Tuesday the 26th of July, 11:26AM
As part of my holiday to Australia I ended up doing some work at the same time. I guess sometimes work and traveling as a tourist go hand in hand when you work for an international office. The last time I was in Australia I met some staff members from Central Queensland University and we discovered our mutual interest in setting up a new cooperation between Fontys and them. To me it is mainly to do about equal opportunities for students that can not afford to pay tuition fees in Australia but still have a dream of going there for a semester. But also the potential of collaborating with this university on a more strategic level is important here.
So what happened is basically that I ended up letting them know I was in Melbourne for a holiday and they invited me to stop by for a coffee at their Melbourne campus. Once I was there, they insisted to also show me the campus in Rockhampton. So as some sort of half tourist half business woman I am now sitting in a reasonably small airplane in a seat that stinks of smoke, or maybe it’s the guy sitting in front of me…and I am on my way via Brisbane to Rockhampton.
The weather up in Rockhampton will be much nicer in July. It’s supposed to be around 25 degrees, which makes me happy as I have secretly been craving a bit of sun after 4 weeks of cloudiness and 13 degrees in Melbourne.
So far I find Australia an easy country to adapt to when you are used to life in the Netherlands. It’s a bit like the UK, with some elements from the US, but everyone is a bit more laid back and genuinely interested to make conversation. Which catches me by surprise so much sometimes that I probably come across as very rude as I am lost for words haha! It’s the little things that end up being hard to adapt to. Every time you meet someone, for example when you pay at a shop or when you just bump into someone, most people don’t just say hi. They say ‘hi, how are you?’ and then you are supposed to say: ‘I’m good, and how are you?’ To which they will answer: not too bad thanks! But the struggle is, who sais ‘how are you’ first? Sometimes I try to be first, but then we end up asking the question at the same time, which always causes this awkward moment, because you sort of don’t want to say ‘good thanks’ at the same time too… struggles haha! I am so used to just saying ‘hi’ when I meet someone that I forget to ask how they are doing. Which resulted in some expecting and confused expressions from strangers I met. But I am trying to convince them of my ‘normal-ness and friendliness’ by smiling at them after saying just ‘hi’ to make up for my foreign behaviour. It’s also good to know that they actually really don’t want to hear how you are really doing. I think that if you would answer with: ‘not so good actually, I have a lot of stress at work’ they would be in utter shock. Could be a fun experiment! Haha!
I have no idea who will pick me up from the airport. I know her name is Tanya, that’s all. As the captain is announcing in the meantime that were are almost getting prepared for landing and will be a couple minutes early I will stop writing here, and get back to finish the story by the end of the day, to hopefully give you all an idea of what the Rockhampton campus is like.
Wednesday the 27th of July, 10:38AM
And on my way back to Melbourne I am.. same small plane, this time without smelly people surrounding me, only a baby in front of me. All of those who fly frequently know the horrors of sitting close to a baby on an airplane. Although this one is nice and quiet so far, lucky us.
Yesterday I had an amazing time visiting the Rockhampton campus. When I landed I arrived at a really small airport. The baggage belt is in the arrivals hall, and it only has 4 gates, that’s how small it is. In the hall I found Tanya waiting for me, and she guided me to the car in which we drove to the campus. The weather was beautiful. Around 25 degrees or warmer. She even mentioned it sometimes gets up to 30 even in their winter. To me it was hard to imagine that this was their winter, it felt like summer to me. Apparently during the summer it gets really hot, into the high 30’s. So that is something you might want to consider if you choose for this campus. Driving towards campus I got a little glimpse of some houses and the surroundings. It seems very spacious in Rockhampton, lots of houses have bigger gardens and it’s just a lot more quiet than a big city like Melbourne or Sydney. To be honest, it can be quite relaxing for a change. The nature is very tropical with a lot of palm trees and flowers and beautiful birds everywhere. So the start was already good.
Arriving on campus I felt right at home. I immediately met some international office staff members and some teachers from the English language department who are all very friendly. The whole atmosphere was quite relaxed and their offices are surrounded by big grass fields and tropical plants. You often even see wild kangaroos chilling out on campus as well!
Everything on campus is within walking distance and after some meetings to discuss the programme and collaboration possibiltiies for students and staff I got a nice campus tour from Tanya. Rockhampton is the biggest campus and there are different buildings for different departments. I for example visited the nursery school, the engineering department and the drama and arts department. Some of their buildings seem a little older, others are renovated and new, but all of them have the same nice atmosphere. They offer a very wide range of programmes in Rockhampton, so there would be courses available to students from almost every Fontys-school. https://www.cqu.edu.au/courses-and-programs
Behind the school buildings and lecture halls you find the student residence. Which is quite nice as well. Students live in halls, with around 6 students per hall and a shared bathroom. The rooms are quite standard, with a bed, a desk and a wardrobe. They all have internet and the building that I visited had a common ‘lounge’. There are different student room houses that are spread over the student residence park, in which kangaroos hop around on the grass in between the buildings. Every house has there own name and I saw something about different houses organise house dinners for other students etc.
In terms of food they have a big dining hall with a buffet that serves 3 meals a day. As a student you can sign up for a meal plan so you don’t have to cook for yourself. And best of all: no dishes! They can also cater for most special diets if necessary. If you prefer to make your own dinner this is also a possibility. But most students go for the meal plan.
On campus they also have a travel agency, a Chinese shop, a shop that sells everything you need for studies like stationary and CQU merchandise etc. They are plenty of quiet places to study, like the library or some quiet room which are all air conditioned. They also have a big sports hall, a gym and a swimming pool that you can use. I am personally quite jealous as the international office staff members often go for a swim during their lunch break…
In terms of entertainment there is a real community feeling. I think you also need that because it is very different from being in a big city. So everyone is involved and a lot is organised, like movie nights, bbq’s, sports games etc. there are also a couple of places where students can go to for a beer, to play a bit of pool or to go to band performances in the all new on-campus bar: ‘birds cage’.
In the weekends international student go on a lot of trips, there is a beautiful beach nearby and an island that students love to go to. Or they book a cheap flight to visit other Australian cities over the weekend or during a break. Within Rockhampton there are also a couple of clubs and bars, and some great restaurants. The steaks are very good.
So all in all, if you want a ‘big city with skyscrapers experience’ I wouldn’t recommend you to go to Rockhampton. But for the great atmosphere, making friends, amazing nature, friendly staff and no dishes, I would definitely recommend this campus! It will make you feel right at home and I wish I could have stayed longer!
If you end up going to Rockhampton. Go for dinner at a restaurant called ‘Bliss’. The desserts are a work of art!
– Milou, Team Study Abroad, Office for InternationalisationVind ik leuk