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From July 2019 to February 2019 I studied and lived in the city of my dreams – Perth, Australia.
About a year ago my boyfriend and I decided to study abroad in Australia. After lots of planning, it was finally time to start our adventure: We arrived mid-July in Perth and moved straight in our student accommodation in the CBD. It was winter in Australia and even though Perth was very rainy at that time, not one day without happiness passed by.
So many little things kept my heart content: The beautiful bus ride to uni alongside the Swan River, watching the sunset at the rooftop and meeting new friends in our accommodation, exploring cute cafés in the neighbourhood and at the beach, going to the markets on a Sunday in Fremantle, surf lessons with all of my friends, paddling in the Swan River after classes, dancing and drinking beer at Universal Bar, …
In the following, I will cover anything that may be useful if you are planning or considering to study abroad or do an exchange semester in Perth. I believe some things may be useful for other cities in Australia as well, and in more general for any semester abroad experience.
For insights into my daily life here in Perth, you can have a look at my Instagram hannicoco_ where I share my favourite cafés, hidden beaches and everything that makes me happy (or even sometimes sad, because that’s how life is).
Why did I choose Perth for my semester abroad?
To explain why it was such a fast and easy decision for my boyfriend and me to choose Perth as our semester abroad destination, I have to explain my last five years a little further:
About five years ago I started my Work and Travel in Perth. After working for three months at a beachfront café at Scarborough Beach, my girlfriend and I decided to start our road trip and finally escape the city to see something of this incredible country:
With our little van, which we modified (basically put a mattress, some curtains, and a few storage boxes in it), we drove down south through Margaret River until Esperance and then to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne, Sydney and a little further north to Byron Bay until we had to drive back to Sydney to meet a friend from Germany to then fly back to Germany.
Three years later I took my boyfriend to travel Australia again. That time we did a road trip with an equipped campervan from Perth to Darwin.
That’s why I believe I could say that I already know a fair bit of Australia, so when the time arrived to choose a city to study abroad, it just felt natural to go to Perth again.
Western Australia and especially Perth is not that popular and therefore not crowded. Even during the summer holidays, you’re always able to find a spot just for yourself at the beach.
When travelling through the country, for example, the beach paradise near Esperance, the Cape Le Grand Nationalpark with its crystal clear turquoise waters, you are most likely to be alone at the beach, only accompanied by a local kangaroo.
And finally, when you put the Mediterranean climate conditions into consideration (we arrived in July, which is end of winter of Australia), Perth offers year through mild temperatures with a lot of rain in Winter (June to August) and hot, dry summers with fresh ocean breezes (December to February).
Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, where the rainy and cold winter months take a larger part and we would have had to wait for the start of summer so much longer.
I got a few questions about whether my semester abroad was worth it, if Perth is a nice city to live and study in, how the beaches and people are, etc. I just loved everything so much and still wish that I could meet everyone in February again to do another semester abroad together here.
About my student accommodation in Perth:
Since the most questions about my semester abroad experience evolved from my living situation, I will try to cover everything you guys have asked me through Instagram here. I am currently living in a student accommodation in the City of Perth, together with my boyfriend.
Reasons to live off-campus instead of living in one of the residences on campus
As an international student in Australia, you can choose between three options of accommodation:
- Living on-campus at one of the residential colleges
- Private housing: Living at the student accommodation The Boulevard
- Renting a flat / moving in a shared flat
1. Living on-campus at a residential college:
Just opposite from the campus of University of Western Australia (UWA) are the residential colleges located. As far as I’ve been told from friends who were living there, the main advantages of living on-campus are the closeness to Uni, social and sporting events, meals included in your rent so you don’t have to worry about cooking, and the community.
Nevertheless, we decided against applying for one of the colleges mainly because of the following reasons:
- It seemed pretty expensive for the type and size of the rooms you were offered.
- We like to cook for ourselves.
- It felt like the location is neither at the beach nor in the city and therefore not really nice.
Lastly, we stopped considering applying for a college the moment we found the student accommodation The Boulevard in the middle of the city.
2. Private housing: Living at the student accommodation The Boulevard
This is the option, that we decided for after we have weighed all the pros and cons.
At our student accommodation The Boulevard we have all the benefits of an own self-contained apartment (private kitchen, bathroom, living area) but combined with amazing communal spaces (gym, outside pool area, rooftop cinema, etc.) and a great community of international students. I can honestly only recommend The Boulevard.
You can have a look for other student accommodations if you feel this one doesn’t suit you.
Most of the big cities in Australia (e.g. Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast) provide private student accommodations beside the colleges. Even the The Student Housing Company (the company that owns The Boulevard) has other locations in Melbourne, which you may want to check out.
The Boulevard is located in central Perth with incredible views on Perth’s skyline. With small walking distances to the city’s shopping area as well as restaurants, bars and clubs in Northbridge, and a short walk to the train and bus station, it is perfectly situated for an international student to live your best life, meet people and get around this widely spread city without a car.
International students and community:
Almost everyone that I become friends with, lived in this accommodation (plus Caro<3) and almost every one of the residents here is international and is doing a semester abroad in Perth. (The reason behind why you do not find any or really few Australian students in the student accommodations is, that the majority of them lives with their parents and families until they start working and sometimes then starting to own their own place.)
In both student accommodations in the city are living students from the University of Western Australia(UWA), Murdoch University, Curtin University, and more.
How is transportation to and from UWA and to the beach?
The easiest way to get to your classes at UWA is to take the bus 950 just around the corner at Beaufort Street (250 meters walking distance), it will take you directly to university. With traffic, it can take up to 30 minutes to get to the campus.
Since the bus pass is not included in your semester fees, I recommend getting a „SmartRider“-card: You can buy them at any Transperth office and activate your student account to get charged the cheaper student fare.
Tipp: If you active autoload on your SmartRider, you get a 20% discount off any fare.
Another option is to buy a (used) bike to get around the city more flexible.
To get to the beach, you can either take the bus from Perth Busport or the train. It will take about 30 minutes to get to my personal favourite beach „Scarborough Beach“ with bus 990 from Perth Busport.
In which room option do I live in?
I am sharing a Twin Studio High Floor with Skyline View with my partner. That way we have a whole apartment by ourselves including kitchen, bathroom, and a small living area as well as two separate rooms with a desk, wardrobe, and bed in each of them. I am very happy with our apartment the way it is, though sleeping together in a King Single may not be comfortable for every couple (we’re using the second bed as a „couch“).
3. Renting a flat
Going on the hunt for your own flat may be a good choice if you want to live in neither of the above-described student housing options. Advantages may be lower prices, living near the beach, in Fremantle or any other personal favourable area,
What are other good areas in Perth to live in?
Reasons to go on the hunt for your own apartment or look for shared apartments can include lower costs, or that you are seeking to live in a certain area like at the beach. However, preparation and effort of finding a nice place must be considered. If you’re lucky, you may find a cosy home in the middle of the creative and open-minded suburb Fremantle.
Don’t forget that transportation outside of the CBD is not the best, so that for a certain location a car may be needed to get around.
I personally would recommend looking into the following areas of the city when renting your own apartment/room in a shared flat: Fremantle and its districts, near the beach in Cottesloe (good transportation to uni and to city) or my favourite place: Scarborough.
Semester Abroad / Exchange at the University of Western Australia (UWA):
The UWA campus is by far the prettiest campus I have seen so far. Between classes you can wander around through palm trees or along the Swan River trying to spot a dolphin, studying at one of the cosy cafés and drink a good coffee or oat matcha latte, greeting the UWA-peacocks or simply enjoy walking to your next class while looking at all the beautiful buildings.
Even though studying in English and in an unfamiliar environment was a challenge, everyone was really supportive and open-minded. In the end, classes were really not that difficult for me, except writing an essay in every one of them at the same time, which maybe was so hard because I was not used to write assignments in uni.
I enjoyed the fact that it is possible to watch any lecture online very much. Maybe too much since I then went not to one lecture at campus haha. With weekly mandatory events such as tutorials and participation marks, you keep being up to date in almost every unit and your final grade is not only depending on your success in the final exams.
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I dreamt of studying abroad since my very first day at uni, back in the days when I struggled to find the right place and direction (dropped out of uni two times). Actually can’t believe where I am right now. I am so grateful to experience this. PERTH, you’re a dream come true. 💛🧡 . . . Ich glaube, Auslandssemester sind nicht einfach nur Paradies – auch wenn es sich gerade sehr danach anfühlt. Man muss sich zurecht finden, orientieren, stolpern und ganz ganz ganz oft über den eigenen Schatten springen. Ich bin z.B. kein Liebhaber von Smalltalk oder anquatschen von fremden Menschen. Hab’ das Gefühl, ich kann’s einfach nicht richtig und bin super schnell verunsichert. Aber dann denke ich einfach: Der anderen Person geht es bestimmt nicht so viel anders und nur wenn ich mich wage, kann daraus etwas neues, Schönes entstehen. #seekdiscomfort 🌞💛 . . . . . . . . . #uwastudents #uwa #universityofwesternaustralia #wa #australia #studyabroad #internationalstudent #grateful #happy #dreamcometrue #dream #believe #unisweater #seekwisdom #seekdiscomfort #australien #auslandssemester #perth #travelperth #studentlife #me #portraitphotography #travelphotography #dankbarkeit
If you like this blog post and want to know more about me and my time in Perth, follow me on Instagram @hannicoco_ . Can’t wait to meet you there!
If you have any other questions about my experiences abroad or need any tipps, feel free to contact me here or on Instagram, happy to help!