||Australia has many unique selling points. According to Susan Sharpe, Principal Administrator at Milton College in Sydney, NSW, one of Australia’s major draws is that it is seen as an exotic destination, “unusual and remote with a relaxed lifestyle”.
“Students come to Australia because it’s far away from home and it’s different,” confirms Heather O’Shannessy, Principal of Language Studies International (LSI) in Brisbane, QLD.
Samantha Milton, Director of the Sydney English Academy (SEA) in Sydney, NSW, says that Europeans in particular choose Australia because the travel and cultural experience there is totally different from anything they can find closer to home. “If you are interested in wildlife, the strangeness of our animals is hard to match, and added to that, the richness of the Aboriginal culture and the uniqueness of the landscape make Australia an experience like no other,” she asserts.
One of Australia’s best-loved destinations, Sydney offers endless opportunities for recreational activities, says Gareth Lewis, Sales and Marketing Director of Kaplan International Colleges Australia and New Zealand, which has branches in Sydney, Manly, Brisbane and Cairns. “You can go snorkelling at Clovelly Beach or at Gordon’s Bay; enjoy a walk along the coast, perhaps meeting friends for a BBQ; shopping at the Rocks markets; have a quiet afternoon reading in the Domain, enjoying the city skyline and the sound of birds at the same time; or stop for coffee at one of the amazing little cafés along Crown Street,” he relates. “The way of life is so laid back you can’t help but feel happy and relaxed especially when the sun is shining and the sky is blue!”
Beach life is very important to Sydneysiders. “Manly, of course, is famous for its beautiful beaches and great surf many of the world’s top surf champions grew up learning to surf on these waves,” says Milton at SEA, which runs an English and surf course for those who want to perfect both skills. Kevin Warham, Marketing Director of the Sydney English Language Centre in Sydney, NSW, say he enjoys a morning swim before school, where he often meets some of their students also enjoying the water. Other highlights for Warham include the various open-air markets, selling everything from clothing to antiques, music and local art. He adds, “I also love jumping on the bus from Bondi to Watsons Bay where you can have some amazing seafood and a beer at the Watsons Bay Hotel which looks back across the harbour towards Circular Quay. From here you can hop on a ferry, which will take you to the historic Rocks area where the Australian Hotel has amazing crocodile, kangaroo and emu pizzas.”
If crocodile, kangaroo and emu pizzas aren’t quite to your taste, there is a whole platter of restaurants serving up food from all corners of the world. “The variety of cuisine available [in Sydney] is a reflection of [its multicultural population] and means that you don’t have to miss your favourite comfort food as you will always find a restaurant not too far away which serves your local dishes.”
But Sydney is not the only city that offers great beaches, restaurants and bars. Perth on the west coast is another of Australia’s gems. “For people who want the experience of studying and relaxing on the pristine white sand beaches then this is the place,” claims Neil Butler, Campus Director at Global Village Perth, which is situated in Scarborough, WA, 15 minutes from Perth city centre. “Scarborough Beach is known for its beautiful, uncrowded beach, nightlife and high quality lifestyle. If surfing, kite-boarding or any other water sport are your passion then here is a great opportunity to do the lot. If active water sports aren’t for you then there is always the option of a romantic sunset cycle ride along the coastal bike paths or maybe just a quick game of golf and then a sunset barbecue on the beach.”
For students studying at the Centre of English Language Teaching at the University of Western Australia in Crawley, Perth, WA, the beach is just 10 minutes away. Ideal, according to Shoshanna Vernham at the centre, for a nice relaxing walk or refreshing swim after work on a hot summer’s day. And at night the city comes alive. “At night you can catch a play or a movie, and have dinner at one of the vast number of different restaurants in Northbridge from all sorts of cuisines, and then dance the night away if you feel like it,” reports Vernham. “The streets of Perth are always abuzz with people enjoying the wonderful lifestyle and climate, and best of all its easy to escape to the peace of nature, the beach, the river, the hills, all within easy access to the city.”
For a city with all the facilities of a larger metropolis but without all the hustle and bustle, Brisbane is an ideal choice, according to O’Shannessy at LSI. Highlighting some of Brisbane’s top spots, she says, “Southbank is a popular area where there are cafés, restaurants and cultural venues such as the Performing Arts Centre, museum and art galleries. We have the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can cuddle a koala and feed the kangaroos, [and] the famous Australia Zoo of Steve Irwin, of crocodile hunter fame, is a short drive to the north.”
Lewis confirms that there is “a multitude of activities” to undertake in and around sunny Brisbane. “Even though Brisbane has the famous city-centre Southbank beach you cannot help being lured away by the proximity of the spectacular beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts as well as the lovely scenery of the
“[Australia has] been seen as a desirable and exotic destination for many years. Friends go, encouraging other friends to go. The Gold Coast, Sydney and Perth are our biggest destinations, probably in that order. The highlight of Australian language schools is the cultural attitude, the laid-back approach to problem solving, reflecting openness and accessibility.”
Denis Baker, Aventure Linguistique, Switzerland
“Australia offers a unique combination of wonderful natural environment, pleasant climate, vibrant multicultural cities, a very strong economy and quality education. On top of that students can work while they study and there are plenty of jobs for them. Sydney remains the most popular. The city offers everything: great climate, great schools, job opportunities and some of the best city beaches anywhere in the world. Other smaller destinations like Noosa, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast are also popular. They offer a truly Australian experience.”
Gavin Dowling, Go Australia, International
“Australia is such an immense country with a lot of space, beautiful beaches, nice surfing, fantastic shopping, great diving and really nice homestay [families]. The Sydney area and Gold Coast [are our most popular destinations] because of the climate and the well-known skyline. The Swiss [also] love beaches and surfing. Students enjoy sunbathing, sports such as surfing and diving, shopping, kangaroo and koala spotting, the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. I personally loved the Kimberleys in Western Australia, a mystic, fantastic and very spiritual place with amazing natural formations.”
Claudio Cesarano, Globostudy, Switzerland
“There are so many interesting places, where one can study, that the choice of the city is difficult. Lately, most of the students from the Czech and Slovak Republic tend to go to Sydney. It is one of the best known cities in Australia, there is the widest choice of English and VET schools and universities and quite a large Czech community living there. In addition, Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, is becoming more popular. In comparison to Sydney, Perth is smaller, calmer and there are less international students. Students often say how the people are very friendly, helpful and willing to talk to them.”
Katerina Mertenova, Information Planet, Czech Republic