Great Ocean Road

About a week before I was leaving for Australia to live there for six months, I started thinking “What on Earth have I done, or let myself in for?”

As scary as it was, I didn’t have to worry about my semester abroad as it turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life.

I lived in the European capital of Australia: Melbourne. I had been to other areas down under before, so I noticed immediately how the vibe was different.

Few people in the UK realise this because of Sydney being more apparent in the media, but Melbourne, with its quirky atmosphere, is considered trendier. It is actually the only place in Australia to have Topshop. Need I say more?

St Kilda was a particularly interesting area, appealing to my sweet tooth with cake shops abound and boutiques aplenty! Instead of the modern feel of Sydney, Melbourne consists of older looking, more historical buildings, giving it a depth of character more relatable to us British, with history ingrained in every nook and cranny.

For the first few months, the weather oozed stereotypical Australian sun. What to do in such heat? Go on a road trip with your new-found friends and relax on some beaches on the Great Ocean Road, of course.

Rarely in England could I roll down all the windows of the car due to the sharp wind, my hair going everywhere so my face became undistinguishable and items of rubbish going on a collision path with said face.

On the Great Ocean Road, the warm air was pleasant and the prospect of rubbish seemed not to exist in this natural beauty. The wind still had the same ideas about my hair, but it was more of a windswept, surfer look. At least, that’s the story I’m sticking with.

More people should be familiar with the Great Ocean Road. It has amazing views of the ocean, every colour bright and proud, and rock formations such as the 12 Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Gorge are stunning and breathtaking. Waterfalls amongst rainforest-like surroundings such as Erskine Falls are the epitome of a serene environment, until you see danger warnings of snakes in the river.

If you’re lucky and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see koalas in the trees and kangaroos grazing. The entire time I kept on thinking, this place is exactly what Australia’s all about.

When April rolled around, I was obsessed with the sun and I followed the heat up the East Coast. I went to the Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Brisbane.

If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t have too much to say on the Gold Coast. The beaches were lovely, but the scene of the city Surfers Paradise was a bit on the tacky side for my liking. However, if all you want is to get hammered and end up in a grotty club, look no further. Byron Bay was my highlight, as the rumour of Australians as really chilled surfers just loving life was true.

Sydney, secluded parts of the state of Victoria, more living as a Melbournite and even a trip to Bali were also crammed into my overwhelming first half of 2012.

Almost all of what I was experiencing throughout my time in Australia was the student experience of the country, which I am beyond grateful for, as it was a once in a life time opportunity.

If you have the slightest chance to study abroad, grab onto it. You’ll meet fascinating people and open your mind to new cultures. It’s unlike anything else.