On July 3rd I stepped off the plane in Australia for the second time – the first being for three months when I was 19 and backpacking around the world. This second time I knew was going to be a vastly different experience from my first one. This was mainly because I would be living in one town, Warrnambool, for the entire four months as opposed to travelling to a new town every few days with no prior knowledge of where I was even going to sleep that night.
In 2012 I came to Australia and fell in love with the Great Barrier Reef and fell back in love with the ocean as I do every time I see it. This passion for oceans and the life it supports caused me to pursue a degree in Marine Biology. My home institution, the University of Guelph in Canada, is close to many lakes and other freshwater systems but is 850km from the nearest body of salt water and would take approximately 10 hours to drive there. Studying at Guelph has been the most incredible experience, but it is sometimes hard to remember why I am studying marine biology when I don’t have reminders in close proximity.
Heading to Deakin University for a semester was the obvious choice to help give me the motivation I needed to complete my 4.5-year degree. Being so close to the ocean and being here to witness the Southern Right Whales as they overwintered in Warrnambool has been such an incredible experience.
While studying here, my mother had the opportunity to visit in August, and my father will visit in November. During the visit in August, I was able to show my mom just some of the few highlights of this amazing country, including a visit to Hobart in Tasmania and the surrounding area; a trip up to Cairns for a snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, where we were lucky enough to have some humpback whales show off their breaching ability; and a two-day tour along the Great Ocean Road. The trip with my dad in November is going to encompass a trip to the West Coast, hitting up Perth, Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef. Being in Warrnambool, it made it hard to participate in many of the events organised by Deakin for international students, but I did make it to Lorne along the Great Ocean Road for an International Student Welcome Party put on by Deakin, which was an incredible two days.
Since I was in Australia previously, I did not think I would experience much culture shock. However, the opportunity to get to know many Australians on a more personal level than last time I was here did give me some culture shock, and opened my eyes to the different mannerisms employed by our respective countries. Despite the culture shock, however, I believe more and more every day that Australia is a place I would someday like to put some roots down, and despite this trip winding down, I feel at ease knowing it surely won’t be my last time in this incredibly unique country.
For further information about studying at Deakin and to view the many degrees on offer, visit our international student page.