Living on campus in Australia is extremely different than what I’ve experienced at Berkeley. At Berkeley, we have a few different dorm options, and most people move off campus after freshman year.
If your study abroad program is anything like mine, we received no help in finding housing. So after some research, it appeared we had 3 options: stay at a college, go through an outside program, or find our own apartment.
At University of Queensland and other Australian universities, you go to classes at university and live in college. What we would call a dorm, they refer to as a college, and they are much more similar to American fraternities and sororities than dorms and halls. Though each one has a dining hall and dorm-style floors, each college has its own personality and a reputation. Take what you know about your freshman year dorm and combine it with your knowledge about your campus’ FIJI or Alpha Phi – that’s a college at UQ. There’s all-girls and all-boys colleges, coed colleges, colleges that are more known for partying and drinking, and colleges where all of the science-oriented students live. And as an international student, it’s hard to know which one you will fit into. It’s also important to note that while colleges are really fun and a great way to live with and meet Australians, they are very expensive. Living in college is the most integrative but most expensive option.
An Outside Program
I was directed toward a program called Semester in Australia, which specifically caters to international students and places them in homes close to campus. This appealed to me because it was cheaper than college but meant I had a place to live before I got to UQ. I ended up in a house with 5 other American girls a block from campus-a location we never would have been able to get otherwise. We all had our own rooms and the company took care of any issues we had with the house. They also took us to animal sanctuaries, bars, and markets. I met a ton of amazing American kids through this program, and am likely to see them all again. A program like Semester in Australia is an expensive and less integrative option, but is very comfortable and accommodating.
Finding Our Own Space
This option made me and my family very nervous, but worked out for many people I met at school. To find our own apartment, we would have needed to stay in a hostel for a week or so while we house hunted around Brisbane. Some of my friends found great cheap apartments in really cool areas of the city-West End, South Bank, even a little farther out into the suburbs. A lot of families and couples rent out rooms to students, and the prices make it a great option for international students. If you’re daring and willing to take a risk, finding your own space can be the cheapest option.
I loved my house and the girls I lived with, but if you really want to live next to Australians, colleges are your best option. If you have any questions about housing at UQ, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to help!