By Erika Nonis, Undergraduate Student in the Creative Industries program, Faculty of Communication & Design
Feels like just yesterday I was just lugging my suitcases to the airport to begin the journey of a lifetime. The Ryerson International exchange program opened the opportunity for me to go to Brisbane, Australia. I found a student apartment with a 6-month lease, and spent an 2 extra months in Australia prior to the start of the semester. This allowed me to extend my experience in the amazing country and really immerse myself into the lifestyle and culture.
I am so grateful to have spent my exchange in Brisbane, as it is a big enough city to have plenty to see and do, but it is not overwhelming. The city is very new, clean and well designed. There are lots of restaurants, shops, museums and clubs. I stayed in the Iglu Student Accommodation in the heart of the city, which was great because I could walk everywhere. I was 5 minutes from the main mall, bus station and 5 minutes from the botanical gardens. While in Brisbane I attended Queensland University of Technology for the creative industries program. One of the big differences I noticed with the program is it was much better known. They had their own faculty, a wide selection of classes to chose from and people I met actually knew about the program. The professors were great, and the classes I took were not extremely challenging which allowed me to get high marks while being able to enjoy my time there. While at the university I became a global ambassador which allowed me to help out at the exchange office and promote Ryerson University to future exchange students. This was a great opportunity to be involved in the university community, while making friends and encouraging people to come visit Toronto.
Some of my favourite memories of Brisbane are in south bank at the urban beach, or in the valley which was the neighbourhood with an interesting nightlife. I also loved that all the museums were free and they had some great art museums.
Australia is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries I have ever been to as it ranges from beautiful beaches to deserts. I was very fortunate and was able to explore much of the country. I traveled to go to Sydney, Melbourne, Airlie Beach and the Outback. The best experience for me was being able to ride a camel at sunrise in the middle of the desert. It was such a surreal and different experience. I was also able to do a few road trips with friends I made and visited Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Noosa and Fraser Island. All of which were just a short drive away from Brisbane.
I was also very fortunate to have extra time prior to beginning school to visit New Zealand. I loved it so much I ended up going twice. The first time I did a Kiwi Experience bus tour of South Island, which was an incredible 17 day trip where I saw many cities and had many memorable experiences while travelling with people my age. I ended up meeting a great group of Canadian girls who stayed with me for most of the tour. The second time I went, I rented a car and drove around the North Island. North Island was beautiful as there is such an interesting culture and I learned so much about the Maori people. I also was able to have surreal experiences, such as skydiving, bungee jumping and shooting guns. New Zealand is the land of thrills, adventure and beautiful scenery and I loved every minute I spent there.
My exchange was a life changing experience and I miss it every day. I also miss all the friends I met along the way and I hope to cross paths with them again soon. I would recommend to everyone to jump on the chance if they can go, as it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.