Who: Kirya Gortmaker
Home University: Maastricht University
Host University: Flinders University
Studying: Undergraduate Psychology/Sociology
When: S1 2011
Academic workload and requirements at Flinders vs. your home university?
The workload was a little bit less compared to my home university, especially the first 6 weeks of the semester. The last 6 weeks were tough with all the assignments and exams but I managed to get everything done.
Resources/facilities provided to exchange students at Flinders?
Flinders did everything they could to make life as easy as possible for us. I think it’s safe to say that we just loved Klaus and his trips, I really enjoyed these opportunities to get to explore South Australia.
If your first language is not English, how did you adjust to speaking and learning in English?
At first, it was difficult to speak English. It’s my second language and I can understand it very well, but speaking it 24hours a day is something else. But you adjust so quickly! In the end I even had English thoughts and got confused with my own language sometimes. I do think I had a pretty good base when I came to Australia (got a lot of compliments about my English) but you really do adjust fast because you don’t really have a choice.
My accommodation was: On-campus
Would you recommend this kind of housing to other exchange students?
Yes! DJ Village is so fun. You get to meet so many students from Australia and all over the world, housing is good (I do wish I was in one of the units, no offense to the townhouses ;)) and easy going. Fun activities are organised and you’ll find ‘your’ people soon enough.
How much money did you need for living expenses (entertainment, room and board, travel, books etc)?
I have no idea. I wouldn’t want to count travel in, because that cost me a lot of money and I don’t really see that as living expenses. In the village, I think I spend about AU$1100 a month on food, drinks, shopping, going out, and the trips provided by the SSC.
What were the major differences between the culture in your home country and Australia?
Hard to point out exactly but I remember Australia being so laid back and relaxed. Of course at school this is not always the case, and we did stress out sometimes about busses not showing up, things like that, but overall I had the most careless time of my life.
Did you have any fears before going on exchange? Were you able to overcome these?
Just scared about going to the other side of the world on my own. But as soon as I arrived I felt at home, it never felt like I was on the other side of the world.
What were the best ways of integrating yourself and making friends with the Flinders community?
Living in the DJ Village integrates you best I think, and enjoying all the activities. Just go with the flow, hang out with everyone. Ozzies are the kindest people and the locals are almost always very interested in where you’re from and why you’re there.
What difficulties did you encounter (e.g. homesickness, finances, communication)?
I did spend a lot more money than I expected, especially on travels. I never had real difficulties though but I did underestimate it. I had some trouble with my courses and visa requirements but other than that, I had no difficulties what so ever. Of course I was homesick every now and then but I had such an amazing time!
Describe a typical day at Flinders University:
I got up, had breakfast in my lovely townhouse, walked across the bridge to uni, had a lecture (maybe 2), went to the library to copy or print some articles, took them across the bridge to the CC and sat on the deck eating lunch, reading my articles for next week while enjoying the view and the sun. Went home at the end of the day, had dinner with my amazing housemates and at night we would hang out at the CC, play games with friends or go out in the city.
What aspect of the exchange experience did you feel was most rewarding, either personally or academically?
Just the experience itself, being abroad for a longer period of time, taking care of your own stuff, making it at another university and enjoying the fact that you’re in such a beautiful country. I would not have wanted to miss this for the world.
What was the highlight of your program?
The highlight of my program at Flinders would definitely be the trip to Kangaroo Island. That was absolutely amazing! Awesome place and an awesome group of people to travel with. The highlight of my time in Oz was travelling in general and getting to see all the beautiful places around Australia.
What tips and advice would you give to someone who’s going on a student exchange to Flinders?
Make sure you bring enough time and money and enjoy every second of your time at Flinders and in Australia. Make the most of college life at Flinders, make the most of travelling while you’re there. Just GO!! It’s been an amazing time and I miss it. Time flies, it really does.