Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Year in Review: Best Student Blog Posts of 2011

The new year is upon us and 2011 is rapidly coming to a close. What did the year bring to the Embassy of Australia Education Team? Awesome bloggers and insightful student blog posts! Check out a few of our top picks:

1. Paroma wraps up her first Semester Down Under with this blog post and covers all of the big topics: studies, cost, homesickness, making friends… all of it!

2. Katie reflects on what international education means to her and how studying abroad in Australia has impacted her both inside and outside the classroom. Click here to read more

study abroad Australia student room housing

Student housing at the University of Technology, Sydney

3. If you’re curious about what student housing looks like in Australia, Ashley provides a virtual tour of her Aussie digs here. Pretty nice, huh?

4. Student blogger Lilach writes about how the grading system in Australia can sometimes throw North American students for a loop. What’s an HD, again? Find out here!

5. Marissa has some helpful tips if you’re looking to make the best of your semester in Australia; read them here.

Don’t forget to browse through our other student blogs here for more information about what it’s like to study in Australia — whether you’re curious about classes, lifestyle, social life, culture, or travelling.

And of course, we can’t possibly leave out our top blog posts! Revisit this year’s favourites below:

1. Rabbits in Australia: This is our most-read blog post, ever! All of our readers must really love bunnies…

2. Aussie Rules Football: Because who doesn’t want to learn more about playing footy?

3. Aussie Food: Get your grub on, Australia-style!

4. Future Unlimited Video Contest: Many of you loved watching student videos from this year’s Video Contest. Check out the winning entries and tell us what you think.

5. How to Deal With Homesickness: This post about battling the study abroad blues was also a popular read.

Lastly, Happy New Year from the Embassy of Australia Education Team — and thanks for reading!!



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Boxing Day in Australia

Kangaroo Boxing Gloves

Not this kind of Boxing Day

Boxing Day: no, not a day dedicated to celebrating Australia’s famous boxing kangaroo… This particular holiday, which takes place on 26 December, is observed by most countries in the Commonwealth (including Australia!).

Traditionally, Australians enjoy Boxing Day by relaxing with family and shopping for after-Christmas sales. Boxing day is also the start of the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Sounds like fun, right?

So why do Aussies (and Brits, and Canadians, and New Zealanders…) get the day after Christmas off, too? There are several competing stories as to where Boxing Day originated. Some historians claim that Boxing Day came around because the day after Christmas was when servants, who had spent the entirety of Christmas day ensuring other people’s celebrations were running smoothly, would receive presents and leftovers (…in BOXES!!) from their bosses and spend time with their families. Others think that the collection boxes for the poor which were placed outside of churches during the holiday season led to the creation of the holiday. The contents of the boxes would be distributed to the poor the day after Christmas.

Regardless of where the tradition comes from, it’s nice to get an extra day off!

What are YOU doing this holiday season? If you’re looking for something fun to pass the time, why not watch some videos about studying in Australia or read student blogs? It’s entertaining AND educational!

Happy Holidays from the Embassy of Australia Education Team!

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Christmas in Australia

Ever heard of Christmas in July? What is Christmas like in Australia, anyway?

Globe-trotting Santa makes it Down Unda’ every year to bestow gifts upon the nice boys and girls of Australia. And although Santa can never bring them a White Christmas — it is summer, after all — Australia has some fun Christmas traditions of its own.

Santa Australia Ute

Aussie Santa dreams about his ute (that's some Aussie slang for ya!)

First of all, a different climate means a different method of transportation for Santa. A sleigh may be well-suited to snowy landscapes, but in sunny Australian summertime, Santa prefers a boat or ute (utility vehicle) to get around and distribute presents.

Santa isn’t the only one making adjustments for the Aussie Christmas festivities — instead of celebrating indoors by the fireplace, families will often picnic outside (sometimes on the beach!), take a dip in the pool, or play some cricket. Instead of the traditional turkey roast popular in the Northern Hemisphere, a Christmas meal may consist of seafood and salad; those who prefer turkey or ham may eat it cold.

If you think that you can escape from the incessant and ubiquitous Christmas music found in North American shopping malls by traveling to Australia for the holidays, you’d be wrong — Aussies have Christmas carols of their own. They’ve even re-written the lyrics to Jingle Bells to reflect the Australian way to celebrate:  

Dashing through the bush,
in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust,
esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side
singing Christmas songs
It’s Summer time and I am in
my singlet, shorts and thongs!

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Why not try the Down Under version when you go caroling this year?

What other cultural activities can you take part in when you study in Australia? Click here to read more!


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5 New and Exciting Australian Inventions

Students in a research lab

Which of these students is the next Marty McFly?

Great Scott! Believe it or not, inventors of the world are not limited to living in classic 80s films involving flux capacitors and souped-up DeLoreans (although we must admit that in our eyes, Doc Brown can do no wrong). Did you know that Australia boasts inventors of its own? Here’s a list of the latest projects from some of the best and brightest. We know there aren’t any time machines, but these inventions are still pretty cool: 

1. A phone app that unlocks your hotel room. That’s right, no more looking frantically in purses and pockets for the little card that is probably demagnetized anyway. Your phone is the key!

2. A stress management system. Feeling frazzled? Freak out no more! This new, innovative system will help you maintain your zen by measuring your stress levels and helping you relax.

3. Super-healthy health foods. You probably don’t give a second thought to the health benefits of already-nutritious milk and juice, but what if they were even healthier? Soon, milk and juice packed with probiotics, omega-3s, vitamins and minerals will be a reality.

4. Cancer-fighting medicine for pets. Because protecting our cute, cuddly, and fuzzy companions is a priority, this invention helps sick puppies and kitties fight cancer, pain, and inflammatory diseases.

5. Database Clean-Up System. Curtin University knows that keeping data accurate and unpolluted is crucial to running a business — so why not keep things running smoothly with their brand-spankin’-new Data Quality and Integrity Toolkit?

Want to learn about even more Australian inventions? Click here for more info. If you’ve been hit by a stroke of genius and are keen to cook up your own invention,  click here to browse through a multitude of research projects taking place at Australian universities. Or find a complete list of Australian universities here!


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The 2011 Study Abroad in Australia Gift Guide

It’s December and the holiday season is upon us! Whatever you celebrate, you may be wondering how to bring a little Australian sunshine to this year’s festivities. Whether you’re shopping for a student who’s ready to embark on a semester Down Under or a friend recently returned from adventures in Oz (or maybe you just want some Aussie goodies yourself), here’s a list to satisfy a variety of tastes.

1. The Crocodile Hunter DVD Set: Give a passionate biology, veterinary, or zoology student an extra edge in class with this gift. Crikey, how educational!

2. Tim Tams and Milo: A present for the culinarily inclined student, or those particularly fond of Tim Tam Slams. What’s a Tim Tam Slam, you ask? Find out here.

3. Australian literary works: For the bookworm, Australian classics such as True History of the Kelly GangFly Away Peter or Coonardoo are perfect not just because they’re good reads — they also provide an inside look at Australian culture.

4. Sunblock, sunnies, and a hat: Essential for any student planning on spending time outdoors in Australia (whether on the beach or in the bush). Remember, “slip, slop, slap!”

5. Ugg Boots: Conversely, a student just returned from Australia may want to trade in those sunnies for some extra-warm footwear to brave the North American winter. Brrrr!

6. Australian music: For the rockstar student — some Aussie tunes! The Temper Trap, Xavier Rudd, Little Red, Empire of the Sun and Passion Pit are all good picks.

7. Australian movies: There are Aussie movies to fit every cinemaphile: Happy Feet (who doesn’t love cute dancing penguins), Australia (epic stories are always a win), Rabbit Proof Fence (cultural understanding is always a plus), and Muriel’s Wedding (for all those Toni Collette fans).

8. Clean Energy Gifts: Follow Australia’s leadership in sustainability and give the gift of green! These environmentally friendly gifts are sure to please the most Earth-conscious student.

9. Opals: There’s nothing quite like unwrapping something shiny and sparkly! Australia provides 97% of the world’s opals (which is its national gemstone).

10. Tickets to Australian Festivals: Australia has tons of festivals kicking off in the New Year, like Australia Day and the Sydney Festival. Why not get a student headed Down Under a couple of tickets to a cultural experience of a lifetime? Find a list of activities here.

Lastly, give the student who is heading Down Under the gift of preparedness — download our Pre-Departure Guide (for free! Right here!) for information on visas, traveling, housing, costs, and much much more.

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