CBS Exchange Part 9: Swinburne University of Technology
For our final day of CBSLife Exchange Week, we head down under to see what it is like to get thrown into the great outback.
Name: Sophie Hildestad
CBS study program: BSc in Business Administration and Service Management (SeM)
Exchange school: Swinburne University of Technology
City: Melbourne, Australia
What is it like at Swinburne University of Technology?
The school consists of many different faculties, and the study environment is very different from CBS. You’re expected to hand in at least one assignment as well as taking several tests during the semester, so the final exam in each unit (subject) will generally only count 40-50 % of your total grade. Therefore you’ll actually have to make an effort during the semester, and not just bury yourself in books for the last couple of weeks before exams – which used to be my strategy! Even though there are many different faculties (Business, Engineering, Arts, etc.) it is a cozy university with great facilities and the teachers are very approachable and helpful (especially when you’re an exchange student). The facilities in general are of high standards – with a great mixture of new and old buildings. They have a big library, which is perfect for studying, with some quiet areas on the upper levels, and a lower level for students who like to socialize while they study.
Was it easy to make friends?
I arrived a couple of weeks before the semester started, in order to find accommodation and explore the city a bit. The study abroad office had a welcoming-week, where you got the chance to see campus and meet some other exchange students before the intro started, which was great! A lot of people showed up on the first day, everyone looking just as terrified as I felt – being in a new country all by myself and all – which made it really easy to make friends! Me and another Danish girl from CBS, Tina, were late for the campus-tour (great start!), but however stupid it may sound, it made people notice us and then at least we had an icebreaker for conversation. If you just show an interest in people and try to socialize as much as possible (even though it might be easier said than done for some people), there are tons of social activities in the first couple of weeks with the other exchange students. I don’t think I spent a single day alone for the first couple of weeks – the social life is absolutely amazing! When it comes to making friends with Australians it does require a bit more effort, since most of them have friends and family here, and therefore are not in the same situation as you. However, with that said, they are extremely friendly and if you just approach them, you can easily make friends with natives!
Do you like living in Australia?
I love it here! Melbourne is a multi-cultural city, with a great mix of Asian and European culture – making it feel a bit like home sometimes. There are many different suburbs, each with their own charm and culture. The people living here are very relaxed and easy-going! Everyone is really approachable and friendly, which makes it a lot easier when you first arrive in a new country. And even though we think we’re a small country, they love Danes – mostly because of Crown-princess Mary, but still!
Have you had any difficulties with the language?
I had to get used to some of the Australian slang at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that difficult. Some of my lecturers are Indian, and have a very strong accent – which I found hilarious in the beginning, but it gets kind of annoying in the long run. Other than the weird accent now and then, keeping up with the English is not an issue at all.
What is accommodation like? Do you have to find your own or does the school offer housing?
I was told from friends back home that I should wait till I got here with finding accommodation, which I’m really glad I did. The on-campus accommodation is pretty good, but it is also quite expensive compared to what you get. I’m renting a big room in an 8-bedroom house in a great location, for approximately the same price as the on-campus housing. I fell in love with one of the more expensive ones; however, you can easily find accommodation that is cheaper, as long as you’re willing to compromise on the quality. I attended a couple of viewings that didn’t match the description AT ALL, so I would definitely recommend to wait until you get here with finding a room.
What electives are you taking and do you like them?
I’m taking ‘Strategic Human Resource Management and Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Buyer Behavior’ as electives. I don’t really like my lecturer in the first elective, but the unit itself is really interesting and my tutorial teacher is great, so I do feel that I’m gaining new knowledge. Buyer Behavior is by far my favorite unit here – the lecturer is great; she manages to make it both fun and educational!
What are the biggest differences between CBS and Swinburne?
The fact that we have a tutorial for every lecture, and that you have to engage actively in class discussions. And then of course the grading system – it’s not like CBS where the final exam is worth 100%, here it’s distributed over the semester.
What have been your coolest experiences so far?
River rafting and snowboarding in New Zealand! Over the mid-semester break I went to the South Island of New Zealand for 9 days, and it was the best vacation ever. Beautiful and unspoiled landscape everywhere! We went white river rafting one of the days, and it was the coolest experience I’ve had during my semester (except for surfing – which is so much fun as well!). Even though I’ve been snowboarding in Europe, it can’t compare with the view in New Zealand. We went skiing at a place called Lake Ohau – no people on the slopes, fresh powder, sunshine and an amazing view – most unique snowboarding experience of my life!
Why should other CBS students go to Australia for exchange?
Because I’m having the time of my life here, and I’m certain that anyone else would too! It might seem like a lot of effort before you get here – and you start questioning whether or not it’s worth it (I know I did!) – but going on exchange in Melbourne is, without a doubt, the best decision I’ve made during my time at CBS.