exchange): Deakin University
Faculty (exchange): Science, Engineering and Built Environment

2. Motivation for exchange

Why did you choose to go on study exchange?

I can learn things abroad from a context that applies to that country. This offers great insights and helps me to develop my own understand of the course material from my studies in Wageningen.

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

Australia is a very unique country because prior to the arrival of European settlers the country was inhabited by what we nowadays know as Aboriginals & Torres Strait Islanders. Melbourne is a very culturally diverse city. Both aspects have a big influence on the land and water management in the state Victoria. I especially wanted to learn more about Indigenous engagement in natural resource management and that is exactly what I got to learn at Deakin University.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

Take either the Skybus from Mealbourne Tullamarine airport to the Southern Cross Station and change to tram 70 to Wattle Park (get off at the final stop) or tram 75 to Vermont South (get of at stop 62 or 63). In order to be able to make use of the busses and trams in Melbourne you will need to have a Myki card or the Myki app installed on your phone. You can get a Myki at a kios in the  Southern Cross Station and in about every convenience store. For more information on how to get around in Melbourne with public transport please visit: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

How is the study formalized?

Courses are called “units” at Deakin University. Weekly lectures, and a special emphasis on the writing of reports. The reports can be either the product of group work or of your individual efforts. At Deakin most units have online “quizzes” (little exams) or written exams that take about 50min. throughout the trimester. This, in combination with the reports often results in the absence of any final exams in the end of the trimester. Study material is easily accessible on the online learning environment and easy to read. Workload depends on the unit. If it is an online unit the workload is low. Units for which you have to go to the classroom take more time. Every unit makes use of lots of pracs (practicals) and field trips. At Deakin the emphasis lies on the field in which both practice and theory come together.

What is the culture of the university?

Lecturers emphasis during every lecture that you are very welcome to ask them questions about anything. If you happen to have a very big question they will even arrange a meeting. As opposed to WUR the teachers are more easily approachable. It feels at Deakin more like lecturers are your “equal” and that they want to do everything that lies within their powers to help you develop yourself academically.

Students are very easy to approach. As long as you are your happy self and show interest in them they are absolutely willing to have a conversation and get to know each other better.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

I did not get the chance to live on campus. Instead I lived at International House. During the summer you can go for a little swim in the pool. We also have access to a gym, billiard and BBQ area. In the billiard area we also use to hang out when we are throwing parties in honour of our birthdays, graduation, national holidays et cetera. International House also has a study area. If you bring your own paper and install a program on your laptop/computer, you can print things for free. Finally, laundry costs 4 AUD for the washing and 3 AUD for the drying. Yet it is very easy to just hang your clothes to dry outside so the drying will not always be necessary.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

You can live either on campus, private, or at International House. Especially on campus accommodation is assigned to students very quickly. If you want to live on campus you have to make sure you apply a long time in advance. You can also look for private rooms upon your arrival. If you do that make sure you’ve got an Australian phone number and arrive two weeks prior to the commencement of your units.

What is the culture of the country like?

Life in Australia is very “easy”. If things are hard most Australians simply do not go into further detail to it. As opposed to the Netherland, self-dependence/independence is not a (big) thing. Your “mates” are here to help you and so are the lecturers and unit chairs. Just ask them if there is anything you would like to know.

Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?

I do not live in Wageningen, but in Australia rent is close to 250-300 AUD per week. In Australia housing is based on weekly rates.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

Many students use PTV (public transport Victoria) or Uber to get around. I also used my bike. At uni there is a park and a creek. Can be very refreshing to go there for a walk in your break.

6. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

  • Little Penguin Colony at St Kilda Pier
  • Wine tasting in the Yarra Valley
  • A footy game (Melbourne is THE HUB of sports in Australia)
  • The CBD (Central Business District)
  • The free tram in the CBD and the touristy things you can do at the stops (e.g. Melbourne Museum which is for free if you have a student ID from Deakin and the Sky & Observation Deck)
  • The NGV (National Gallery of Arts; there are two and they are for free) in which you can see local (from Indigneous People) and international art
  • The botanical gardens
  • Phillip Island
  • Brighton Bathing Boxes
  • Rooftop bars (happy hours are mostly between 4-7pm)
  • Breakfast at a local breakfast place
  • Coffee shops because Melbourne is also the city with the most delicious and diverse coffees in Australia.

Take the tram or an Uber.

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

Little Penguin Colony at St Kilda Pier and 1000 steps (Kokoda Track Memorial Walk).

Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?

Join the Deakin Study Abroad Club & absolutely participate in the Beach Welcome Program! In the latter you will get to surf, do some beach yoga, get to know your lovely fellow international exchange students, and see some Australian wildlife such as cockatoos and koalas.

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

When it comes to leisure and especially clubbing, everything starts very early in Australia. People start to go to bars around 4-5pm. This also means that everything stops earlier. You have to look carefully if you want to go to a club that is open till later than 2am.

What was your best memory abroad?

Making new friends from all around the world and developing myself more on a personal and academic level.

8. Contact details

Would you like to ask Julia more questions about her exchange?
Send her a mail: anne-joelle.derksen@hotmail.com