This post was contributed by Spring 2020 Global Ambassador Katherine Shumaker, a Communication and Leadership student studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia.
Hello everyone! My name is Katherine and I am a second-year Communication and Leadership student originally from San Antonio. I find myself resting in a cozy little dorm room 10,000 miles away in Melbourne, Australia. Here I will be taking classes for my BDP in Leadership and Ethics in Business at the University of Melbourne. Unfortunately, they have no mascot or hand sign; fortunately, I get to teach “hook’em” to everyone I meet! From what I’ve seen so far, Melbourne is similar to Austin in the following ways: completely unpredictable weather, beautiful architecture, and painfully never-ending construction. However, one unique aspect of Australia is that because the seasons are opposite to Texas, they begin their “fall” semester in March. So, I’ve had about a 3-month break to save up as much money as possible for this trip.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in manifestation and the law of attraction. Choosing a program in Australia and having no plan for how to pay for it truly tested my faith in the provisions of the Universe. It should be stated, however, that I come from a place of ample privilege and I am incredibly grateful to not have to pay program fees, tuition, and housing bills out of my own pocket. Even still, expenses such as groceries, day-trips, club fees, etc. add up quickly and eat away at a 3-month babysitting savings. To my surprise, I find myself thinking about money very often so far. Each time I pull the credit card out I wince a little bit, knowing that I do not have any form of income to replenish the damage.
Naturally, it would be helpful to have a budget of some sort that takes into account expenses that come with travel and Uni life. At the same time, it’s difficult to predict and oftentimes I underestimate. That said, I am contemplating part-time work while here in Australia. Although, the semester has not started yet so I will hold off for a few weeks until I understand my academic and social demands. Interestingly, the minimum wage here is $19 AUD per hour. For that reason, service workers like waitstaff and drivers do not expect tips, but rather reject them! Even cooler, taxes are built into the prices of items so I can pay with an even dollar amount. Goodbye, annoying change!
For any prospective students, I want to express how eager UT Texas Global is to collaborate in finding a program that fits any budget. Each exchange program has a finance sheet online that includes a potential budget, which I used to calculate the cost for the University of Melbourne. While UT Texas Global has numerous options for financial aid and scholarships, it is my opinion that studying abroad has room for growth in accessibility to all students. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity and even more fortunate that my money stressors are about traveling and going to fun events- not feeding myself or finding a place to stay.
While I lived at Kinsolving my freshman year at UT, I decided to do accommodations differently here. I was accepted to be a part of a residential college this semester: University College. I haven’t been here long enough to fully review it, but think of a dorm mixed with a splash of Greek life. My next blog will explore the similarities/differences between dorm life and RC life, so watch out for that!