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Martin's Master's abroad was an eye-opener

Martin At Blue Mountains Sydney

What brother does, is always right...

When Martin's brother married an Australian girl and decided to move Down Under, it wasn't a difficult decision for Martin to take his Master's degree in Brisbane. This is his story about his experiences on the other side of the world.

It all started with a wedding

Martin's dream to come to Australia actually started long before he even started university in Norway. His brother was studying at a university, and out of the blue an Australian girl swept away his feet. One thing let to another, and suddenly a wedding in Australia was arranged. 

“Actually it all started back in 2008. My brother met a girl, who is now his Australian wife, and that meant that I had to come to Australia for the wedding in 2018, and after that I decided to stay to do my Master’s. I had an idea in advance, that I wanted to study here so I prepared everything back home actually.

I looked at a lot of different universities, but a main criteria was that it should be located close by my family here, so I didn’t have to travel for hours to visit them. Secondly it had to offer the courses that I wanted, and Griffith was actually the only one in the area that had Human Resources as an option for my Master’s.” 

A tough goodbye and a good start in Brisbane

Because this development was something Martin had seen coming for a while, he started early on to discuss his potential move to Australia with his close friends and family. Because, as he says;

“I started to tell my friends and family a few years before to prepare them that I wanted to move overseas, so it didn’t come as a shock. It was a bit hard on especially my parents, who I have a close relationship with.”

But with the decision already made and the bags packed, Martin got onboard the flight that would take him around the globe where his brother's wedding and a Master's degree was waiting. And he got off to a good start.

"Well, first off, I lived on campus, which I believe was a good choice for a starter. In the beginning of every trimester, Griffith had 2 orientation weeks, where you get introduced to everything you need to know about campus and life at university. It’s kind of a big event to make new students feel welcome and to meet people and get friends. Besides that, there is an organization called SRC, and those guys have a budget for each trimester that they can spend on excursions like going to the beach etc. Everybody can join no matter if you’re a local or an international student. That was a great way of meeting new people, I think."

The daily life in Brisbane

The first thing for Martin to ensure was a good daily routine, that allowed him time to study as well as free time. 

"My daily life changed quite a bit with the pandemic, but prior to that, I chose my own classes so I only had to attend university Monday to Wednesday, and then had long weekends. I tried to keep a rhythm where I studied during the week until Friday, and then had free time every evening from 6pm and in the weekends of course. In the weekends it was all about beach trips, going to the city etc."

Besides getting used to a new daily rhythm, Martin also had to get used to a new every day in an environment that was much different from back home.

"Well, It was really hot! That's the first thing! And then the concept of studying is so much different from being in Norway, and this is to the positive side. Even though I had studied on the other side of the world in my second language, I actually feel like I have learned so much more than during my bachelor in Norway.

Firstly, in Norway we only have one exam at the end of the semester, where you’re supposed to remember the entire pensum, but in Australia it’s actually divided into 3. You’ll have one essay you have to write, you have one presentation and then one exam in the end. So if you screw up one of the 3 parts, it doesn’t count that much in the final grade, as the 2 other formats still counts up.

It also felt like that the teachers, or professors if you like, were much more into teaching. They had a really good way of teaching, and it’s my impression that there is much more competition to actually be a professor, so those that are hired, they do an excellent job."

So how is free time in Australia like?

It's probably something most people have in their considerations when deciding to study abroad. One thing is studying, but the other thing is the social part and the options for exploring. And according to Martin, Brisbane is the ideal place to get both things!

"It is so different from back home, and one of the things that I really noticed after moving here. Australians are so much more open than back home, and it’s way easier to get a conversation going compared to back home, where most people are more closed.

Another thing is, that there is so much to see in Australia, and especially during my first months here, I went on a lot of different trips. Everything was fresh and new, and I really wanted to experience things. Actually I bought my own car so I could go on trips whenever I wanted with my friends. As I said, we went to the beaches and did some hiking while exploring the nearby area."

"I especially remember one occasion in the beginning, before we actually became friends in the group I was hanging out with. We had known each other for a short while, and talked about doing something together, so I decided to set up a Facebook group for those that could be interested and here I proposed a certain trip to a National Park that I was planning to do. Eventually everybody joined, and since that day we just used that group to organize new events. This was the starting point for the group to really hang out and experience stuff together. Most of the people are actually still here in Australia, so I still see them from time to time."

Social life and how cultural differences makes an impact

Martin describes himself as en extremely outgoing type that loves to meet new people and converse with everyone. But even though this is your starting point, conversation and communication can be tricky if you don't share the same cultural uprising:

"I have realized that back home, we tend to be a bit picky on who we chose to spend time with, whereas in Australia you have a different mindset. Down here you tend to hug someone after the first time you’ve met, where you would keep much more social distance at home with new people. And I have started to do that myself, actually. I guess I became a “hugger”.

Another thing I came to realize here in Australia, is also how big importance social culture has to a person’s social behavior. Some cultures don’t induce talking when you’re not asked, some do to a much bigger degree, and it really depends on where you come from and what you’ve grown up with – that has been a big eyeopener now that I have interacted with people from all over the world, and it’s just something you learn to navigate in. People really do love to talk and interact, but they approach it very differently."

Finishing the studies and the challenges with finding a job

Martin finished his studies in Griffith, but rather than going home, he decided to stick around. A job in the HR field was the dream, and it wasn't long before he was offered a 3 month internship at a parcel company.

"My experience was, that it was very difficult to find a relevant job afterwards. I applied for a LOT of jobs in the HR field, where most required experience, which I obviously didn’t have being a recent graduate. But after spending 3 months as an intern in the HR field, I know understand why they need experience. What I learned in university is great, but there were so many other things I had no idea about and which was more or less impossible to learn in the university. Unfortunately they didn't have any openings in the HR department when my internship finished, so right now I am doing some parcel sorting, and yeah, that’s where I am right now.”

The tough decision about the future

What's going to happen next? It's something we've all been questioning from time to time, and Martin is no different. His future is still up in the air, and as he says:

"Well, my future is something that I have been thinking A LOT about the last six months. I really want both things, to go home and to be here in Australia, but I think that ultimately I will have to go back home, because I can’t live away from my parents forever. That’s the main thing that drives me home, and it is the real dealbreaker for me and Australia. But it wouldn’t mean that I wouldn’t come back, and actually my parents have talked about retiring in about 5 years, and maybe spent half of the year in Australia, which gives me a perfect option to come back. But I might as well wait down here, it's still undecided. One thing I know is, that I am no way done with my adventures abroad."

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