Adjusting to Aussie Life

14 February 2020

"Hey, how you going?” - One of the many Aussie greeting phrases that I’m still not quite sure how to respond to. Eleanor is spending her year at the University of Queensland.


“Hey, how you going?” - One of the many Aussie greeting phrases that I’m still not quite sure how to respond to. It certainly reflects the friendly, informal nature of Aussie culture and lifestyle. As I attempt to navigate my way through to full assimilation after 12 weeks of experience, I have grown to love the laid-backness of life down under (a stark contrast to my uptight British character) by actively embracing its quirks and peculiarities.


University Life

Most year abroad students, including myself, find that course content is considerably less demanding than in the UK. Naturally, this is a perfect set up for module experimentation and extra-curricular exploration. While working hard is important, UK university culture often perpetuates a debilitating work ethic that simply isn’t needed as a year abroad student in Australia. So don’t spend too much time at your desk. Years abroad are about self-growth far beyond academic settings.


Social Life

It is no secret that Australia has a big drinking culture. Quite like the British, (and so not something I’ve found particularly hard adjusting to) Aussies love to party! However, It definitely takes a different form to the UK, and it is probably much more accessible and inclusive for non-drinkers as well. While there are some clubs in Brisbane, most drinking events are quite chilled- usually involving a few beers at a BBQ or at a relaxed bar. There are many opportunities to socialise with or without alcohol, especially when the sun is shining everyday. There really is something for everyone.


You may also find yourself having to adapt not just to Aussie culture, but also to the multiple cultures of those around you. With a strong international student community, most of your friends may be other international students. They tend to be the ones most keen to explore the novelty of their new surroundings (which of course is not so novel for the locals.) Queensland has a society just for exchange students which hosts weekly pub nights and weekend excursions. Its always reassuring to meet people going through the same adjustment process as you. Regardless of our diverse home countries, there is a common enthusiasm and sense of solidarity of shaping our mutual host country into our own.



Now for the fun part- practicalities! The cost of living is undoubtedly high, even when you’re used to London prices. As most students are probably used to already, budgeting and meal planning is a must. Yet adapting to a new place with a new currency and prices, makes it even more important. I find sticking to seasonal produce and making more mindful choices keeps costs as low as they possibly can be. Variety is never a problem, as Brisbane has lots of food markets all over the city on the weekends, however they tend to be just as expensive as the supermarkets.


Its not all bad news though! Rent is extremely reasonable, even for a central location. Transport is almost too easy- low priced buses makes it far too tempting to sacrifice $2 to avoid the 20 minute walk to uni when I’m feeling extra lazy. Overall, budgeting may be stressful, but it holds you accountable for your spending, and ensures you can save your money for the more exciting things that Australia has to offer.


By Eleanor Lake