Broadening Horizons

6 February 2019

In her latest Study Abroad Blog, Natalia discusses course choices at the University of Queensland and broadening her horizons on her year abroad.

natalia blog 2

It’s November in Brisbane, and the weather has turned decidedly humid. My backpack and handbag are each stocked with suncream, deodorant and a water bottle — essentials for a busy Brisbane girl like me! A month ago, I was swanning around the beaches of tropical Northern Queensland during my mid-semester break; I now find myself visiting the library much more often than I’ve been used to these past four months! Exam season is upon us, but luckily I only have two exams to prepare for, as the other two of my subjects were coursework-based during the semester (still finishing up on an Aboriginal heritage project, though!).


I’ve been very happy with my subject choices this semester. As a requirement for my study abroad, half of my options must be anthropology courses, and so I chose one called “Migration, Culture and Identity”, which involved a lot of class discussion about the cultural differences between the UK and Australia (this was a lot of fun, because it’s always nice to talk about myself(!) in an academic context, of course). My other Anthropology course was about Aboriginal heritage, and this was a very practical approach to anthropological methods. It was fascinating as an outsider to Australia, because I’d never learnt about Australia’s troubling history. We had guest speakers, museum visits, and a field trip to the Gold Coast as part of the course, too. The other courses I took were simply chosen because I was interested in them: an Introduction to Political Ideas (a political science class), and Human Settlements (an introductory human geography course). These have been very interesting, because although they are beginner courses, they’re subjects that I haven't studied before, so it was a great opportunity to learn outside of my Anthropology bubble. In Australia, many students do an ‘arts and sciences degree’, in which they choose subjects to major and minor in. This approach makes for a really broad university degree, and I think this year is my chance to get a similar broad educational experience.

Speaking of broadening one’s horizons, I have to talk about my fantastic semester break trip! My friend and I squeezed a two-week holiday into a one-week break by taking advantage of our Fridays off, and a bank holiday at the end of break. We flew up to Cairns in Northern Queensland, and took Greyhound coaches down the coast back to Brisbane. We combined the luxurious scenery of the Capricorn Coast with cheap hostels in the evenings to stay within our student budgets, and the trip was well worth it! Highlights included snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, swimming in rainforest pools, hiking up mountains to see wild koalas, sailing around the Whitsundays, and collecting a multitude of postcards to send to friends and family back home. It was perhaps the most spontaneous trip I’ve ever been on, as we planned our stops en route. I’m still so amazed that we visited such stunning locations (I had to buy an extra memory card for my camera on the way… too many beautiful photo opportunities!). 

The more I think about it, the more I think that Aussies live a jaded life! Imagine living next to some of the most exquisite scenery on Earth everyday! Having said that, I know I want to explore more of England when I go back, and I’ll be looking at it with new eyes, just like an Australian on exchange. My newfound appreciation for home can start this Christmas, when I go back for three weeks, just enough time to get some sightseeing done!

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, Australia

By Natalia Abell