Now I am for about a month back in Germany after I have a few wonderful months in beautiful Australia was allowed to spend. Since the experience reports were of great help to me in my decision about which country and which university should be the right choice for my semester abroad, I hope that I will give some valuable information on the way with my experiences can give.
First of all, I would like to thank you very much for the support from MicroEDU. You could ask the helpful staff any question, no matter how small, and you always received valuable help in this regard very quickly. The application process and communication with the foreign university was super uncomplicated through MicroEDU. Nevertheless, such a semester abroad is associated with some organizational effort, which is why you should start planning this early. I contacted MicroEDU about 9 months before the start of my semester abroad and then decided on a university relatively quickly.
The next thing I did was to apply for BAföG abroad. You shouldn’t wait for this, as the processing time can be a long time and endless amounts of information and documents are requested from the BAföG office. Since life and tuition fees can be very expensive, I applied for a student loan from the KFW for further financing and applied for a PROMOS scholarship. With the student loan, there can sometimes be longer processing times, so you should also inquire about it here early. The flights have ISTA Travelbooked. Here there was the possibility to make a one-time free rebooking for an extra charge of 15 €, so you don’t have to forego the flexibility regarding the return flight and can still bypass the expensive one-way ticket.
When transferring the tuition fees, you should keep an eye on the exchange rate, as the exchange rate differences will of course make a difference with such high amounts. However, after you have transferred the tuition fees, you will receive your Certificate of Enrollment, with which you can apply for your student visa and you can register for the courses. When applying for a visa, the following applies: It is better to do it early to avoid unnecessary stress. While most students got it through within a few days, some waited several weeks for it.
I traveled to Australia with a friend and after we landed in Brisbane, the transfer organized by the university picked us up from the airport and brought us to our accommodation for the first few days. Here we opted for an Airbnb in Surfers Paradise because we wanted a little more peace and comfort after the long journey. In the following days we started looking for an apartment. The search was initially designed in such a way that we responded to advertisements on Flatmates and Gumtree. At the same time, however, we also asked reception at the large building complexes and hotels in Surfers Paradise whether apartments would be rented for a longer period of time. Here it was often the case that the minimum rental period of 6 months was a prerequisite for a rental agreement. This was also the case when looking for apartments through a realtor. After about 4 days, however, we were successful and were allowed to move into a beautiful apartment right on the beach for 4 months. We paid 595 AUD per week for the entire apartment and four of us lived in it, so that 2 people each shared a bedroom and bathroom.
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Surfers Paradise is a bit away from the university, but the TRAM connection from here was very good, so that you could reach the university in 20 minutes without changing trains every seven minutes. In general, TRAM driving was also very cheap, especially with the student discount that you could activate online with your student ID. Accordingly, buying a car was not necessary for our semester abroad. The Gold Coast has a very good TRAM connection from Southport to Broadbeach. The rest of the Gold Coast is very cheap to get to by bus. You have to be careful here, however, as the individual stops are neither displayed nor announced. When you get on, it is best to let the bus driver know where you want to get off so that you don’t miss your stop.
For the cell phone tariff, I opted for an amaysim SIM card. This was recommended to us on the first evening by the very friendly and helpful Australians at 7eleven. Here I had a tariff with 1.5 GB of data volume and a few free SMS and free minutes for AUD 25 per month. The connection in the cities was usually very good. However, this does not apply to the WLAN. We signed a contract with dodo and paid a lot of money for our WiFi in our apartment and very often had a bad connection. We were told that this probably applies to the entire Gold Coast and that it is due to the lack of fiber optic infrastructure. But this should improve by the time of the Commonwealth Games.
I didn’t need an Australian bank account. I only got along well with the credit card, since our landlady was also fine with cash payments. I had a Mastercard from fluege.de and was very satisfied with it, because you could withdraw money free of charge worldwide and here the credit limit was higher than with the Visa card from the DKB. This was an advantage, for example, when large amounts had to be withdrawn, such as for the deposit. Financially, you have to reckon with around 1500 € per month for housing, food and leisure.
As far as partying is concerned, you will certainly be approached by wicked in the first few days, who want to offer you party passes for your entire study time for 100 AUD, with which you get free entry and drink specials in the clubs. Please do not decide in favor of it, but wait for the O week at the university, there you can get member cards for all clubs that contain exactly that. I would also recommend you to get an annual pass for the viewing platform of the Q1. This is only 10 AUD more expensive than the normal ticket and you can enjoy the beautiful view more often and at different times of the day and weather conditions.