Study Abroad and Exchange Uni Life

My semester abroad in Australia

Panorama view of the beach with blue and white tent in the foreground

Suddenly after an amazing semester, my final couple of weeks in the Gold Coast were approaching and it was time to make the most of the limited time I had left.

The last two weeks were filled with sharing farewells and friendly visits, making plans for traveling, and making plans for my return to Canada (where to live, when to graduate, and what I want to do after graduation).

My exchange semester at Griffith University has come to a close. While briefly reflecting during preparations for my next adventure, it is incredible to think of all the amazing people I met, the new experiences I had, and everything I have learned. 

The international student population was largely split between living on campus and living in Surfer’s Paradise. Living in Surfer’s Paradise, I learned a lot about Australian culture as well as a lot about Scandinavian and other European cultures due to my social circle and the people I surrounded myself with.

The exchange student population this semester was largely European, with a small portion of us from North America. I was the only person from the West Coast (of Canada).

Breakfast in the foreground with view of the Gold Coast to the mountains in the background.

Another day, another delicious breakfast on the balcony 🙂

Although I missed the comfort of connecting with the familiarity of meeting those from a similar culture, this instead allowed me ample opportunity to stretch my cultural horizons and meet many more people from different global backgrounds, providing insight and perspective into the ways we see the world.

Exploring these differences is interesting, but it is also quite beautiful to notice despite these unique differences that there is so much more shared in common and it is extraordinary sometimes to see how quickly incredible connections are formed with others globally.

Something that I’ve learned while on exchange is that the people we meet have a huge impact and help create the experience we have while traveling and living in another part of the world. Sharing this exchange semester with amazing people from various backgrounds around the world has been incredible. I am thankful for all the amazing people I’ve met during my 4 months in Australia and who’ve made a positive impact upon my experience here.

During these 4 months I’ve had the time to foster some amazing connections, and with all of us leaving so soon I will sincerely miss the people I’ve met. However, this is not goodbye, but see you soon, and I look forward to connecting again some day in the future. Sharing farewells can be difficult as after 4 months you’ve established new roots in a community and it is time to uproot again, a time to create a new community and way of life each day.

With the amazing people we’ve met it can be hard to determine when you will see your new friends again (especially if you live nearly 7700km away from most 😉), if life follows naturally and we continue to pursue our interests and feelings of fulfillment, it is very likely we will connect again with the amazing people who’ve impacted us.

Purple clouds behind Q1 on the Gold Coast

For a few weeks there were several thunderstorms, and there was even a unique electrical storm that could be seen from our apartments and the beach! These storms were incredible and a great sight to behold.

Final Reflections

During this semester I visited some of the most magical beaches, learned how to catch a wave, dove 30m to a shipwreck, jumped out of a plane 14,000 feet above the ground, explored new cities, food, and wildlife (dingoes, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, spiders, and sea snakes), and I’ve had some crazy nights. Along the way I’ve met some of the most incredible people who I’ve connected with and have helped create my exchange semester to be one of my best and most interesting semesters to date. A truly unforgettable experience, and memories that will last a life time!

4WD stuck in soft sand on Fraser Island - Ricky and friends stand by as strangers help dig them out.

It was also a new experience to drive on the beach and there were essentially beach highways where drivers would drive nearly 100km/h! Wrapping our trip up, it was time to catch the ferry and we were on our way back, when suddenly… we got stuck in the sand! We were under a huge time pressure, and tried several times. When things were looking bad, help arrived! Another vehicle came with a rope, which could tow us out of the sand; we were free and made it to the ferry!

I am now ending my journey in Australia, but am already making plans to visit this country again some day in the future, as well as visiting the amazing people I’ve met and adventuring with them once again!

I’ve made travel plans for the far (hopefully sooner) future, and my experience while on exchange has only reinforced my interests as I eagerly anticipate the time when I can travel again. (Travel plans for the future: Europe –> Middle East –> India –> Australia –> Indonesia + Southeast Asia –> China + Japan + Korea.)

For the meantime, I am on my way to New Zealand and have decided to make a booking with KiwiExperience. Time to spend a month of adventure in New Zealand, here I go!! 😀

Ricky is held up by group of friends at end of semester party.

End of semester party.

– Ricky

This blog is republished with permission from Ricky and our friends at The University of Victoria (Canada) – thanks guys! You can read Ricky’s other blogs and stories from UVic students at MyUVic Life.


The final few weeks and conclusion to an exchange semester in Australia

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