3 Months Downunder
Luminița Garaba (Romania), GEM 2014-2016
GEM offers students the chance to go to Australia. It’s not mandatory, it’s not for everyone, but it can be done. This is one of the key points that convinced me to apply to this master program and gladly accept the scholarship.
Though planning it was not easy, finding a suitable time for all students and universities, leaving some good time for writing the dissertation, it was done and both me and Toni, my Welsh friend, course mate and sometimes roommate set for the Southern Hemisphere on the first day of September. We had already agreed to make the best of the time spent there, to use all the time our visas allowed (that is 3 months) and to focus full time on our thesis work once we returned to Europe and became students of the University of Southampton.
Our stay began with exploring the beautiful and hectic Sydney, by walking every day to new places, amazed by how friendly people are and how long the traffic light waits. Before starting our course in Coastal Management, we went on a once-in-a-life-time trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and got to do scuba diving and snorkeling in the reef waters, saw some of the Australian tropical forest and indigenous population with their special and unfortunately underappreciated culture.
Next, we participated in one of the courses from the University of Sydney, Coastal Management, which meant working on the field (the shore of the Pacific Ocean, Seven Mile Beach) for 3 days – location, sedimentation, waves’ measurements – together with a small group of motivated students from 4 continents. Working on a presentation of our measurements and the conclusive report was the second part of our activity.
The last part of the Southern adventure meant visiting Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road and backpacking in New Zealand, an archipelago of great geographical complexity, through its volcanic mountains, geysers, glaciers and unique flora and fauna.
I have seen different cultures, felt new emotions, stepped in breathtaking landscapes, and all these have taught me perhaps more than most mandatory courses I have taken as a student. I cannot recommend enough for the partnership with University of Sydney to continue, and for the future GEM students to be encouraged and supported to spend part of their master in Australia.