An Adventure in Australia Past Review

By (PSYCHOLOGY., Wellesley College) for

IFSA: Melbourne - University of Melbourne

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. I gained a new perspective on both America's culture and Wellesley's educational system by learning about those of Australia and the University of Melbourne, and I value them both much more now because of that. I also ended up catching the travel fever- I've been considering work, study, and volunteer options outside the US for after I graduate from Wellesley!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I found the workload to be much easier than I was expecting. I was warned before I left that I might feel almost frustrated by the nonchalance with which some Melbourne students approached their studies, and that is indeed how I found myself feeling, to a small degree. The quality of the professors and the lectures was quite good, but I didn't always feel like much was expected of me, and that definitely impacted my motivation to study and work hard. The grading system in Melbourne is such that 'very few' people are supposed to receive an H1 for a class grade (the equivalent of an A), but I came out of the semester with three of them.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our on-site program advisor was very accessible and supportive at all times. We were her first group of study-abroad students, so she was not terribly familiar with certain things (like our living situation, university deadlines, etc.), but she was very efficient and got everything done for us in a timely manner. There weren't many/any significant difficulties with cultural adjustments or the program's understanding of American culture. The program met or even exceeded my expectations in some respects.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment was located in the middle of Melbourne, about a 1/2 mile from the University of Melbourne campus. Our location was fantastic in terms of proximity to nightlife, restaurants, stores, etc. The apartment (UniLodge) staff were not very helpful upon our arrival, and they were not very clear about what was provided for our apartments and what was not. We had to buy many items to settle in- we were not provided with any linens or cookware.

* Food:

I was happy to cook for myself; there were many small cafes and other places to get food on campus, but I found it more economical (and often tastier) to make my own meals. My apartment was right across the street from a great grocery store, so once I'd invested in a pot, pan, silverware, and dishware, cooking was very little trouble at all. Restaurants in the city of Melbourne is very expensive, so those on a budget should probably not expect to be dining out too often.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

One of the biggest benefits of living in the middle of Melbourne was that there was always something going on, and we always seemed to find out about it. My friends and I attended several free music concerts, sporting events, night markets, and even a runway show at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. IFSA-Butler also arranged several free trips ("cultural events") for program students, so we went on a winery tour, we attended an Aussie-rules football match, we visited Phillips Island.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I personally did not have any health issues while abroad. My flatmate, on the other hand, had several ailments and issues while we were there, but she reported back that the health services in Melbourne were relatively efficient and helpful, and she had no qualms with the insurance provided by the IFSA program. There were no special vaccines needed for Australia. In terms of health, I felt completely safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent under $100 per week, I believe. There were many up-front expenses that scared me a bit, but I ended up saving quite a bit of money by cooking for myself and by walking to campus rather than taking the tram.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The first week or two, it felt like I was spending an excessive amount of money (buying cookware, other kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, other house supplies, etc.), and I was afraid that the high levels of spending would continue throughout the semester. However, this did not turn out to be the case. Students should expect, though, to spend more money in the first couple of weeks when they are setting up house. Also, Australians customarily use cash to pay for everything; figuring out how to get the best exchange rate at an ATM (many people used Bank of America, some opened Australian bank accounts, some used other US banks) will be very valuable.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Local Students

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Globalisation and the World Economy

Course Department: Economics: ECON20007
Instructor: Mike Pottenger
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was the most challenging of my courses; small group discussions led by the professor were quite thought-provoking and required much preparation on the part of ever student. The professor was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject, which made the class significantly more interesting for the students.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Australia Now

Course Department: Australian Studies: AUST20007
Instructor: Richard Trembath
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was specifically designed for study-abroad students; it served as an introductory course to Australian history, politics, history, etc. Although the professor was adequately knowledgeable about the subject, the material covered was not particularly complex or difficult to learn.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Organisational Psychology

Course Department: Psychology: PSYC30015
Instructor: Jeremy Anglim
Instruction Language: English
Comments: A 300-level course, it included many graduate students. The professor taught well and was accessible, though some of the material felt more like commonsense than anything else.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Sport & Education in Australian Society

Course Department: Education: EDUC10001
Instructor: Melanie Nash
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was designed for international students. It included several relevant field trips which proved to be a valuable component to the course. The teacher was very knowledgeable about the subject.
Credit Transfer Issues: I did not receive credit from my home college for this course, but I knew when I signed up for it that this would most likely be the case (I chose to complete it simply because I had an interest in the topic). I would not recommend taking this course if the student would need or expect to receive credit.