Jumping on a plane and moving halfway around the world can be daunting and exhilarating. Kira Brereton did just that when she left Toronto, Canada, to study in Cairns, Australia. She shares some handy tips for international students coming to JCU.
The bright tropical light and steamy weather could not have made it any clearer to Kira Brereton that she was very far from home. Kira left -20 degrees and a dark January winter to come and study in the Tropics last year. Originally from Toronto, the second year Bachelor of Sustainability (now renamed the Bachelor of Environmental Practice) student is busy making the most of her time in Australia and has some words of wisdom for other international students.
Location, location, location
Whether you’re studying in Cairns, Townsville or Singapore, each JCU campus offers chances to have an adventure and make lifelong memories. Kira admits she didn’t know much about Cairns before arriving, but she is glad that it’s her home while studying.
“I’ve got the reef on one side and the rainforest on the other side,” she says. “Just the location itself and the little things you can do on weekends has made it easy to relax and take a break from uni.”
The tropical climate also allows students to study in some unusual places.
“We had a major essay and worked on it while we were down at the beach,” Kira says. “It was the Easter weekend, so after we finished working we had Easter dinner together.”
Building friendships with other students will make your time at JCU more memorable. Plus, it could lead to a lifetime of global adventures.
“Put yourself out there and be social,” Kira says. “The more friends you make, the better your experience is going to be. It’s a great opportunity to meet international people. When you go travelling after your studies, you can travel anywhere in the world and you will know people. I’ve got friends in 20 different countries.”
However, don’t forget to talk to the locals. Kira has discovered that making friends with Cairns residents has given her the inside scoop on the best places to hangout.
“It’s easy for international students to meet other international students, but it’s a good mixture of both on campus,” Kira says. “It’s good to meet not only with international students but with locals, as well, because they’ll take you to where the locals go, like the waterfalls.”
Going to the other side of the world isn’t only about parties and kicking back. Studying in another country opens the door to having a kind of education that you can’t get back home. Highlights of Kira’s studies in Australia include going on field trips to the Tablelands, Yarrabah and Holloway’s Beach.
“Go to class,” she says. “You’re here to learn. It’s a different way of teaching here and you’re going to learn different things than you would back home. Make the most of both the education and the facilities that the Tropics have to offer.”
Not everything you learn will be found in a book or on a field trip. Kira says having as many experiences as possible has helped her to grow — although adulting can still sometimes be tough.
“I’ve learnt a lot, not just academically but as a person,” she says. “I just jumped in the deep end to start uni and get a car and be an adult all at once. It’s an initial shock and it’s terrifying, but once you get into it, you don’t want to go back and be a child. You no longer want to rely on mum and dad for everything, you’ll want to do stuff on your own.”
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