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We were recently honoured and proud to learn that Sonia Ortega was named a finalist for the Premier of NSW’s Export Awards. Each year, the awards are announced to recognize individuals and companies that work to export Australian innovation, ideas and culture around the world and we are proud to do that through our work with the homestay and international student community.

The pool of applicants for this year’s award was larger than any pool in the award’s 53 year history and there were 85 finalists selected. The award ceremony will be held on 28 Octobrer at the Star, at Pyrmont in Sydney. Attending will be the Hon. Mike Baird MP, Premier of NSW, Minister for Western Sydney and The Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, Member for Penrith, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Minister for Sport.

Lisa McAuley, Chief Executive Officer for the Export Council of Australia said “What is pleasing to see from the 2015 finalists is the diversity of the companies that entered the awards this year. There were fantastic submissions from a range of industry sectors, which show how important sectors such as services and ICT are for future trade development in Australia,” Ms McAuley said.

As part of the lead up to the awards ceremony at the end of October, Global Experience has joined other companies in participating in the ECA’s “Around the World in 80 Deals” campaign. Showcasing what Australian organisations are doing to export values and ideals around the globe, this social media campaign allows us to share some of our greatest success stories through Twitter.

Look for posts from Global Experience on Twitter with the hashtag #80deals and make sure to follow @aussieexport to see all of the entries from other finalists and participants. Global Experience will continue to post there weekly throughout the month with stories of its many successful students and outreach overseas.

You can learn more about the awards on the Export Council’s website here and make sure to stay in touch on Twitter and throughout our other social media channels to learn more about the awards, their finalists and the eventual winners.

If you are an international student preparing for a semester overseas in Australia, Sydney and Melbourne offer a number of fantastic options to help you acclimate to a new country, explore new opportunities overseas, and learn about a different culture. However, you may have some questions about the process of finding a homestay and ensuring it’s a good fit with the family you end up staying with.

Here is some basic information about the process and a few of the things you should keep in mind while preparing for your homestay in Sydney or Melbourne.

Choosing the Best Option for You

If you plan on staying in Australia for a semester overseas, there are a number of options to choose from. Standard homestay is very popular because it offers the opportunity to explore a new country with the support of a local family, but there are options as well, including:

  • Getting a student apartment
  • Sharing a house with other students
  • Choosing a VIP homestay

Before choosing an option for your stay, consider what will be most important to you on your trip. Are you eager to learn more about Australian culture, visit local Sydney or Melbourne landmarks, or focus primarily on your education in one of Australia’s universities? The end goal of your time will likely determine which of these makes the most sense for you.

How Homestay Works

If you do choose homestay, there are a number of benefits to the program. You’ll receive a room of your own with access to all of the amenities you would need – including bed, desk, chair, storage for clothes and possessions, two meals a day with the host family, and a third meal on the weekends if you are at home.

You also get a number of options such as shared accommodations in a homestay setting, laundry access and quick access to transportation. We, for example, ensure all of our host families are within 45 minutes via public transportation of the school at which you are studying.

Is Homestay Right for Me?

Depending on what you’re looking for from your time spent overseas, there are a number of benefits to homestay. If you are interested in learning more about how it works, who you might be staying with, and what other things you should consider when staying overseas, contact Global Experience and ask to learn more about our homestay opportunities for students like yourself.

A trip overseas to Sydney or Melbourne is a once in a lifetime experience. It is one of the most memorable things you’ll ever do, so it’s easy to let logistics fall through the cracks. When on a budget especially, things like where and what you’ll eat can become issues you don’t plan for in advance.

For those preparing to study overseas or who are currently in Australia studying for a semester or two, here are seven quick and easy meal tips for those long days when you need to keep your energy up.

Turn a Piece of Bread into a Feast

Take a piece of bread and you can do just about anything to it. To start, there’s pizza, for which all you’ll need is a bit of tomato sauce out of a can and cheese with a handful of herbs. Toss it in a pan and voila, you have pizza bread. The best part is you can add almost anything to it and have a meal of your choosing.

The Unlimited Variety of Salad

Salad sure sounds boring, but if you get creative, a head of lettuce turns into a nearly limitless meal option. Visit one of Melbourne’s many markets and get some vegetables and fruit to create your perfect lunchtime arrangement. Any vegetables, some light meats, and a mixture of lemon juice, sugar, honey, or event nuts and berries make for a perfect mid-day meal on the go.

Noodle Mixtures on the Go

Avoid the high-sodium calorie bombs that are instant noodles. They may be quick and inexpensive, but they can wreak havoc on your health. The noodles themselves, however, are a good starter for a quick meal. Add your choice of egg, fresh vegetables or deli meats to the hot noodle soup and you have a quick easy to make meal when on the go.

Save at the Grocery Store

Shopping can be intimidating when in another country, especially when on a budget. Make sure to research your options in Sydney or Melbourne before you head out. If you are staying with a host family, go with them on their next shopping trip.

ALDI is a popular destination because of their low prices and streamlined size and layout, though you’ll need to bring your own bags. Also, make a list in advance of what you’re looking for – even if the store doesn’t have those items, your list will help you ask for assistance if needed.

Carry Health-Smart Snacks

Being in a rush can lead to some poor dining decisions. Pizza four times a week can be a quick formula for weight gain and sluggishness. Carry lightweight, health-conscious snacks in your bag at school and while exploring the city to ensure you don’t overdo the unhealthy foods. Nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, crackers, crackers, or even raw vegetables and fruit are a perfect fit for hours out of the house.

Plan Ahead and Eat Smart

If you plan ahead and prepare by researching what’s available and exploring nearby stores and markets, you can have an enjoyable, low-cost dining experience during your stay in Sydney or Melbourne. And don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from host families or fellow students who may have experience in your position trying to save money and eat healthy.

Photo Courtesy:

Every year, organisations like Study NSW recognise individuals, businesses, and groups that do amazing things for the international student community. The opportunities and support provided to those students, the outreach completed by the organisations that are named as finalists and how they interact with the community as a whole. 

We are very proud of the Global Experience team as together we deliver a service which makes a huge difference into international students’ lives while studying in Sydney. It is a real honour to be recognised for what we are so passionate about and are excited for the upcoming event at Sydney Opera House. This year, Study NSW will be announcing their winners at an invitation only ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday, 13 October, 2015. We are excited to be a part of that event and wish all of the other finalists the best of luck.

For this year’s awards, the NSW International Student Awards will be given to three categories with 18 total students and organisations nominated across all three:

  • International Student of the Year (ELICOS, Higher Education, Schools, VET)
  • International Student Community Engagement – Business/Community Groups
  • International Student Community Engagement – Education Provider

It’s an exciting opportunity for all those nominated and we’re incredibly proud and excited to be among those so honoured.

Recently named the world’s most liveable city for the second year in a row, Melbourne is on a roll. This gem of Australia’s south doesn’t get the press or the airtime that Sydney does for international travellers, but it arguably has just as many if not more exciting things to do as its neighbour to the north.

Here are five such things you should seek out on your next trip to Melbourne, whether you are a student or simply visiting from elsewhere in the country.

Eureka Skydeck

Can’t quite envision Melbourne’s skyline? Visit the Eureka Skydeck and you’ll never forget it. As the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform, the Skydeck is the perfect way to get a brilliant look at every corner of the city as well as the area beyond. It’s a beautiful experience on its own, but it will also help you explore the city by getting your bearings and possibly spotting new pockets or areas you want to visit.

The tickets allow you to visit twice in a single day as well, so you can view during the day, enjoy the city, and then return at night for an even more beautiful night-time view of the city.

The Dandenong Ranges

Just an hour east of the CBD is the Dandenong Ranges. The mountain range is famous for the Mountain Ash trees it is home to as well as a breathtaking view of the nearby countryside. There is also a gauge railway ride through the ranges and numerous smaller tours you can take of the region on your visit.

Queen Victoria Market

Melbourne is famous for its markets, of which there are four located throughout the city, but the biggest and best known of the bunch is Queen Victoria Market, located on the corner of Victoria Street and Elizabeth Street in the heart of the city.

Here you’ll find a huge number of things to keep you busy – an international mix of cultures, foods, and goods, numerous dine-in café experiences and more right in the midst of the city.

Philip Island

Technically not in Melbourne, but only two hours away driving south of the city, Philip Island is one of the area’s most famous destinations, home to the Little Penguin colony as well as the Koala Conservation Centre. Also here are Churchill Island where you can find a working historical farm, and The Nobbies – a headland stretch with iconic boardwalks.

There are numerous pass options for entry to Phillip Island, but the best bet is the 3 Park Pass and there are coach trips to Phillip Island to make it easier to reach.

The Shrine of Remembrance

Located at Kings Domain Parkland on St. Kilda Road, The Shrine of Remembrance is a monument to Veterans of wars throughout the history of Australia. It’s also located in the centre of the city and serves as a good starting point for any day or multi-day trip to Melbourne.

Nearby you’ll be able to visit the Botanical Gardens and Government House and it’s a quick walk to just about every other CBD attraction.

Preparing for Your Visit to Melbourne

If you’re preparing for a trip to Melbourne, there are a number of things you should put on your “must see” list for that trip. The five listed above are a great starting point, but there are many more that make this truly one of the world’s great cities.

Photo Courtesy: Erika @haphopper

Studying abroad in Sydney presents a wealth of opportunities for you to travel and explore all that Australia has to offer. But don’t get so caught up in the idea of traveling around the rest of the country that you miss out on some great day trips close to home. Sydney is a remarkable city, and it’s also home to many of the most fun and interesting places to visit in Australia.

Sydney Opera House

You can’t come to Australia, especially if you’re living right in Sydney, and not visit the Opera House. This iconic building sits at the tip of Bennelong Point as it extends out into Sydney Harbour. It’s also not far from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which includes a pedestrian pathway you can take full advantage of to get some great shots of the Opera House as well as the harbour and the surrounding area.

Of course, you can take a tour of the Opera House itself, which is one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world. It’s also one of the most recognisable buildings, and it’s home to the Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Ballet, and Opera Australia.

And if you really want to get an authentic Opera House experience, you can even attend a performance in one of the various venues. These include spaces as diverse as the 2,679-seat concert hall, the 210-seat Utzon Room, an Outdoor Forecourt, and several in between.

Bondi Beach

Chances are you’ll spend lots of time at Bondi Beach and won’t have to make a special trip. But even if surfing and sunbathing aren’t your thing, this popular beach a few miles from the centre of Sydney is worth visiting, if only for a day. You can, of course, take surfing lessons, and safe zones for swimming are marked off as well.

You can also take the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk to take in the panoramic views and stunning sandstone cliffs that run along the coast in this part of Australia. From start to finish, this walk should take you about an hour and a half, although you may want to stop on the way for a quick dip in the ocean or just to sit and take in the view.

And if your day at the beach leaves you with a pretty big appetite, there are plenty of great restaurants close by. Brown Sugar offers up excellent brunch and a diverse bistro menu, while Bondi’s Best provides plenty of great seafood and sushi options. Or if you’re in the mood for a traditional Italian meal, Bondi Tratt has all the classic dishes you’re looking for, plus great views to enjoy while you’re eating.

Blue Mountains

Just a short bus ride from Sydney is Blue Mountains National Park, which offers hiking trails for visitors of all skill and ability levels. There are also walking tracks, which keep to relatively flat terrain but still provide you with wonderful exposure to the beauty of the area. And for the more adventurous or experienced, there are opportunities for rock climbing and canyoning as well.

In addition to the great views, a visit to the Blue Mountains will give you the chance to learn a bit more about Aboriginal culture, and you really will see some spectacular scenery. If you’re tempted to make this more than a day trip, there are camping grounds available as well.

These are just a few of the great day trip options that will be available to you when you’re studying abroad in Sydney. But whether you choose to take these trips, or you decide to put something a little different on your itinerary, there are many wonderful experiences to be had right in the city and in the surrounding areas.

Whether you’ve always known you wanted to study overseas or you just made the decision to give it a try, you probably have an idea in your head about what it’s like. And while you may not be totally wrong in many of your assumptions, there are undoubtedly certain things you haven’t thought of or don’t know you need to be prepared for.

Daily Expenses and Budgeting

One big shock, especially when studying in Australia, can be how quickly your seemingly simple daily expenses add up. It’s a good idea to research ahead of time how much things cost and come up with a realistic budget for yourself that includes enough to keep you comfortable while also allowing you to do all of the things you’re interested in.

When you’re spending so much time in a new part of the world, it’s a great opportunity to travel and explore all that the area has to offer. But you can’t do this if you don’t have the money, and you really won’t have the money unless you plan for it ahead of time.

Local Banking

Going hand in hand with budgeting is the importance of having easy access to your funds. Since you’re going to be staying for a while, it’s a good idea to find a local bank and set up an account so that you can take out cash whenever you need it without repeatedly having to pay the service or conversion fees that may be required if you continue using your bank back home. In order to do this, you’ll have to make sure you have everything required to open an account with you, and that takes some forethought as well.

Actual Climate

No matter how sure you are that you know how people dress in Australia and what you want to bring with you, it’s a good idea to check out the actual weather and research how it will change over the course of your stay. You may be surprised by the variety, and you also have to remember that seasons in the southern hemisphere occur at opposite times of year than they do in the north, so you need to pack accordingly or you may wind up blowing your entire budget on a new wardrobe.

What to Bring and What to Buy

Along these same lines, it’s important to think about which things are best to bring from home, and which will be easier to purchase once you arrive. Clothes and a variety of shoes are a good starting point when you’re packing. But toiletry-type items, makeup, and sunscreen are not really worth the trouble or the space they take up, as you can almost certainly find something comparable upon arrival.

No matter what you decide to bring, though, it’s important to plan it out ahead of time. If you just start throwing things in a suitcase, chances are you’ll wind up with an unwieldy amount of stuff, and most likely, not the things you actually need.

It’s Hard to Come Back

One of your main worries as you prepare for your trip may be how you’ll survive for so long without the comforts of home that you’re used to and without seeing your family and friends. But what you may not anticipate is that, once you’ve gotten into a routine here and started building new relationships, time will go by very quickly. Before you know it, it will be time to head home, and whether you believe it now or not, you’ll have a hard time saying good bye.

How Where You Live Shapes Your Experience

You may already realise you have several options for where to live and who to live with when you’re studying in Australia. But you may not have thought about how the choice you make in this area will shape your entire experience here. For instance, staying on campus will almost certainly limit you to hanging out with other international students, and while you may meet some great and interesting people, you won’t really get an authentic Australian experience by any means.

Living in an apartment can give you a much better chance of immersing yourself in Australian culture, especially if you’re inclined to put yourself out there socially and work to get to know your neighbours. But if you don’t think you’re that type of person, and you want to really experience Australia, staying with a local family may be your best option for getting as much out of your time overseas as possible.

Emergency Plans

Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with an actual emergency situation while you’re studying overseas, but it’s always best to be prepared. That means researching how to summon emergency help, as well as knowing where your embassy is and how to get there in a crisis situation.

Studying overseas, no matter where you decide to go, can be a wonderful and truly life-changing experience. But in order to get the most possible out of your time away, you really need to do some research and planning ahead of time. Knowing what to expect and what you want to accomplish can make all the difference once you’ve actually started out on your journey.

Photo Courtesy: Taylors College, Melbourne -

Hosting an exchange student is a wonderful opportunity to share your love of your own country, as well as to learn about different ways of life and cultures. But not every student will be the best fit for every host family, and vice versa. In order to make everyone’s experience as positive and enriching as possible, it’s important to consider several different elements from both the host’s perspective and the student’s.

Activities and Interests

Since you’ll essentially be taking a stranger into your home, it’s nice if there are some areas of interest or activities that you can bond over quickly. For instance, if you like the outdoors and frequently go hiking, camping, fishing, or surfing, pairing you with a student who also enjoys these or similar things is a great way to get things started.

On the other hand, failure to take into account a lack of common interests can lead to a frustrating experience for both parties. To use the same example, placing a student who doesn’t enjoy the outdoors, or who has medical limitations that don’t permit them to engage in some of these types of activities, with a family that spends all their time outside will make things harder for everyone involved.

Practical Household Considerations

The makeup of your household will also have something to do with which student will make the best match, and this includes the number and type of pets you have, as well as any other children living with you and their ages.

When it comes to pets in particular, allergies to or the fear of certain animals may make your home a poor fit for some students. And you should never have the expectation that the student staying with you will share in the responsibility of caring for your pets. Of course, a student who enjoys animals and is placed in a home with them may want to help care for them, but it’s not something that should be forced on them.

Communication and Flexibility

While matching interests and personality types is an important part of creating a good host/student fit, a lot of what will eventually determine the quality of your relationship depends on what both of you bring into it. Clear and open communication is essential to building and maintaining a strong relationship with your student.

And to get things started off on the right track, it’s a good idea to lay out some basic house rules as soon as everyone gets settled. This will help limit the number of misunderstandings and make sure everyone is on the same page, especially since your student may be used to a different set of cultural norms

However, while it’s important to include your student in family activities and make sure that your expectations are clear, it’s not a good idea to try and dictate how they spend all of their time. Flexibility is essential, as this will most likely be a period of huge personal growth in their lives. As their host, you have a unique opportunity to support and nurture this growth, and that is best achieved by finding the right balance between structure and openness.

Photo: CreativeCommons Duncan Rawlings,

One of our missions is to continuously look for, work with, and support programs that make Australia a better place. We highlight these programs and charities on our WE LOVE page and strive to encourage you to share them with your community.

One such program that Global Experience is proud to be a supporter of is Hope 4 Health. The Hope 4 Health organisation is dedicated to improving the lives of indigenous populations by providing health services and training to women in these communities.

The Hope 4 Health Story

Hope 4 Health was founded in 2006 by students at Griffith University. At the time it was run by a handful of students and has since grown to a large organisation with more than 1,000 members covering a range of different disciplines in the health services industry.

The goal of these professionals is to eliminate the inequality that exists in the health care system in so many indigenous populations. Access to quality health care, awareness of health services and clinical skills, and access to necessary medications and treatments are all part of this mission.

Since the founding of the program Hope 4 Health has expanded into a number of new areas, launching new projects such as health screenings, mental health care, and birthing kits among many others.

How You Can Help

If you are interested in learning more about Hope 4 Health, you can visit their website here and learn about their mission and what they are currently working on in the community. They also have an up to date Facebook Page with upcoming events, including their annual Jazz Dinner.

You can also donate to Hope 4 Health through their site. 100% of the donations go to work on H4H projects, or you can become a member of the organisation and stay up to date on ways to participate. As a fully volunteer run organisation, there are always opportunities for you to get involved.

There are many benefits to studying overseas, and no matter where you go, you’re sure to create wonderful memories that will last you a lifetime. But studying in Australia offers some truly unique experiences, and there are many things about your time here that will stay with you long after you’ve returned home.

Natural Wonders

Australia is home to many wonders of the natural world, including the Great Barrier Reef, which is the only living thing on earth that you can see from space. The opportunity to explore this incredible ecosystem will expose you to many stunningly beautiful sites, and it’s not something you’ll soon forget.

But that’s far from the only thing Australia has to offer when it comes to natural wonders. Depending on your inclinations and the amount of time you have to explore, you can visit the Blue Mountains, MacKenzie Falls, The Pinnacles, and any number of diverse and exotic areas that are home to many species of animals you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Extreme Sports

If you’ve ever wanted to try surfing, scuba diving, or skydiving, studying in Australia gives you a great opportunity to learn, and the skills you pick up here, as well as the experience itself, will certainly stay with you once your time here is complete. While you can certainly learn to do these types of things in other parts of the world, the easy access and unbelievably beautiful backdrop the country provides will make for a genuinely unique experience.

Laid Back Lifestyle

One of the first things you may be struck by when you arrive in Australia is how laid back everyone is. While Australians take plenty of things seriously, we also do our best not to worry about the little things so we can enjoy life to the fullest. The more time you spend here, the more likely you are to pick up this attitude and outlook, which will never be a bad thing no matter where you are from or what path your life ultimately takes.

Wonderful Food

Just like many other things in Australia, the local food may not be exactly what you were expecting. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be extraordinary, and you’ll probably find yourself craving your favourite dishes long after you’ve returned home.

This goes for restaurant fare as well as some tasty store bought snacks like the famous Tim Tams. And while you may never develop the same kind of love for Vegemite as you do for the tasty chocolate treats, you’ll certainly learn to appreciate it.

New Friends

Probably the most important thing you’ll take away from your time in Australia is a wonderful new group of friends, made up of both locals and other international students. Especially if you stay with a family while you’re here, you’ll build a special bond that will truly last a lifetime, and that can make every part of your study overseas experience all the more intense and truly memorable.

Of course, this is just a general list of the types of things about Australia that are likely to make an impression on you. But all of the unique experiences and new memories you create during your time here will have a huge impact on the way you view the world and how you approach life after returning to your home country. And that’s exactly the way it should be.