Study in Australia: The Top Five Things You Need To Know

By  Natalia Cartney April 19, 2012

... if you weren't really planning on studying.

When choosing whether or not to complete your studies in beautiful Australia, here are some “serious” things to consider:

Are you there to surf?

Several cities have good breaks right in the city, Sydney and Brisbane included. You can usually get lessons on some of the more touristy beaches and rent a board by the hour.

If you decide you love it, consider renting a place a walk away from the ocean, and buying a board - a professional fibreglass one glides like a dream on water, but most people like to start with the cheaper, plastic boards that make it easier to stand. Natives usually start on long boards, which are easier to stand on, and leave the short boards to the experts.When you’re ready, you’ll find some monster waves off the coast of Perth, the kind that can be reached only by jet-ski. The island in the south, Tasmania, also has some wicked spots, if you're willing to drive to get there. Be forewarned, the island faces Antarctica, so bring a wetsuit.

Are you there to soak up the atmosphere, cold one in hand?

The classic Paul Hogan "throw a shrimp on the barbie" mentality is still going strong, best served with a cold one (a 'cold one' being beer, for the uninitiated). The old beers, the likes of Fosters, XXXX ("four-ex") and Carton Draft, come on tap, but small boutique breweries are the flavour of the decade. A popular one is Little Creatures, from Freemantle, brewed in an old alligator farm - don't worry, the taste of reptile is barely noticeable.  If your cold one happens to be a glass of white wine, feel assured there are major wine producing regions in all the cooler states, with the Barossa, Hunter and Yarra Vally right outside capital cities.

Are you there to get a tan?

Australia has more sunshine than it knows what to do with. Being a country of coastlines, it's possible to drive to a secluded beach within an hour out of most state capitals. Just know, it also has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Going to the beach "to get a tan" is largely considered insane and the domain of vacationing tourists. Due to the hole in the ozone layer, direct sun is avoided between the hours of 11 – 2pm during the summer season.

Are you there to learn English?

Australian English is British English with a twang. If someone tells you to get your cozzies and your sunnies, grab your swimming costume and your sun glasses. Don’t be alarmed if someone asks you to call a 'sparkie' (an electrician) on your way to the 'bottlo' (bottle shop) as you pick up an 'esky' (cooler) at the 'servo' (service station). You’ll be fine. Oh, and those thongs we're always talking about, are just flip-flops. Don’t worry, we're just a relaxed bunch, and the original words were a little long.

Are you there to get a multinational experience and education?

Following sheep, coal and tourism, education is one of Australia's top 5 exports. Universities have up to 25% international students, largely from Asia, but a significant number also come from the US and Europe.

It's not well-known, but food is incredibly international even at the student level, giving you the ability to get to know the difference between a chicken pad thai and a kerela masala in no time. Sushi counts as take away food, and coffee is as much of an art as a national addiction.

The overwhelming theme is laid back, with different scenes being stronger in different cities. Sydney with its spotlight Opera house and Harbour Bridge is the most glitzy city by far. Melbourne remains more
about the arts, music, theatre and cuisine. And Canberra, the capital, is a "the Prime Minister drinks at my local cafe" kind of place.

Relax, enjoy and remember the two main tourist crimes: tight fitting Speedos, and socks and sandals on any occasion.

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