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Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Chicago, Illinois
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Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Hey TA -

Long time reader, first time poster. I'm leaving for Wollongong in mid-July to study at University of Wollongong for a semester. While I have some family and friends who are coming to visit me and the rest of the South Pacific, I'm more interested in what life is like in Wollongong.

One of the main factors in my final decision of the 'Gong' was the beaches, mountains, and other beautiful natural landscapes around the area. I've read through a number of posts (pretty much all of them) and have a pretty good idea of what to expect, but what do locals like best about the environment around them?

On a similar note, aside from the environment, what are some favorite pastimes and places to go while living in Wollongong?

Also, I'm told that internet access at UOW is mainly for school purposes. Are there coffee shops or other similar businesses near the University that have free or cheap internet access?

Thanks in advance, looking forward to hearing more about my new "home"!

17 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

As with all places macdonald's has free net.

Most of the students from UOW are into the beaches but there is also some Mountain Biking on offer....which is one of the great beauties of the area....

Which course are you doing?

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Environmental Studies, so nature is definitely a priority for my time in Australia.

I'm thinking about renting/buying a bike while I'm there for the semester for easy transportation.

Also glad to see McDonalds helping the internet users of the world :)

South Pole
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3. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

seeing u r not getting a lot of replies i thought this link may help a little.

visitnsw.com/area/Wollongong_and_Surrounds.a…

Wollongong...
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4. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Mattman,

being a 'Gong resident and UOW graduate I applaud your choice.

The 'Gong has somewhat of a country town feel, most of its residents were born here, which also means it can be a bit insular and seem difficult to know for outsiders. That said, the university has a very large community that is used to visiting students and the students I have met enjoy there time here immensely.

As you have noticed most people love the beaches and ours are exceptionally good and safe. However, you will find for most of your time here that the water is fairly cold (less than 18C), at least untill November, so most people in the water at that time are surfers with light wetsuits. So unless you like a chilly dip, dont count on lazy days in the water.

Dont bother packing thermal underwear, its not that cold but some wind-proof clothing is essential, the cool, dry southwesters in Aug-Sept can bite. In general the days from Sept through Nov can be spectacular, crystal clear and cool, great biking weather, especially if its not windy.

By all means buy or hire a bike, the city caters quite well for cyclists, there are extensive cycle paths. There are also some very good mountain biking paths that start not far from the University.

Another feature many of us like here is the proximity to Sydney, its 90 min by train so a day trip is easy. So you have the all the attractions of the city without actually having to live there.

If you're into sports then you will be well catered for at the Uni and in the city, Wollongong is a sport mad place. You might find an American Football game hard to find but there is good support for Baseball and Basketball and an amateur league in both sports if you want to play.

Let me know what other info you are after and Ill do my best to point you in the right direction

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

yes Rennie has summed up wollongong beautifully. I think us locals-in your age group which I don't know yet will all be pretty friendly and will take you under their wing and make you feel comfortable.

You will find you will be able to buy a bike reasonably easily and cheaply at garage sales in the area near the uni. Put it this way I have 2 adult bikes sitting in the shed almost new never ridden lol.

If you love the pub scene you wil not have a a problem finding your way to the North gong hotel, and before you know it you will be spending days at Minamurra falls with new found buddies. :)

Ask more questions and we can help.

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Wow. My mom is an avid reader of the forums and has gotten some great advice for our past trips from here, I can tell why.

I'm 21, and am an amateur beer-enthusiast, so the pubs will be frequented. Also glad to see that I can get a relatively cheap bike, as I'd rather take that around town than have to wait for buses or walk.

Wollongong is sounding more and more like the perfect place to spend a semester. I'm starting to get into photography so having a new canvas will be a treat.

Sports are always good. I'm a golfer, but I'm excited about checking out a few rugby matches and what not.

Rennie - Surfing is also something I'd like to try to get a taste of. Are there board shops where I could rent a board and wetsuit towards Sept/Oct/Nov?

I also get the feeling that the weather is like our Fall here in Chicago. Some of the colder days are in the 40s (Fahrenheit) and gets up to around the 60s, so I'll pack accordingly.

Oceania - From what I've been reading (Bill Bryson has a great recap of his time throughout Australia in his book "In a Sunburned Country") there is a very easy going vibe in Australia, similar to the Caribbean - my grandmother used to live there, and I thoroughly enjoyed each visit. Glad to hear the locals of Wollongong are so welcoming :D

A couple of questions - I was tinkering with the idea of getting a part time job at a local pub, to make some extra cash and meet more people. What's the employment situation like there?

Is there an age requirement to rent a car? Just a thought if a few friends and I end up wanting to do some exploring without the aid of trains or buses. Also, is gas as expensive there as it is in the States?

I'll have more questions I'm sure, but I'll leave it there. Thanks again!

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

There are a few very good public golf courses around, two are just up the escarpment at Maddens Plains on opposite sides of the road, but you would need a car to get up there.

It will be cheaper to buy a second hand board and probably buy a wetsuit from KMart etc if you plan to surf a few times. There's a board hire place in Thirroul I think.

Drinking on campus, the Unibar seems to feature a lot, some good bands etc at very reduced prices (so says GS)

Car Hire here depends on the company, many are 25+ due to insurance issues.

the 40 (4c) is the overnight temp 60 (15) is the normal but usually during July August.

You could easily see days in the 70s and by Nov, 80s will be the norm.

Pub jobs in the Gong are not easy to come by. Large student population looking for part time stuff. GS has tried for a few. You will need to do a Responsible Service of Alcohol and Responsible Gambling course first. Cost about $80 and two full days of your time.

Many of the UOW students have access to a car (esp from southern sydney) as the transport down from here although only 40mins is timed poorly for lectures (trains leave at 3.30 eg and lectures finish at the same time so by the time you wait for the next train you're home). So hiring might not be necessary unless of course you are referring to a group that is coming with you.

Petrol (not gas) is very expensive relatively to the US. Around $1.50Litre. I'll let you convert that one to gallons ;) You have start being metrified! The free bus service is actually prettygood

Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Metrified :) I'll start working on my conversions. Pre-Study Abroad homework I guess.

Thanks for the golf/surf/jobs info.

In terms of cars, I was just reading about the great ocean road and a few of the other beautiful highways that you have and was just toying with the idea of maybe heading down to some. 25 is the minimum age here, so that wasn't too much of a shocker.

Also, my parents are coming down to visit me during break. A few questions regarding that - I'm pretty sure they need visa's (even if they're only coming for 2-3 weeks). But for all of us, if we plan to travel to NZ/Fiji/Bali, will we need to get separate visa's from Aus?

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9. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Um...do you mean in the 2-3 weeks they want to go to NZ, Fiji and Bali? Or are you planning these as separate trips or after your semester has finished?

They're all a bit too far to just go for the weekend. NZ and Fiji are 3 hours each way and quite pricey.

GOR is close to a 2 day drive each way....not something you could do in a weekend unless you fly to Melbourne.

Are you here for only 1 semester? You'll only get 1 week off in the mid term, so are planning to holiday after?

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Studying abroad at UOW from July - Nov

Your parents will need ETAs (Electronic Travel Authorities) to enter Australia. Have a look at the government website:

http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/tourist/976/

If they're planning to come back to Australia with you after visiting NZ/Fiji, they will be able to re-enter on their ETAs and then head home from here.

If you're going to be studying here only for a semester, it looks like you'll be on a subclass 575 (student) visa (which last for the duration of your course). That visa will permit you to make multiple entries to Australia, so it will cover the return from the Pacific trip with your parents. You should, of course, check this out with the immigration department:

www.immi.gov.au/students/students/chooser/

Being from the Illawarra region, and having read about your interests, I'm sure you'll find plenty of things around here to keep you distracted from your studies.

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