||Adelaide is clearly positioning itself as an education hub. According to a survey conducted by Study Adelaide an organisation responsible for growing South Australia’s share of the export education market the city boasts a 67 per cent student retention rate and was the primary study choice for three-quarters of all enrolled students in 2010.
Along with its pleasant Mediterranean climate, healthy and vibrant lifestyle and friendly, welcoming locals, this city ticks all the boxes in terms of what students may be looking for in a study abroad destination.
Often called Australia’s Little Europe owing to British, German and Italian influences there is a real continental feel to the city and Tina Beltsos, Head of English Language SA at Carrick Education, observes that there are restaurants to complement this. In fact, there are more than 700 restaurants, cafés and pubs to choose from, suiting all tastes and budgets, she says. However, as well as meeting fellow classmates for a meal or a drink, students at Carrick also like to spend their free time shopping in the central fashion district, Rundle Mall, vouches Beltsos.
Featuring over 700 retailers, Rundle Mall also contains several feats of modern architecture and sculpture including the Rundle Lantern a 748 panel LED lighting display wrapped around a corner building the Mall’s Balls, a four-metre spherical structure which is a popular meeting point, and a group of life-sized bronze pigs.
Rundle Street, a major restaurant strip renowned for its alfresco dining, is another area pulsing with energy. Fashion boutiques, eateries and bars line the street and Mark Osborne, Public Relations Manager at Study Adelaide, notes a raucous welcome, good beer and good music await international students. “Soak up the contemporary house beats at ultra chic Distill Bar or relax with cocktails at Cushdy. Catch great live bands at the Crown and Sceptre, Grace Emily or Governor Hindmarsh hotels where you’ll often find leading musos enjoying a drink at the bar themselves,” he enthuses.
With a grid-like layout, the city itself is easy to navigate and with its sprawling avenues, leafy greenspace and airy squares students will never feel hemmed in by their surroundings. Daniel McGeachie from English College of Adelaide (ECA) goes so far as to describe the city as a “big country town” giving students a real chance to become active members of the community. He notes that ECA students like to do as the locals do and visit Adelaide’s Central Market an essential pit stop for any foodie. In operation for over 140 years, this large multicultural market sells a variety of foodstuffs including cheese, bread, meat, seafood and groceries, as well as exotic herbs and spices. Riding the tram to Glenelg Beach or riding along the banks of the River Torrens on the free bicycles provided by the Adelaide City Council, are other popular pursuits, adds McGeachie.
“There are a range of activities that students can do within their spare time, most of which is conducted by Eynesbury or by a student host family,” explains James Fuller, Public Relations Manager at Navitas a group of which language school, Eynesbury International, is a part of. He adds that although individual experiences may differ, typical daytrips for students at the school include visiting Cleland Wildlife Park, going to an Australian football league game or visiting one of Adelaide’s many beautiful beaches. In fact, says Fuller, “The beaches are crowd free, making them the ideal place to surf, swim, fish and lounge around in peace.”
There is also much to see and do outside of the city limits. Osborne is only too happy to list South Australia’s many charms, “Forty miles of the finest whitest beaches, hundreds of festivals, 300 days of sunshine a year, rolling hills, vineyards, gold mines, salt lakes, ancient mountain ranges, and the mighty outback deserts,” he gushes. Handily, most major hotspots are within an hour’s drive of the city, including Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island in the Northern Territory. “Kangaroo Island is considered one of the best locations in Australia to see native flora and fauna in its natural environment,” expounds Osborne. Its rugged coastline, seal conservation centre, national park (Flinders Chase) and tasty local produce (the island is home to the only known pure strain of Ligurian bee in the world producing honey of outstanding quality) all keep its 140,000 annual visitors well entertained.
The Murray River and the Flinders and Mount Lofty Ranges are also within touching distance of the city and afford students the chance to find out more about the region’s stunning natural phenomena, including some 90 species of orchid, many of which are unique. Osborne adds, “By travelling into South Australia’s ranges and deserts, visitors might find the elusive yellow footed rock wallaby [part of the kangaroo family] and spectacular Sturt Desert Pea the state’s floral emblem.”
Anyone with a nose for wine will want to visit one of the nine distinct wine regions, all of which lie within an-hour-and-a-half of the city centre. “The Barossa Valley is a very popular option for wine lovers,” affirms McGeachie, while McLaren Vale, which, says Osborne, “produces of some of the country’s best wine and is home to the famous Willunga food market”, is 45 minutes to the south of Adelaide.
If students are looking for something more local and low key there are some great budget-friendly alternatives, observes Beltsos. She suggests students visit Warrawong Wildlife Park, complete with native kangaroos and koalas, take a daytrip to the historic, German inspired town of Hanhdorf, or perhaps stroll around one of the city’s many art galleries. The Opal Field Gems Mine and Museum complete with its own replica opal mine underground is another little find in the city centre. Guided tours are readily available, as are opal souvenirs, at a cost!
Osborne reflects that South Australia is known as the festival state and the city’s social calendar is packed full of free festivals and events. Beltsos rates the Cabaret festival in June, Womadelaide in March and the Adelaide Fringe in February/March in particular. Rivalling the Edinburgh Fringe in the UK, Fuller adds, “Artists from across the globe participate [in the Adelaide Fringe] alongside home-grown talent, in all art forms. For independent artists, it’s an inspirational environment. For audiences, it’s an atmosphere that encourages taking a chance on something new.” Meanwhile, a garden in Rundle Park becomes the centre of all summer entertainment for the lively The Garden of Unearthly Delights festival. Charging general admission, students are treated to an eclectic mix of carnival, comedy and circus for 30 days and nights. One particularly interesting sideshow this year included a collection of mutant animals, including a genuine fully grown two-headed turkey with three legs, and an albino Kangaroo!
“My students like the city because Adelaide is a city where they don’t have traffic jams, the streets are clean and calm, the cost of living is affordable and there are good options of schools and universities where they can study. The students also say that it’s a very safe place to live and they don’t need to worry about walking alone late at night. Brazilian students are used to spending hours in a traffic jam and when they are in Adelaide and they can move quickly from one place to other, they realise that now they have more free time to enjoy their friends, working, studying, etc. It’s a very relaxed, laidback city. In Adelaide people are used to talking to international students every day and even if you go to the far suburbs, the local people will respect you as much as they respect Australian students.”
Thiago Franciscato Fujiwara, Kangaroo Education, Brazil
“The feedback we get from our students in Adelaide is among the best of all of our students in Australia. The students love the climate and the comparative low cost of living combined with a very high quality of lifestyle. Of course for Germans the option to live on the beach and get on the university campus in 20 minutes is extremely attractive. The Adelaideans are very friendly. Also the short distances within the city makes it easy to get around without losing much time. Students in Adelaide seem to become ‘locals’ very quickly, even if they only study for just one semester there. The proximity to destinations like Kangaroo Island, the Flinders Ranges and the outback make Adelaide an ideal destination. And of course just out of Adelaide, the Germans can get in touch with German settlements in the Barossa Valley, like Hahndorf.”
Tobias Forster, GoStralia, Germany