Australia holds a certain sense of adventure, and Jacqueline Huskinson, Principal and Director of Studies of LSI Brisbane, QLD believes this is what attracts many students to study there. “The country is so diverse [with its] rainforest, deserts, mountains and a spectacular coastline,” she comments. Samantha Milton, Director and Homestay Coordinator at Sydney English Academy (SEA), NSW agrees, adding that students are “intrigued by just how different Australia is; the wildlife, the landscape, the traditional art and culture is so different from anything else anywhere in the world”.
Most students who study in Australia do so with a desire to travel around the country either before or after their studies. As Ian Pratt from Lexis English in Noosa Heads, QLD observes, “Students travelling from around the world to Australia are not just doing so for a quality language learning experience, but also to experience the natural attractions that are unique to Australia.”
Michael O’Grady’s own love of travel led him to set up his language school, Byron Bay English Language School in NSW. “I have always enjoyed travel and languages, [and] Byron Bay offered a beautiful place to settle. The school’s foundation came from the desire to remain a traveller and meet and help others who are just starting on their own adventures.”
Byron Bay itself offers students an “off-the-beaten-track” surfer town experience of Australia. “Everyone who visits Byron Bay comments on the quality of the natural attractions beaches, clean sea and mountains as well as the laid back and friendly local people. It’s a very special place and we are trying to keep it that way!”
Pratt at Lexis English, which has language centres in Noosa and Maroochydore (both on the Sunshine Coast), beachside Perth and Byron Bay, says that they specifically chose quieter locations away from the bigger cities for their language centres. He believes that smaller locations allow students to integrate more into the community than the larger cities, and recounts the experience of one of their Brazilian students in Noosa who is a volunteer coach of a local under seven’s soccer team. “This has been such a positive experience for all concerned he has great interaction with a vibrant community group, he is a real favourite of his little soccer stars (and more than one mum!) and for the first time ever, the team looks like going through the season undefeated!”
Most language schools, regardless of location, encourage their students to mix with the local community. As Huskinson at LSI Brisbane says, “From day one we tell our students that the classroom is where you learn the language but outside is where you live the language.” With this in mind, LSI, like many other centres, helps students find volunteer placements. Finding paid work is another way in which students can meet the locals and, according to Jason Flaming, School Director at ILSC-Sydney, NSW, Sydney offers great opportunities to work. “We offer support to students for this with our Job Club a free one-hour session once a week at lunchtime to help students with CV writing, tax-form filling, and job hunting skills. In addition to this, we have our very popular café skills class in the afternoon that teaches student the ins-and-outs of being a barista.”
Despite being the most densely populated city in Australia, Sydney offers students the benefits of lively city living and quieter suburban life. “The city is so very beautiful and full of life at all hours of the day, every day,” observes Flaming. “[But], despite the fact that Sydney is so hustling and bustling, it has wonderful suburbs and ocean-side neighbourhoods that are extremely chilled and relaxing. It’s the best of both worlds.”
One such suburb is Manly, home to SEA. According to Milton, “Life in Manly is like life on a beautiful tropical island; wherever you live you are never far from the beach, the culture is friendly, relaxed and easygoing and you quickly get to know the locals as Manly is like a village.” New South Wales itself has, according to Milton, some of the “most untouched national park areas in the world where students can do anything from mountain-biking and rock-climbing to horse-riding and surfing”.
There are also plenty of adventure activities on tap for those studying in Cairns in far North Queensland. “Cairns is a tropical town close to the Great Barrier Reef, and travellers can take day trips or overnight and extended stays on one of the many dive boats or pontoons available,” says Lyn Carlyle-Jacob, International Advisor at Cairns Language Centre. “Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular sports for young and old alike. At Yorkey’s Knob you can try wind and kite surfing, while Kewarra, Trinity and Clifton beaches all offer safe swimming (in the lifeguard patrolled areas) plus uninterrupted sand and beachfront for just enjoying the sun and sand.” But Cairns is not all about water activities. Surrounded by world heritage rainforest, students can easily get a taste of rainforest life with skyrail and the Kuranda Train taking visitors to Kuranda village on the Barron River in the heart of the rainforest.
In Australia, natural beauty and breathtaking scenery are never far away, regardless of study location. Brisbane, for example, is a great place from which to explore the world heritage site Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Brisbane is also a good starting point for experiencing the lively Gold Coast with its famous Surfer’s Paradise and the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane itself, says Huskinson, is a “vibrant cosmopolitan city with a fantastic café culture and a lively night scene”. She adds, “One of the nicest local places and there are many is the lookout at Mount Coot-tha. For the price of a bus ride you can ascend to one of the highest local points and take in the breathtaking views over Brisbane and the bay either during the day or at night.”
For panoramic views of Perth, Leanne Everett at Language Links Education & Training College in Perth, WA recommends Barrack Street Jetty & Bell Tower, South Perth Foreshore by ferry and the Kings Park Botanical Gardens. “These areas offer amazing views of the city skyline and are great spots to relax and soak up the beautiful Perth sunshine,” she says. Perth itself has plenty to offer students, from shopping, restaurants, cafés and bars to beautiful beaches such as Scarborough Beach, Cottesloe Beach and City Beach, all under half an hour away from Perth by public transport. “Cottesloe Beach is often referred to as one of Australia’s most striking urban beaches,” adds Everett. Not far from the city are Rottnest Island, with its 63 stunning beaches and unique quokka marsupials, and Penguin Island, a popular ecotourism location with perfect white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters and plenty of activities such as penguin feeding, wild dolphin watching and bird watching.
For surf lovers, Queensland International Business Academy (QIBA) in Coolangatta on the Gold Coast is ideal. “QIBA’s student balcony overlooks famous Kirra, Coolangatta beaches and Snapper Rocks where annual surfing competitions such as Quiksilver, Roxy Pro, are held,” says Lynn Tyler QIBA’s Principal. And with a minimum of 300 days of sunshine per year, it is, she says, the perfect environment for combining successful study with a wonderful lifestyle.
“The advantages of studying in Australia are that the social environment is very comfortable and the climate, of course. Work permits during study and possible work/immigration options after graduation are also attractive. We mainly send students to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as they are better known cities with the largest populations in Australia. Demand for Perth is also increasing slightly. What I like best about Australia is getting offers for my clients from top 100 universities in the world it is much easier in Australia compared to UK, USA and Canada. No GRE/GMAT is required, package/conditional offers are available and relatively much lower GPA scores are required.”
Rahmi Mesud Yilmaz, Atlas Private Educational Services, Turkey
“Our students fall in love with the ‘Aussie’ culture and lifestyle. As soon as they arrive they feel welcomed and looked after, not only by their host families but also by school staff. The friendliness, academic environment and beauty of the country have made Australia our students’ favourite study destination. During 2012, the majority of our clients chose New South Wales as their study destination, followed by Queensland and Victoria. Sydney and Brisbane are definitely favourites too; Sydney’s famous sights and fast pace make it a great place to study. Brisbane offers a much more laidback experience while having all the big city must haves. The country’s beauty and sights, the little towns and amazing beaches full of character and colours, finding new weekend escapades while experiencing the culture and learning a new language are just a few big surprises that students will encounter on their journey. What surprised me most about Australia was the people the ‘Aussie’ friendliness towards international visitors.”
David Arango, Latino Australia, Colombia