This report was written by 11 students from the University of St. Gallen who simultaneously completed an exchange semester at Bond University from September to December 2015. The 11 students are on both bachelor and master levels and study various fields. The report was created as a joint effort in which everyone wrote down their own experiences on a specific topic. Anne Sofie, Marco and Yannick are at your disposal for further information – the three of us have registered for the exchange semester via MicroEDU.
Application & University
Bond University is a private university on the Gold Coast, approximately 15 minutes by car from Surfers Paradise. As one of the few universities, the academic year is not divided into semesters but into trimesters. The trimesters are divided as follows: from January to the end of April, May to August and September to December. The university has a very high proportion of international students. Especially in the last trimester there are a lot of exchange students because the semester times are compatible with the European system. It can therefore happen that only exchange students are enrolled in individual courses.
The cost per trimester for foreigners is AUD 10,500. However, it must be said that the campus is very well equipped and all facilities can be used free of charge. This includes a gym with regular group sessions, 6 outdoor tennis courts, 2 squash courts and a heated pool. The library offers a lot of study places, which are little used during the semester. Use increases during the examination phase, but you can always find a place somewhere. A multimedia learning center is also available 24/7. Many PC stations are set up there and there are also additional study places. A cafeteria is provided for catering, where you can eat from morning to night. There are also some coffee stations spread across the campus. In terms of price, the catering on campus is roughly at the Swiss level, which corresponds to the Australian standard.
- Australia is a major country in Oceania continent. For information about Oceania, please visit areacodesexplorer.
Course of the application process
After you have applied to Bond with the necessary documents, you will first receive a confirmation after a few weeks that you have been accepted as to which of the selected courses you are allowed to attend and the request for payment. In some cases it can happen that you have not (yet) been admitted to all of the desired courses. In that case, I recommend contacting the Bond International Student Office directly, preferably by phone. The people are really extremely helpful and a solution can certainly be found quickly. After receiving the payment, the bond will issue the CoE (Confirmation of Enrollement) at some point. In several cases it has happened with us that this CoE was issued very late in spite of early payment. However, since you need them for the visa application as well as for enrolling in the courses (first come, first served!), It is worthwhile to contact the International Student Office early on. If there are still difficulties: Don’t panic. With a little extra effort, we all have both Visa works as well as the courses.
Regarding the timetable, one can also say that with four courses it is basically possible to complete your lectures and tutorials within three consecutive days (in Australia attendance is compulsory!). Logically, however, this requires a certain flexibility in terms of course selection. All of our events had at least four consecutive days of the week, i.e. certainly a long weekend for opportunities to travel, etc.
Visa / arrival
The student visa can be applied for online with the confirmation of the bond (Letter of Enrollment) (http: immi.gov.au/Pages/Welcome.aspx, Subclass 575) and is usually approved and delivered within a few hours by email. It costs around 500 CHF for the Swiss. Alternatively, many Germans had a Working Holiday Visa, which also allows you to study for 4 months and is much cheaper.
You can book a flight either on the Internet or, in the case of more complicated flight routes with a stop-over in Singapore, for example, through a travel agency. It should be noted that when entering Singapore, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months. The majority fly to Brisbane and travel to the Gold Coast from there. There is the possibility to book a direct transfer (www.con-x-ion.com, 49AUD) or to take the train directly from the airport to Robina and from there to get to the accommodation by taxi or bus.
Cost / cost of living
This section of course depends very much on the individual and what standard of living they would like to enjoy in Australia. Basically, it can be said that Australia is not a cheap country. The rents, excursions and alcohol are expensive. However, petrol, meat and food in restaurants (for example sushi) are cheaper than in Switzerland. Food on campus is generally a bit more expensive. If you have lunch every day on campus and treat yourself to a few coffees, you can earn a nice sum at the end of the semester. Roughly speaking, 2500 AUD per month should be enough for a pleasant semester:
- Housing (rent, internet) approx. 1200 AUD
- Groceries and snacks approx. 500 AUD
- Excursions around 500 AUD
- Exit and restaurant visits approx. 300 AUD
- Car (covered above)
(The prices are quoted in AUD because we have chosen an optimal time for the semester in Australia. On the one hand, the AUD was very weak and the CHF was very strong, thanks to the cancellation of the minimum exchange rate.)
Of course there are no upper limits and Australia offers a large selection of shopping opportunities, excursions and nightlife.
Similar to the assessment year at the University of St. Gallen, Bond University also has a start week. Unlike at home, however, this is generally aimed at all newcomers to the university and is not exclusively designed for assessies / freshers. Accordingly, this early week before the start of the semester is called “Orientation Week” or “O-Week” for short. The O-Week took place this autumn semester from September 7th to 11th, 2015 and, in addition to various information events and workshops, included one thing in particular: parties. Like the good old opening weekend is also the O-Week to get to know some new people at the beginning and make friends with the university life at Bond. More details on the available “night activities” can be found in the “Nightlife” section.
All activities (parties, workshops, campus tours, etc.) can be found in a booklet, which is accessible online and in print. Regarding the information events offered, however, it can be said that these were quite boring for us as exchange students and that you could safely save them. While one can still indulge in a campus tour, other things like a scientific work workshop are of relatively limited use for non-freshers. An introduction to the university’s IT services (setting up webmail, etc.) is also self-explanatory in our opinion. Of course, it is up to each person to form their own picture and the benefits may increase depending on their individual English level. In summary: The quality of the O-Week info sessions is by no means bad,
What is also noticeable about the O-Week is that you are extremely free to organize your time. While the Start Weeks case study in St. Gallen provides a more or less fixed program, in O-Week you can find yourself just going to an event so that you have something to do. In this sense: Contrary to the general assessment of other experience reports, you can also arrive during or after the O-Week without any major disadvantage. However, if you are interested in making a few contacts and not missing one of the best starting weeks of the semester, then an (at least partial) presence during this week is recommended.
Here are two more tips for the start of the semester:
- If, like some before us, you arrive in Robina a few days before the Monday of O-Week, it is advisable to collect your StudentID (student ID) on the previous Friday at the Students Business Center, as the rush during O-Week is relatively large. After five minutes and a short snapshot, we have already received our StudentIDs.
- In the Security Office (opposite the Bond Gym one floor below), the StudentID can be activated for access to the library and the MLC, which are otherwise closed or not freely accessible on weekends and after certain times.