March 2007 issue

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Relaxing in Adelaide

Once experienced, Adelaide is never forgotten. With its elegant buildings, acres of parkland and liberal, friendly people, it is said to leave a lasting impression on those who visit it. Gillian Evans investigates the 20-minute city.

Adelaide is more a way of life than a destination," asserts Bonnie Cothren at the Intensive English Language Institute of Flinders University of South Australia. "While [the city] has some great attractions, such as Kangaroo Island, Victor Harbour, Barossa and McLaren Vale wine valleys to name a few, in fact, the greatest thing about Adelaide is just the quality of its daily life. When I talk to students who really love Adelaide, they usually mention the same things that Australians mention: days at the beach, backyard barbies, nice neighbourhoods and friendly people."

An elegant city straddling the River Torrens (1) between the Adelaide Hills and waters of Gulf St Vincent, Adelaide is said to have all the attributes of a big city without any of the frustrations. Known as the "20-minute city," Adelaide is easy to navigate, taking less than 20 minutes to travel by bus from one end of the city to the other. What';s more, Adelaide';s inner-city buses run services free of charge to all of its major attractions. It is certainly a city where it is easy to feel at home, particularly for international students.

"Adelaide offers safe, easy and comfortable living for students [and] there are fewer international students in Adelaide compared with other Australian cities, so there are greater opportunities for students to practise their English skills," states Darren Donaldson, Promotions Officer at the English College of Adelaide.

Gaynor Green, Marketing Coordinator at Education Adelaide, highlights the city';s academic credentials. "Adelaide has a long history of academic excellence," she relates. "The University of Adelaide, for example, was established in 1874 and is one of Australia';s oldest and most prestigious universities."

Another advantage Adelaide has over other Australian cities is that the cost of living there is much cheaper. Green states, "Adelaide may be smaller than Australia';s other capital cities, but its compact size also makes it much more affordable. In fact, it costs 18 per cent more to live in Sydney, 17 per cent more in Melbourne and six per cent more to live in Perth or Brisbane."

Because living costs are relatively low, many students choose to live in rented accommodation, and according to Cothren, these students tend to "spend their weekends visiting each other at home for parties and barbecues".

There is also plenty going on in and around the city. Donaldson reports, "Students like to socialise during the day at the beautiful beaches, such as Glenelg Beach, sun baking or playing sports such as volleyball and surfing. They also enjoy shopping in Rundle Mall (2), the city shopping district, or at one of the many metropolitan shopping centres."

"A lot of our students hang out at Marion Shopping Centre. It is near the school and has movie theatres, bars and restaurants as well as shopping," adds Cothren. "Glenelg and Brighton Beach are also popular. Jetty Road Glenelg is good for shopping in the daytime and eating out at night, [and] Gouger Street has Asian restaurants for our Asian students who get homesick for a taste of home."

At night, Adelaide lights up with pubs, nightclubs, karaoke bars and restaurants. And, when it comes to food, Adelaide claims to offer just as much choice as Australia';s other cities but at a much lower price. One Australian food critic has even dubbed Adelaide, "Australia';s gastronomic capital". Adelaide is also known as the wine and festival capital of Australia. When it comes to festivals, Donaldson says, "there are almost too many to mention!"

";Whatever your interest, hobby or passion, chances are Adelaide honours it with a festival," concurs Green. "Apart from the biennial Festival of Arts, there';s also Tasting Australia, an event to showcase the country';s finest food and wines; WOMADelaide, an annual world-music festival; and Tour Down Under, one of the world';s best cycling events."

Cothren adds, "Most of the festivals promote various ethnic communities in Adelaide so they give some students a chance to enjoy their home culture in Adelaide, [while] other students can enjoy learning about new cultures and foods."

Schools also arrange activities and events to help students to integrate into the local Adelaide society and mix with other students. "One group of students from various schools meet every weekend at Henley Beach for a game of beach soccer," relates Cothren. In addition, the language institute at Flinders University organises a regular Friday afternoon soccer match for students, and it plans to arrange regular matches in other sports shortly. "This encourages students to take part in the great outdoor lifestyle of Adelaide," comments Cothren.

At the English College of Adelaide, students have the opportunity to take up voluntary placements in many diverse areas, from caring for the elderly to tree planting projects. The college also runs a "Culture Club". Donaldson explains, "ECA Culture Club is a free club for the students, organised and run by the teachers. We offer students a chance to take part in activities which otherwise they would not have the opportunity to do." Adelaide is also a good base from which to explore other attractions in South Australia, one of the most popular being Kangaroo Island. "Kangaroo Island is a favourite destination for tourists and students because of it';s untouched wilderness and wildlife," says Donaldson. Visitors to the island can see some of Australia';s most famous marsupials, including koalas, wallabies and echidna.

Donaldson relates an amusing tale of two students coming into contact with one of Australia';s most famous animals – the kangaroo. "Two of our students went on a weekend camping trip to Kangaroo Island," he says. "One student woke up after the first night and noticed that his bag had been rifled through and most of his food had been eaten. He woke up his friend and accused him of eating his food. His friend denied everything and they didn';t talk all day. The next night they were both sleeping when they heard something in the tent again. They awoke to find two kangaroos feasting on their supplies and having a jolly good time!"   

Other nearby attractions include, according to Donaldson, "great fishing, surfing and scenery at Victor Harbor," and the beautiful wine growing districts of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.

Agent viewpoint

"Our clients choose to study in Adelaide because of the small size of the city and the living costs, which are lower than other major cities in Australia. Students enjoy the activities, sports and wine tours that are available and also the friendly atmosphere. However, it can be hard for students to get part-time jobs. They also like the local people who are friendly and relaxed."
Yuka Washio, Oceania Koryu Centre, Japan

"We don';t normally have clients who study English only and come back. Normally they are [also taking up] an acadmic course, a diploma course or undergraduate programme. There are two reasons students choose Adelaide, one is because they have friends or relatives there and the second is because of our recommendation that it is a nice city where everything is cheaper; homestay fees, the cost of living, etc. Most of the time the quality of the host families is much better than in other Australian cities. The food and the cultural aspects are always positive. The only complaint we get from our Hong Kong students is that Adelaide is a bit boring. For parents though, this is very positive."
Jimmy Wong, Hong Kong Overseas Study Centre, Hong Kong

" ";Students prefer Adelaide to other Australian cities beacuse it is located farther away from heavily populated areas (although nowhere in Australia is overpopulated). It is also considerably cheaper in comparison with bigger cities, quieter and therefore, more comfortable, safer and pleasant. Students like the University of Adelaide and one of the main attractions for them is the art gallery. The city is surrounded by beautiful landscapes so students often go for picnics and play sports."
Natella Bulygina, Students International, Russia

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.






English Australia
Perth Education City
Quality English

Alphe Conferences
International House
       World Organisation

ICEF Online
Language Travel

Malta Tourism

English Australia
Eynesbury College
       of English
Flinders University -
Tafe International
       South Australia
University of
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Idioma - Escola de

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College of New
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inlingua Vancouver
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National School of
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Aspect (Australia,
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City College
ELT Banbury
English Studio
Globe School
       of English
ILS English
International House
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LAL Language
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       (England, Malta,
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Malvern House
       College London
Oxford Brookes
Oxford Intensive
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       England, France,
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Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
St Bedes
       Summer School
St Giles Colleges
       (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
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High Schools
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EC - English
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inlingua Malta
International School
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Malta Tourism

       Management AB
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EAC Language
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Escuela de Español
       la Brisa S.L.
Malaca Instituto -
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EF Language
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American Language
Hun School of
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Kaplan Educational
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Monterey Institute
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University of
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University of Illinois
       at Urbana-
Zoni Language
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Perth Education City

Queen Ethelburga's
St Bedes
       Summer School
St Christopher
Worksop College

University of
University of Stirling

ELS Language
       (Canada, USA)
Monterey Institute
       of International