Friday, 8 July 2011

A day trip to Fremantle

I've just got back to uni from a trip to Fremantle.  This was a coach trip for new international students to see the area around Perth.  First we went to Kings Park in Subiaco.  This is a viewpoint overlooking the Swan River and Canning River.  It was truly spectacular.  Huge, wide rivers.  I used to live right next to the River Thames, where it was a mile wide, but these rivers made that look small by comparison.  We could see the Bell Tower, which was gifted to Perth by the British Government after WWII to recognise the contribution of Australian forces.  We were also at the site of multiple Australian war memorials.  Richard, a photography student, commented that the light was different in Australia.  He has had to alter the shutter speed on his camera as the light is brighter than in the UK.  I am fortunate that my camera has autofocus so I don't need to fiddle about - the camera deals with the automatically.  But I am aware the light is brighter here.  I am constantly wearing sunglasses and sunhat, and we are approaching the depths of winter.

Then we moved on to Cottesloe - a lovely beach environment, with promenade.  This was like a small version of Frinton-on-Sea for those who know Essex. 

Finally we moved on to Fremantle, for lunch and most of us had fish and chips.  This area appears to have a several museums which I will find interesting on another trip, and a very clean harbour/marina area.   On the way back along the main road, I saw a postman delivering mail.  But the interesting thing was, he was riding a Post Office moped, on the pavement, putting post in people's postboxes which are situated at the boundary, but when the box was half way up the drive, he would ride across their garden on his bike!

The conversations I have had about college fees are very interesting and put UK fees into perspective.  Currently UK fees are #3,000 per year, for full time study.  They are increasing to up to c#9,000 soon.  As an exchange student from the UK, if I travel for one semester, I am charged full home fees, or if I travel for the whole year, I am charged half fees (illogical but true for some obscure government funding reason).  So financially, an exchange is a good deal for me. International students in the UK pay #8,000, considerably more than home students.

International students at Curtin, who are not on an exchange, pay $10,000 per semester!!  Quite a few are doing their whole degree, ie 3 years, studying at Curtin.  I spoke to a girl from Norway studying journalism, who said the government loan system there is similar to the one in the UK.  You can get a loan for fees, repaid once you graduate and are earning above a certain level.  But can you imagine ending up with $60,000 of debt (#40,000) !!  And that's just fees!  Not living costs!  No wonder nearly all international students have a part time job, and the induction lecture warned strongly against working more than 15 hours a week (20 hours is the max). 

Given what I've described above, it is unsurprising that most international students are studying "sensible" degrees which will increase employability and possibly salary.  The most popular are Business and Finance, Journalism, Environmental Studies and Public Health Administration. I have not met anyone else doing an arts subject (unsurprisingly).  I wonder what type of people I will meet on my course?

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