Bilder zum Bericht

UNSW crest at gate 9.

Feeding wild lorikeets on the hostel balcony.

The Sydney Opera House during the Vivid Light festival.

A humback whale breaching during a whale watching tour.

Gorgeous sunset near Woolgoolga.


zur Übersicht




Austausch - OUT


12/13 SS


Sydney - The University of New South Wales


Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (7440)


I had the most amazing time in Australia. While travelling the country, I experienced moments which I had never experienced before. I fed dolphins and wild lorikeets, watched whales perform backflips, kissed lizards, held snakes, ran away from humongous bird-eating spiders, saw dugongs feed on seagrass, made my way through jungles and swam underneath waterfalls. The only thing I did not get to experience were sharks - but I'm not complaining. As well as that I got to completely immerse myself in the Australian culture by studying at UNSW and hanging out with locals. Spending a semester (or two) in Australia will probably be the best time of your life and your favourite decision you ever made. 


When I finally received the acceptance letter from UNSW in early November, I still had a lot to do before my departure. I needed to finish paperwork for university (enrol in all my courses and talk to my UZH study adviser about accreditation). I needed to book flights, buy a visa and buy appropriate health cover to be able to study in Australia. As well as booking flight tickets early (the earlier, the cheaper), I would suggest to arrive in Australia at least 3 weeks before uni starts in order to get used to the country, check out the campus, make it to O-week and other orientation dates - and most importantly, to get over one's jetlag. Getting a visa should not be a problem; anyone with a Swiss passport can buy a visa online on; filling out the forms takes 20-30min and receiving a confirmation email takes about 1-5min and you're all set! Finding OSHC (overseas student health cover) can be a bit trickier as there are many options. I bought mine with BUPA which had its advantages and disadvantages. It was cheaper than buying it at Medibank (another provider) while offering the same services; but UNSW has a Medibank store on campus, which facilitates receiving one's health card, claiming money back or visiting them with inquiries (even though there are many BUPA stores in the vicinity as well). You can check your quote on and see which cover suits you best. 

Once I figured out all the paperwork, it was time to find accommodation for the first few days in Sydney before finding my own place (which is always best done on-site). It would also be possible to live on campus - but be warned: Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world when it comes to accommodation. Rent is paid fortnightly, not monthly and can vary between $ 160 p/w (if you're REALLY lucky and share your room) up to $ 350 p/w. I booked a hostel (along with almost every UNSW exchange student there was - I am pretty sure the lot of us booked out the whole place) next to Coogee Beach called Coogee Beach Surfside Backpackers

As well as doing paperwork, I had to worry about packing - what do I bring and what do I leave at home? Sydney is extremely hot during February and even March. However, from April on, temperatures start to slowly sink and come May and June, you can feel the winter, particularly at night and in the morning. Therefore, it is important to bring summer as well as winter clothes. Airconditioning is especially strong on public transport and in UNSW classrooms, so I always had to carry a warm jumper with me. If you do not want to stuff your suitcase with winter clothes, you can find cheap sweaters, jumpers, scarves and the like at Tek's, Best&Less or Crazy Clark's, which all sell non-expensive clothing. 

Finally, I was added to a Facebook group for exchange students at UNSW by the university itself and provided with an 'Aussiemate' - a UNSW student and local who helped us exchangelings with all our inquiries prior to our departure, so that we could start our journey being a bit more at ease. 


I first arrived on the Gold Coast in Queensland where I had a week's time to acclimatise to Australia, the weather (I left Switzerland in the deepest winter and arrived in Australia in the hottest summer period), the language, the currency and everything else before going to Sydney. I immediately bought a pre-paid SIM card from OPTUS - one of the cheapest and best phone companies (plus, I've been told by all my Australian friends to stay clear of Vodaphone), so I wouldn't have to pay a small fortune to talk to my family and friends back home. I also opened up a bank account with Westpac - they have one of the best customer services; it's all for free and I had never been treated this friendly - as it is easier and cheaper to transfer all your funds from Switzerland than use your Swiss cards in Australia. However, because of the exchange rate, make sure you convert your money into dollars in Switzerland first before transferring it to Australia. Otherwise, you will lose out on a good deal of money.

After a few days, I started my road trip down to Sydney. The views were breathtaking. I took an early start so that I could have small stops on the way down and still arrive before nightfall (I'd suggest stopping by world-famous Byron Bay, the Big Banana, beautiful beaches, checking out the hinterland and definitely visiting the Australian Reptile Park which is about 2 hours north of Sydney). 

Upon arrival in Sydney, I was already over my jetlag and completely acclimatised to the new country. I arrived at my hostel, but as soon as I stepped foot in it I knew I wanted to leave as soon as possible (I am still not quite certain what the greenish stuff on the bathroom floor was). I thus started house-hunting and after two days I moved into my Sydney home (I will talk about house hunting in more detail in the next section).

Although I did not have to use public transport much (until later on when I started working), I was still happy to have a site which I could use to plan trips as public transport  in Australia - and particularly in Sydney - is extremely confusing and frustrating, even for locals. Thus, if you want to plan a trip, make sure to visit and save yourself some grey hair. 


I started house hunting on  and (for which I had to pay a small fee, but it was well worth it as I found my flat on that site), two great sites to find shared accommodation. From the very beginning, I knew I would not want to live on campus as it is far more expensive than living in a shared flat. I was looking for a location which would be in a walking distance to the beach as well as to uni, so that I would not have to use public transport (yay, saving expenses!). I made a few finds and within two days - after visiting all the places I found online - I moved into my new Sydney home in the suburb of Randwick (always check the flat out before agreeing to any payment as they are never exactly the same as they appear in the ads and could be a scam). Although I had to share my room with another girl - or should I say because? She became my best friend in Australia - and the flat itself with 4 other people, I loved the place. The rent was cheap ($ 165 p/w) and the flat was a 10-minute walk from the beach and a 15-minute walk from uni. As well as this, it was very close to Belmore road which is encompassed by everything you need - it has a big Woolworths and Coles, bakeries, cafés, restaurants, a huge shopping center and much more. 'The Spot' which is the get-together place in Randwick (it has shops, restaurants, cafés and the Ritz Cinema; perfect to hang out) was also only a 5-minute walk from my flat. Perfect!

I was very worried when I came to Australia and did not have a permanent place to stay at yet. I thought it might be difficult to find something as everybody was looking for a place, but I found mine very quickly and so did all the other exchange students who I met during my stay in Australia. I would suggest house-hunting in a small group, as you make friends that way and might find a place where you can all move in together - my friends moved into the flat below mine - perfect!


Thanks to Aussiemate and the Facebook exchange group, it was fairly easy getting into the UNSW vibe. Aussiemate - as well as the UNSW exchange office - would keep us updated on what we had to do before uni started. We needed to have our student IDs made, finish our enrolment, visit UNSW for orientation day - and the funnest part - join O-week. Before each semester there is an orientation week (O-week) during which one can sign up for various student societies (one can choose among hundreds of societies ranging from sports like football or quidditch to politics or food - amazing!), Arc (a student organisation which gives you more benefits than you could ever dream of - definitely sign up!), eat free food, play games, meet fellow students, party, watch movies... simply have fun while getting to know the campus. Since the Kensington campus (where I studied) is huge, new students commonly get lost. However, UNSW has a brilliant app for smartphones (called UNSW uni-verse) with a map and many more functions which will keep you from getting lost. For those without a smartphone - definitely print a map from the UNSW site to carry with you during the first few weeks or simply use the Arc student diary which already has a map with all buildings in it. 

I loved my time at UNSW. Although I was a full-time student (24 CP is the maximum one can take) I only spent 12 hours p/w at uni. In return, I had to do far more work at home than I ever had to do for UZH. We had tasks like small essays, problem sets and questions which we had to hand in on a weekly basis. As opposed to UZH, I had 3-4 major assessments in all four courses I took. However, this also gives you more free time as you can allot your study time in whatever way suits you best. This enabled me to work part-time for Hollister at Westfield's, which in turn helped me pay for food and rent as life in Sydney is expensive, even compared to Zurich (a single toothbrush costs $4 on average! Crazy!) 


Thanks to the hostel, various events organised by Aussiemate and UNSW, my sport clubs and the societies I joined (Footyfan society, Vegetarian society and Women's AFL) I made many new friends. With them, I explored Sydney and the surroundings. I especially loved the UNSW Stingrays (an AFL team I joined) as I have been an avid AFL fan and a member of the Brisbane Lions for a few subsequent years now and always wanted to try out the sport myself. I was also very fond of the FootyFanSoc which embraced anyone who loved footy (soccer, AFL or rugby). Thanks to them, I started supporting the Wanderers and my friends from the society and I would go to all the A-league final games as well as to a Brisbane Lions AFL game. Anyone who loves sports will love Australia, as sports are deeply ingrained in Australian culture.

However, sporting events are not everything Sydney has to offer. I got to experience the Mardi Gras (one of the biggest Gay Pride parades) in the heart of Sydney. I also saw the Sydney Vivid Light Festival, which covers the whole CBD in amazing light spectacles every evening for a certain period. There are many clubs, bars, pubs and anything you could wish for no matter what you like to do in your free time. A few things you have to do while in Sydney are visiting the Blue Mountains, doing the Coogee to Bondi walk, visiting the Rocks and, going on a Sydney harbour cruise and whale watching. Some of this can be done for free and for the rest, visit where you can find some of the most amazing deals! I went whale watching for a third of what it would usually cost because I found a great deal - definitely sign up! However, if you just want to relax, make sure to visit some of the beautiful beaches around Sydney. There's Maroubra beach, Coogee beach, Bondi beach, Tamarama beach and - probably the most famous one - Manly beach. 

Finally, to end this report, two more things: 

Firstly - get used to small reptilian creatures and insects. They are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Sydney is the city of cockroaches. If you have lived in Sydney for a week and not encountered a single cockroach, then I am afraid you are not actually in Sydney. Maybe you're confusing it with Sydney, NS (Nova Scotia, Canada) instead of Sydney, NSW? So get used to them, you'll have them as roommates. As well as cockroaches, I have found various other critters and crawlers in my bedroom - once, I even had a lizard sleeping on one of my dresses in my wardrobe. 

Secondly - bring earplugs. Your first few days in Australia, you will more than probably spend in a hostel. Unless you have an incredibly deep sleep and noise doesn't bother you, you will need earplugs. Similarly, you might end up living in a shared room. I was lucky and had a non-snoring (albeit sometimes sleep-talking) roommate and did not really need them - but you never know who you will end up sharing your room with. Lastly, although I am thoroughly in love with Australian birds - if you have never heard it before, Australian birdsong in the morning will be one of the most beautiful noises you will ever hear (plus, the birds are really pretty and colourful and come in all shapes and sizes) - after a few months, you will not love it as much anymore - ask the locals. 

Going to Sydney was one of the best choices I ever made and I hope that all future exchange students who go to Sydney have just as amazing a time as me!