Application & course selection
The application on MicroEDU ran super easy. Sabine was available to answer any questions and I thought it was great that you always sent all documents to MicroEDU first, where they were then checked for completeness and only then passed on to the UoN abroad. So I was always sure that I had really thought of everything. In the end, the process went really quickly and I was accepted after just a few weeks. Before I could actually choose courses, I had to look for courses that I would like to take from the course catalog. I communicated these to Sabine and she then discussed with the university whether it would be possible for me to take these courses. While still in Germany, I dealt with online course registration, which initially seemed a bit complicated, because you had to register for a lecture and a tutorial for every course. After a bit of back and forth it worked and then it started in Australia. The semester there started in February, so I left here in Germany right after the end of the semester and got there just in time for the O phase. It was great that there was an orientation event for international students so that you could make initial contacts. A first outing was also organized for all international students. When you choose your course had not yet finished, you could go to the International Office at any time during the O-phase week, where an employee took a lot of time and went through my course selection with me again. I even changed my mind there and took two other courses. You can take a total of 40 units there, which resulted in 4 courses for me. The great thing is that I can get credit for all courses for my primary school teaching degree with the main subjects English and history at my home university.
The University of Newcastle is located in the Callaghan area of Newcastle. This is about 12 km from the beach and downtown Newcastle. The campus is huge! When I walked from one side of the campus to the other, it was about 15 minutes! The campus is very nicely prepared and since it was built on what used to be bush land, there is still a lot of meadow, bush and trees between the buildings. The UoN is quite well integrated into the transport system, because it has its own train station and several bus stops on campus. There are many different courses to choose from at the University of Newcastle. There is the Faculty of Business and Law, the Faculty of Education and Arts, the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, the Faculty of Health and Medicine, the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and the Faculty of English Language and Foundation Studies. I took courses from different faculties and felt very comfortable everywhere. The professors’ dealings with the students were much more personal than in Germany, and the professors were there for you with every question. For example, I had some difficulties with a project about what we should do as a thesis for a course. After an email to the professor, she met me directly and helped me with the task. So I felt really well supported there! In terms of workload, I definitely had a lot more to do at the university in Australia than at the university in Karlsruhe. For each course I had to do around 5 assignments during the semester, which in my courses mostly resulted in writing essays. But when you have finished the first two or three essays, writing is a lot easier.
According to abbreviationfinder, University of Newcastle is short for UoN. It was possible to live on the UoN campus or to look for a room in an apartment or a house in the city. There are many websites that advertise vacant rooms. You could also contact the UoN, which arranged some rooms in the city. But since I was only able to fly to Australia shortly before the start of the semester, I decided on a room in the dormitory on campus. So I could be sure that I had a room and didn’t have to look for a suitable room on site. You could apply online about three months before the start of the semester. There was a wide range of housing options. For example, there are separate apartments and there are rooms in houses where you have to share the bathroom and kitchen with a large number of people. The apartments were very expensive, while a room where you shared the kitchen and bathroom with many people was around $ 180 a week. I chose a house that shared the bathroom with five people and the kitchen with ten people. I paid $ 250 a week for this. Everything was included in the rent, even a daily dinner. Even so, the rents for a room on campus are higher than for a room in the city. So if you want to save money, plan some time and look for a room in the city. Of course, if you live on campus, you never have to go far to get to the lectures. But if you wanted to go to town or to the beach, you had to plan a 30-40 minute bus ride. Of course, if you live in the city, you are not far from the beach, but you have to plan extra time for the drive to the university. What I sometimes found negative was that you always had to take a bus from university to get to the nearest supermarket. Ultimately, however, I am very happy that I lived on campus. My roommates were Australians and international students like me and we really got on really well and did a lot together!
I only had university from Monday to Thursday, so I always had a long weekend. I’ve done a lot with other international students from the dormitory, exploring Newcastle and the surrounding area. There are so many beautiful beaches that I really enjoyed most in Newcastle! I spent almost every Friday afternoon at Nobby’s Beach, the most famous beach in Newcastle. We took surf lessons, went swimming a lot and enjoyed the sun. Even in bad weather there was a lot to do, there were a few art galleries, smaller markets, museums and cute cafes and restaurants to explore.
Many events such as parties or smaller excursions were always organized from the dormitory. Since train travel is really cheap in Australia, we often took the train to Sydney for a day or two. It took about 3 hours to get from the UoN to Central Station in Sydney, and depending on the time of day, you only paid a maximum of $ 8.
At the beginning of the semester you had the opportunity to join the university’s clubs. These clubs have also organized regular events so that you could get to know the area and the city in your free time, for example through hiking tours or diving courses. One downside, however, was that you had to pay fees to join some clubs.
In April we had two weeks of Easter break, which of course was a great opportunity for all international students to travel. With my savings, I made it possible for myself to tour the east coast from Newcastle. If you look for flights in good time, there are often cheap offers. But bus companies are also recommended for traveling from city to city. Accommodation like hostels was very cheap in my opinion, if you took some time to find the cheapest offer.
A disadvantage was the rather high cost. The tuition fees were really expensive and I also had to pay a lot of money for living. But if you pay attention, you can live quite cheaply in Australia. Since dinner was always included in my rent, I didn’t need too much groceries. If you go shopping at Aldi, you save a lot of money! The Woolworths supermarket has more choices, but is really expensive. Going out is also expensive compared to Germany, but if you watch your money, you can do it every now and then. I can only recommend yourself in advance about scholarships and explore grants offered by the home university. I applied for funding at my home university and got it, which really helped me financially. It is also best if you have savings. If you don’t have enough money, you can also look for a job in Australia. Some of my friends have worked in cafes. Nevertheless, the semester abroad in Newcastle was really great and I am very happy that I did it! I would recommend to everyone to do a semester abroad!