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Old 10-14-2008, 03:36 AM
 
Location: Southern California
493 posts, read 420,093 times
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Hi! I'm a 19-year-old male college student in the USA. I attend UC Riverside, and I plan to study abroad next year in Australia, barring any cost issues, during spring semester 2010 (fall in Australia: Feb-July). I will be studying abroad through the University of California's Education Abroad Program. The only decision I have to make at this point is where in Australia to study. All the universities are located in great locations in each city, and they are all excellent academically. Also, I've found each city has good public transit. I'm trying to decide whether to study in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, or Sydney.

I'm Hispanic, but racism is not a concern of mine.

The pros and cons I've found so far:

If I go to Brisbane, I'll be at the University of Queensland.
Pros: Subtropical climate, close to the Gold Coast, lots of recreational opportunities in Brisbane/Gold Coast, some cultural/ethnic diversity.
Cons: Humidity might get old (SoCal doesn't have much of it), not as ethnically diverse

If I go to Melbourne, I'll be at the University of Melbourne.
Pros: Culturally/ethnically diverse, tons of cultural attractions, best public transit system
Cons: Cold and rainy, no good beaches

If I go to Perth, I'll be at the University of Western Australia.
Pros: Beautiful city, familiar Mediterranean climate, lots of good beaches and parks, some good cultural attractions, some cultural/ethnic diversity
Cons: Isolated; I won't get to see much of the rest of the country, cross-country airfare adds significantly to expenses, not as diverse as Sydney/Melbourne

If I go to Sydney, I'll be at the University of New South Wales.
Pros: It's Sydney. Enough said....ok maybe not...Beautiful city, great beaches, dynamic big city, good enough climate, lots to do, lots of diversity.
Cons: I feel like if I go to Sydney, I'll be "missing out" on the rest of Australia. The EAP orientation is in Sydney, so I'll be there for a few days even if I go to Brisbane, Melbourne, or Perth.

The following are pluses for any Australian city:

Agreeable climate: I've lived in Southern California my whole life, so I need a good climate to adapt to. Highs should be between 65-90 degrees F. Nothing significantly higher/lower, especially for weeks/months at a time.
Big-city nightlife (clubs, bars) and culture (especially museums, zoos, concerts, comedy scene)
Cultural/ethnic diversity
Easily accessible outdoor activities (especially hiking, national parks)
Gay-friendly (I'm a gay man so this matters: not too much into the scene at this point but a scene is a plus)
Good public transit, especially to the city center, beaches, and shopping centers
Nice beaches and city parks
Tons of shopping

Any input is greatly appreciated, especially from people who live in these cities and/or attended these universities!
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:37 AM
 
9,912 posts, read 12,912,667 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmexman View Post
...If I go to Melbourne, I'll be at the University of Melbourne.
Pros: Culturally/ethnically diverse, tons of cultural attractions, best public transit system
Cons: Cold and rainy, no good beaches


The following are pluses for any Australian city:

Agreeable climate: I've lived in Southern California my whole life, so I need a good climate to adapt to. Highs should be between 65-90 degrees F. Nothing significantly higher/lower, especially for weeks/months at a time.
Big-city nightlife (clubs, bars) and culture (especially museums, zoos, concerts, comedy scene)
Cultural/ethnic diversity
Easily accessible outdoor activities (especially hiking, national parks)
Gay-friendly (I'm a gay man so this matters: not too much into the scene at this point but a scene is a plus)
Good public transit, especially to the city center, beaches, and shopping centers
Nice beaches and city parks
Tons of shopping

Any input is greatly appreciated, especially from people who live in these cities and/or attended these universities!
**cough** **cough**

Well if you're coming here from Feb it will be just as hot in Melbourne if not hotter than other places around the country and you probably won't have to suffer the humidity that is present in other cities.
Not sure where the cold and rainy idea comes from but we are in a drought and probably the wettest months of the year here are September and October. But we actually receive less rainful than a lot of the rest of the country. It will cool down from about the end of April but it's still pretty comfortable.

And I object strongly to the "no good beaches" comment!
We have some great beaches here in Melbourne! And some of the most amazing coastal beaches in the country. You won't find anything as exciting as The Great Ocean Road in any of the other states mentioned.

We have a tonne of parkland, we're not called the Garden State for nothing and some fantastic National Parks right on the doorstep.
Our GLBT community is alive and thriving especially in the inner city. And you won't find better shopping in this country than in Melbourne.

I realize I'm probably biased but have you seen the Melbourne University campus? It's such a beautiful spot.

Anyway, if you have any questions I'm happy to answer, but personally, given all that you've mentioned here you really can't go past Melbourne.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
10,791 posts, read 7,988,839 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmexman View Post
Agreeable climate: I've lived in Southern California my whole life, so I need a good climate to adapt to. Highs should be between 65-90 degrees F. Nothing significantly higher/lower, especially for weeks/months at a time.
Big-city nightlife (clubs, bars) and culture (especially museums, zoos, concerts, comedy scene)
Cultural/ethnic diversity
Easily accessible outdoor activities (especially hiking, national parks)
Gay-friendly (I'm a gay man so this matters: not too much into the scene at this point but a scene is a plus)
Good public transit, especially to the city center, beaches, and shopping centers
Nice beaches and city parks
Tons of shopping

Any input is greatly appreciated, especially from people who live in these cities and/or attended these universities!
Go for Melbourne. Weather can be crap after April but don't worry about the weather, it's only for 6 months. Do the stuff that is reliant on weather during the first 3 months, then enjoy the vibrancy of Melbourne the rest of the time. I love Melbourne. But I live in Perth. Our weather is far better than Melbourne's, but I've realised that weather is a poor indicator of enjoyment of life.

Have fun. I wish you the best.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:15 AM
 
787 posts, read 1,600,621 times
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It's difficult trying to get an honest response from Australians as to which city to live in - the vast majority seem to see their city as their football team: it's the best and any other is awful. This happens with political preference, too.

As for your criteria, not many cities have above 90'F for more than a few days at a time, but I personally would choose Sydney or Perth in terms of weather - Brisbane gets very humid and Melbourne can get very cold (coffee scene is big there for this reason). I also should point out that this year, Brisbane's highest was around 40'C which lasted for half a day before it dropped to around 32'C (about 90'F). Perth, Adelaide and then Melbourne had a few days in a row of 40'C heat. It was hilarious.

Cultural diversity would probably be Sydney - it's usually the number one destination for immigrants, Melbourne not too far behind and Brisbane and Perth lagging in comparison, although Bris + Perth both still have many cultural groups.

Nightlife would be either Sydney or Melbourne as both have populations large enough for a good selection of bars and clubs while Perth and Brisbane are smaller so have a smaller selection.
Culture - Melbourne is regarded as Australia's cultural capital. Sydney's isn't as bad, either, but this definitely goes to melbourne.
Outdoor activities - generally most Australian cities are good for this (though you may need to do a small amount of driving to do some decent hiking/camping) and that's why we have a high incidence of skin cancer. I will warn you with regards to hiking that Australia is quite flat and our highest mountains are ~2.2 km's up and the snow/skiing is awful compared to other countries such as the US, so only go if you can't get over a need to go skiing and can't afford to go to New Zealand where the skiing is much better.

Gay friendly - Sydney hands down. It's our San Francisco - has the highest percentage of gay people out of all our cities and the "gay and lesbian mardi gras," etc.
I don't know much about public transport in other cities as every time i go there, i usually have a friend taxi me around, but Brisbane's public transport is awful. The city council is now spending a lot of money trying to fix it up because Brisbane is growing incredibly fast (fastest growing capital city followed very closely followed by Perth) and our current infrastructure can't handle it. It'll be a few years before the public transport is any good again.
Don't know about city parks, I guess Sydney for this regard, but I would say as far as beaches, Perth probably has the nicest ones that are close to the city. Sydney has the famous Bondi beach, but it'll be crowded and probably have a good handful of drug dealers. Melbourne's beaches aren't bad. Brisbane itself doesn't have any nice beaches, but surfers paradise on the gold coast has excellent surf and the beaches about an hour or so drive's north on the sunshine coast are beautiful and quite quiet. The best beaches that i've been to, though, are in northern queensland where you'll have white sand, beautiful forests and palms and not a person in sight.
Shopping - a toss up between Sydney and Melbourne once again, because of their size. Brisbane and Perth are sleepy cities in comparison.

If I were you, I'd probably go for Sydney for its agreeable weather, large city perks and large gay community. It's also in between Melbourne and Brisbane (probably a 45 minute flight in each direction) giving you better flexibility if you have a bit of money to travel.
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:19 PM
 
9,912 posts, read 12,912,667 times
Reputation: 7326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spindle View Post
It's difficult trying to get an honest response from Australians as to which city to live in - the vast majority seem to see their city as their football team: it's the best and any other is awful. This happens with political preference, too.
Minus 1 thanks.

You're assuming I even have a football team or a political preference or that I am incapable of weighing up the pros and cons of more than the city I currently live in, not to mention I'm not keen on your dishonesty implication.

Perhaps leave the stereotypes at home?
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:35 PM
 
Location: Southern California
493 posts, read 420,093 times
Reputation: 631
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vichel View Post
Go for Melbourne. Weather can be crap after April but don't worry about the weather, it's only for 6 months. Do the stuff that is reliant on weather during the first 3 months, then enjoy the vibrancy of Melbourne the rest of the time. I love Melbourne. But I live in Perth. Our weather is far better than Melbourne's, but I've realised that weather is a poor indicator of enjoyment of life.

Have fun. I wish you the best.
Can you tell me more about Perth in more detail? Like what you like and don't like about it? And would you recommend Perth to a single American college student?
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:21 PM
 
9,336 posts, read 20,211,622 times
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I went to Uni Adelaide. I love ADL, but its not a choice you presented. So I would pick Melbourne. Cafe culture, trams, great museums and arts scene. The gay scene is more vibrant in Sydney but it is not exactly dead in Melbourne. Sydney is nice but once you get out of the harbour you will find sprawl a la LA. Melbourne feels more intimate. And you can catch cheap flights to Tassie and other parts of Oz...
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Old 10-16-2008, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
10,791 posts, read 7,988,839 times
Reputation: 17768
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmexman View Post
Can you tell me more about Perth in more detail? Like what you like and don't like about it? And would you recommend Perth to a single American college student?
I would recommend Perth to any visitor, but from your criteria I figured Melbourne would be more suitable. I'm also taking into account the opinion of a younger co-worker of mine who is originally from Perth but lived in Melbourne for 3 years and is now back in Perth. Her and my views of Perth vs Melbourne seem to correlate, especially the shopping, big-city nightlife, culture, diversity, etc.

One important thing to know about Perth is that it basically shuts down after 6pm, or even earlier. Melbourne doesn't stop, it keeps going. I tire myself out when I go to Melbourne. It's a great walking city and has good public transport to other parts of the City. Perth is much, much smaller and more limited. Its little outer pockets of nightlife & shopping districts are here and there, and not well connected by public transport. Our taxi service is awful after-hours.

I lived in Canada and have been to the US many times, so I'm familiar with the sort of shopping you're probably thinking of - and it ain't here in Perth, believe me.

You did mention the isolation of Perth and the cost of airfares to other parts of Oz as well. That is something I'm certainly aware of, and bemoan myself. I love to travel, and it's hard from Perth. There are lovely areas close to and several hours drive from Perth - very low-key, more about scenery & unspoiled naturalness than nightlife and shopping.

Our beaches are the best imo, not just in Perth but elsewhere in WA - check out my pictures in the Pictures of Australia and New Zealand thread. But don't expect South Miami or Laguna. They're uncrowded for the most part, and unspoiled. Vast stretches of simple, uncluttered, naturalness, and not just the coast either. I'm not being disparaging. It can be quite satisfying and calming sometimes to be away from the crowds and commercialism. And you definitely get that here.

Perth is quite clean and new with lots of wide, open spaces. Melbourne has a bit of that big-city grittiness to it, which I find quite appealing. I'm not trying to talk down Perth, just being realistic about its limitations when I take your list of preferences into account.
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:49 AM
 
2,421 posts, read 6,508,554 times
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It's not just Airfares that cost alot. Taking the Indian Pacific across the country, Is pretty pricey aswell and 65 hours on a train, Can really wipe you out.

I don't want to put you off Perth either. As UWA is a good choice for University and Perth is a very scenic city. However, Despite the cities nice panoramas and other Interesting quirks. It really dosen't (..And really can't) offer the sorts of thrills, Of a Sydney or Melbourne?......It's not nicknamed "Dullsville" for nothing!

Last edited by Kangaroofarmer; 10-16-2008 at 10:22 AM..
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:39 AM
 
787 posts, read 1,600,621 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonshadow View Post
Minus 1 thanks.

You're assuming I even have a football team or a political preference or that I am incapable of weighing up the pros and cons of more than the city I currently live in, not to mention I'm not keen on your dishonesty implication.

Perhaps leave the stereotypes at home?
1. I said the vast majority, but you somehow read into that, that I pointed my finger at you specifically?
2. I never said anything about anyone having a favourite football team, i said they treat their city and political opinions like they would their football team.
3. If you disagree with me, read any forum/discussion when articles such as "x city named best in world" comes up and watch the crossfire. Similar story occurs when politics comes up despite what evidence is thrown in.
4. I should have mentioned another Australian trait: don't make social commentary that is in any way derogatory towards Australia/Australians, for some reason, they take it personally.
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