My Australian Experience

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.

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For more information on RI exchange opportunities visit our new website!

For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange see our blog post!

My Adventure Abroad: Life Down Under

By Julia Amodeo, Undergraduate student in the Creative Industries Program, Faculty of Communication and Design

3 months ago I left Canada for my semester abroad in Brisbane: the largest city on Australia’s east coast! It was my first time travelling alone and I was excited and terrified. Once I landed, met my roommates and learned more about Brisbane, I was thrilled to spend the semester here. So far my journey in Australia has been the most amazing experience of my life and I am only half way through! I have learned so much about myself and met so many amazing people from all over the world!

New Zealand Trip: Franz Josef, Milford Sound & Queenstown.

When I first arrived, I flew to New Zealand to travel the South Island before I started classes. I backpacked along the coast for 17 days.  We went on hikes, discovered incredible lookouts, and learned about the culture. It was a beautiful country.

One of the most unforgettable experiences in New Zealand was the Heli-Hike I did to the Franz Josef Glacier. We took a helicopter ride up to the glacier and went on a 3-hour hike. We climbed through the glaciers, ice caves, and tunnels. The view was stunning. It was definitely one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had!

I arrived back in Brisbane happy to be in warm weather again. I was surprised with how quickly I fell in love with the city. After walking along the river and discovering all parts of the city, I was so excited that this was the place I would call home for the next 6 months. Right away I noticed that the people were very friendly and welcoming. I also noticed how clean, modern and unique the city was from what I’ve experienced. The weather is constantly sunny and the lifestyle is a lot more laid back than what I was used to in Toronto.

I have been studying Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology. The campus is really beautiful and I love my classes so far. They have given me a lot of opportunities to get directly involved in Brisbane’s music and entertainment scene.

Brisbane: Koala Pine Sanctuary, South Bank & Gold Coast.

South bank is one of my favourite parts of Brisbane. It is across the river from the downtown core. It has great restaurants, markets, shops, museums, and stunning walkways along the river. The Streets Beach is one of the main areas we spend our time. It is a man-made beach lagoon overlooking the city and is only a short walk from campus! Another highlight of my time in Brisbane has been the Koala Pine Sanctuary, where I got the chance to hold a koala and feed kangaroos!

About an hour away from Brisbane is the coast! We visit the gold coast often on the weekends to enjoy the restaurants, bars, shopping and beautiful beaches.

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend surfing as a member of the QUT Surf Club in Byron Bay (2 hours from Brisbane).

We had surfing lessons for 2 days, explored the town, kayaked with dolphins, and went on a hike to Byron light house. Surfing was an incredible experience. Everybody in my group picked it up by the second day, learning to stand up and ride the waves!

I can’t wait to explore more of Australia in the next few months. My exchange experience has exposed me to so much and I could not be happier living and studying here. It has been important for me to make the most of my exchange by trying and experiencing new things. I can’t wait to bring what I have learned back to Ryerson for my final year before graduation. For anybody considering exchange, I highly recommend it. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself!

And if you ever travel to Australia – get ready for slang you’ve never heard & don’t get too scared by the snakes and spiders!

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For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange, click here.