Christopher Rhodes - UK
For Environmental Science student Christopher Rhodes studying in Australia has been an “uplifting and inspiring” experience. “It opens your eyes to the world,“ he says. “I’ve never met so many people from such different places – Brazil, Canada, America, Asia.”
Institution: The University of Wollongong (UOW)
Location: Wollongong, New South Wales
Christopher, who has plans to become a hydrologist, admits that while Australia wasn’t his first choice when he was casting about for somewhere to do a year’s study abroad, it came to the forefront the more he researched the subjects he wanted to do and the lifestyle he wanted to lead.
“I knew I didn't want to go to a big city university,” he says. “I had been at the University of East Anglia and really enjoyed the campus. The University of Wollongong was similar and offered modules that weren't available at East Anglia, such as coastal studies, water management, and Geographic information Systems (GIS).”
That UOW is just a 15-minute walk from the beach was another positive. “It’s such a different culture, such a different way of life, and the weather is unbelievable - the bright blue skies and the sun are not hard to get used to,” he laughs.
When asked the main difference between his UK university and UOW, he points to the stress-free atmosphere in classrooms and the emphasis on continual assessment rather than academic exams. “It’s more relaxed, more about developing you as a person,” he says.
Christopher says that while he wanted to experience a different culture and lifestyle and build on his employability and life skills, he was skeptical about the impact Australia would have on him.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and accepting people are,” he says.
“On one of my first mornings, I was invited to a gathering. There are just so many extra things, so many social things to go to. You are not shut off in your own little bubble.”
For anyone contemplating a study abroad stint in Australia, his advice is the grab the opportunity with both hands.
“Don’t be scared or worried about being away from home”, he says.
“To be able to live in Australia, whilst having a university to help you with any problems is - excuse the cliché - a once in a lifetime opportunity.”