Here’s what Makes Melbourne One of the Best Cities for Students
As more international students return to Australia, we caught up with architecture exchange student Johanna. She's here studying at Melbourne University, one of Australia’s best universities and the 33rd best university in the world.
Johanna is spending her semester delving deep into her education while experiencing Australian life. Let’s hear from Johanna on what makes Melbourne a top city for education.
Why did you choose to study in Melbourne?
My home university, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, collaborates with over 100 universities around the world, so there are good opportunities to find an exciting country or university that suits you and your field of studies.
For me, Melbourne was my first choice for exchange studies, and I was lucky to be one of the chosen few who got to go here because there are many applicants. I was drawn to Melbourne by both educational and personal aspects.
Landscape architecture is practised around the world, and each country has its own style and approach to this field. The subjects I had looked up at the University of Melbourne offered additional study topics within the field of landscape architecture that I found interesting which aren’t available back at my university in Sweden.
Throughout my previous studies, we have been shown several inspiring landscape architecture projects from Melbourne. Studying a case through textbooks can certainly be educational, but nothing quite takes the place of visiting a project in person. By exploring projects with my feet, eyes, and sketchbook, I can draw my own conclusions and discover other interesting and educative aspects.
I'm a greatly curious person. To experience a new culture and city was an important reason for me to go on an exchange program and Australia has long been on the list of countries I’ve wanted to visit.
Diverse people and cultures
For the past seven years, Melbourne has been ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities. It’s also a diverse and multicultural city as well as a global centre for street art, live events and literature.
Within the field of landscape architecture, knowledge is in many ways gained by experiencing and immersing in various living environments and the different values it inherits. It requires me to shift between being an academic analytic and experiencing and inhabiting these environments as a private person to broaden my perspective and gain an understanding of how the citizens' everyday lives correlate to the surrounding environment.
As a part of my educational goal to study abroad, I also wanted to develop my English practice skills, as language acquisition is best accomplished through practical immersion. As such, I considered Melbourne an ideal city for both landscape architecture students and a curious civilian. After spending two months here, I’m convinced that this was the right choice for me.
What do you love about Melbourne?
Melbourne is a big, vibrant and diverse city.
To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by its size and the endless stream of people when I first arrived. But after spending time here, I’ve come to love just that, and I don’t see it as one big city anymore.
All the different suburbs and streets create small pockets within the urban fabric with their own character and offer various activities.
There are so many things to explore—food, music, various activities at the university, nightlife, museums and galleries, beautiful parks and botanical gardens.
And after being out and about and engaging with the city, I’ve also met a bunch of lovely people, ranging from those whom I now call my friends to random heartfelt encounters. I find the Melburnians extremely kind, helpful and inviting.
There are also a lot of things to explore outside the city and as the nature lover that I am, there are lots of outdoor activities within travelable distance, places for tranquil forest walks or beaches and idyllic coastal areas.
What made you feel warm and welcomed when you first arrived in Melbourne?
The people. Both at the university and people I met elsewhere. I find that the people here are really curious, helpful and warm and I find it easier to navigate through the city by asking people rather than using my phone.
During my first few weeks in Melbourne, I lived in St Kilda. It was a great place to land in Melbourne, close to the beach with a stunning view over the city skyline.
Then I moved into a shared house in Northcote and I love it here. I have loads of things to do within walking distance—a cinema, walks along Merri creek, pubs with live music, a cute organic supermarket, heaps of restaurants and the tram to the city stops right around the corner.
Oh and they have an IKEA here quite close to the city centre for whenever I crave Swedish treats.
What advice would you give to someone considering coming to Melbourne to study?
Don’t fear all the paperwork and administration that is required for the university enrolment, visa and travel. It takes time and can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it is worth every minute once you get here.
Get a bike to ride around in the city. The public transport system is good and will take you longer distances, but I would argue that this city is best experienced by bike or foot.
Find some people who are keen to rent a car (and willing to drive on the left side) and explore nature outside the city circle. A few weeks ago, I went down to the Great Ocean Road with some fellow exchange students and it blew my mind.
Lastly and probably the most important part, have patience and reach out for help and support when things feel mind-boggling. The university is key for this, the student support team, teachers and classmates.
Is there anything you wish you knew before moving to Melbourne?
Ok, I’m not going to lie about the cold during the winter months. I’m from Sweden so I’d say I’m used to the cold but looking back to when I packed my suitcase, I regret not bringing that winter jacket.
Other than that, I feel like there’ll always be surprises and unexpected things occurring when moving long distances. In those cases, it’s been helpful to have the student support team at the university that I could reach out to.
Once you have completed your course, what are your plans? Are you going to stay in Australia?
My plan is to go back to Sweden in January to write my master's thesis and finish my degree. Although I now wish that I would have applied for a year long exchange so I could have finished my degree here and also so I would've had time to travel around the country a bit more. At this point, I feel at home here. So hopefully I’ll be able to come back to Australia in the near future to visit friends as well as explore other parts of the country.
Why Melbourne’s one of the best cities for students
According to Swedish International Student Johanna, Melbourne offers excellent educational opportunities in a safe and friendly city.
It’s no wonder Melbourne has ranked Australia’s best student city for eight years in a row. And as international students return to Australia after the pandemic, Melbourne is once again a top pick.
Come to Melbourne and discover for yourself why it’s one of the best cities for students. If your experience is anything like Johanna’s, you’ll cherish your experience in Melbourne for many years to come.