Frederik Muth at DGL (Aust) Pty Ltd, Australia
At a certain point during my studies I had to make up my mind what I want to do with my obligatory practical semester. Considering the options the Campus has to offer, I knew I wanted to take that kind-of-“once-in-a-lifetime”-chance to go abroad and gain some international experience. I’m pretty sure it’ll never be that easy again, to just go to a different country for a limited amount of time.
Since I already spent some time in the US and Great Britain, I was eager to get to know Australia and its culture to point out differences to the western cultures I already knew. So my choice of destination for my practical term was clear, besides the willingness to improve my language skills and to live at the other end of the world.
Next decision I had to make was to go to an Australian university or to absolve an internship in an Australian company. First I went for option no 1, but because of conflicting exam-dates in Germany and the beginning of the Australian uni-semester, not receiving Auslandsbafög, and realizing that I was sorta fed up with studying ;), I decided for the internship.
During my internship at DGL I could gain a lot of insight into the Australian logistics branch and learned a lot. As a characterization of the Australian way of work, at least as far as I experience it, I would say that it seemed to me a bit more informal and less “professional” than in Germany. On the other hand, as an intern I was able to gain more insight into the business and received more responsibility than I could imagine, compared to German internships I absolved so far.
Besides the whole work experience, the cultural experience part was positively massive J! In general the Aussies were friendly, open minded and always tried to turn an average situation into a good time.
As far as I remember I only had one single weekend in Australia were I was at home and just needed to relax. There is so much to see over there, besides astonishing natural sceneries, wonderful beaches and idyllic places there is always an invitation to a real Aussie Barbeque, which you really don’t want to miss.
The “Things-to-do”-list in Australia is way too long to post here, but it is nearly endless. As an excerpt pepped up with travel hints, I can give you the following recommendations:
Before you leave, get one of the “Lonely Planet” travelguides for Australia, depending on which part you are about to travel. Read through it and get a first impression what you really want to see in Australia, you can’t do all of it. I would describe the Lonely Planet as the “backpacker’s bible”, since it contains tons of helpful information for travelers. Wherever you are about to go, you will find addresses of hostels, sightseeing tips, walking tours and so on. Very handy.
When you plan to go another city, there are two good options for traveling in Australia. First, you can go by plane, which is pretty cheap over there. Go to webjet.com.au and find out which airline is the cheapest for your travel. This website checks the most popular airlines, except jetstar.com.au which is comparable to Ryan Air in Europe.
Second option is to get a rental car. Be careful with liability and insurances, in Australia they are not as high as in Germany. So I preferred to book rental cars over a German website where everything is included. Or you can also check standbycars.com, This site offers so-called relocation deals, meaning you only pay a nickel and a dime to bring a car back to its origin location in a certain amount of time. For example in four days I took a Toyota Camry from Brisbane back to Cairns, which is about 1700 km north of Brisbane. I had to pay one Australian Dollar per day, including 250 AUD fuel allowance. With needing only 208 AUD I travelled this distance for something around two Euros in total. That’s what I call a deal.
When travel by car, also be aware of toll roads. Especially in New South Wales and Victoria, most of the highways are toll roads, and if you cross one without paying your dues, it is going to get expensive.
After you have passed a toll checkpoint, you’ll find an over-dimensioned sign, providing a telephone number where you can sign up for a “guest pass”. Just give them your credit card number, tell them when your pass should expire and you’re set to go. All toll fees will be deducted from your credit card, and you are free of worries.
Another very useful website is gumtree.com.au. If you are looking for a place to rent, a room in a shared apartment or for holiday house stays, then this is your place to go. Furthermore you find used furniture, TVs, electrical equipment, cars or even jobs. This site is just huge, comparable to craigslist.com in the USA. So if you are simply looking for “stuff”, you probably find it on gumtree.
If you love to travel, Australia has plenty to offer. In Queensland I personally recommend the Noosa region for great beaches, nature scenery and a relaxed way of living. North of Noosa you can find a National Park, where 4WD-driving is allowed. There is nothing better than to drive through the sand of the beach, stopping for a quick BBQ, having a swim and then make your way through the woods.
If you prefer a more extravagant lifestyle and like to party hard, Surfers Paradise is your location. For the nature experience, go up to Cairns and drive from there to Cape Tribulation, the worlds only spot where rain forest directly touches a beach line. For a more sixties-flavoured, surf-infected place, go to Byron Bay, the most east point of the Australian Mainland.
Make sure to also visit the other states, I don’t have to lose words about Sydney and Melbourne. These cities offer everything and are just fun to explore. When being near Melbourne, make sure not to miss the Great Ocean Road, including the 12 Apostels. If for example you are flying in from Brisbane, choose Melbourne Avalon airport, which is connected via cheap jetstar flights and is close to Great Ocean Road. Get a rental car and take the Highway to Port Campell or wherever you want to start the tour, because you want to start the tour “backwards”. Believe me, you don’t want to drive the tour from Melbourne to Port Campell, unless you have a fetish for traffic jams.
The last hint I can extract from my wisdom and expertise: Try to establish a personal contact with as many Aussies possible, Australia is way more informal than Germany, and everybody wants you to have a good time. And if you are looking for an internship, try to explain them what you want to do. Especially small firms are not familiar with internships, so I’d suggest you try to approach them as a “trainee work experience” kind of thing and show them what kind of valuable workforce you are.
With the benefit of hindsight, personally for me going to Australia was the best choice to make. By the way, since I haven’t seen the rim of the platter when I was over there, I am convinced the earth is round ;)
Enjoy your stay!