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A year in Sydney, between cultural immersion and ecological reality

Publié le February 27, 2020, Mis à jour le February 27, 2020

Manon Burrer, a twenty-two-year-old third-year student in Programme Grande École specializing in entrepreneurship, decided to go on exchange to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Arriving in Australia in July, she recounts her adventures on this new continent.

Manon Burrer

Manon Burrer

A peaceful arrival in the land of koalas

In Australia, the seasons and the school calendar are opposite compared to France. For Manon, first semester thus began in mid-July and ended in mid-November (winter and spring in Australia). In addition to the school calendar, the intensity of the courses also differs. With twelve hours of classes per week, Manon is enjoying the pace of study. "Here, studying is really different: we have many writing assignments to hand in, research to do, and a lot of group work." Campus life appeals to her as she loves above all meeting and exchanging with students from all over the world. "I live in a student residence on campus. I have access to the gym and all the facilities, as well as to the many on-site events such as barbecues, etc."

Fires in Australia: adaptation is key

“In late January and early February, Australia often experiences fires," explains Manon. At the beginning of 2020, fires reached an unprecedented scale. They started earlier than usual, in late September 2019, and even today they continue to burn. "Every week there's heavy smoke in Sydney. The smell is very strong. Everyone wears masks." Manon’s parents came to visit with the intention of traveling along the coast to Melbourne. Unfortunately, their journey was cut short. “The police stopped us on the road because there was a huge forest fire twenty meters away from us. It was an unlikely situation. Fortunately, there was more fear than harm." Manon puts things into perspective by realizing that for her family it is just a change in plans, whereas for some it is their home, their boat, or a part of their life that has gone up in smoke.


A striking ecological reality

Sensitive to the environmental cause, Manon already had an ecological conscience at the time of her departure. However, this trip to Australia with its environmental consequences and the speed of global warming has left a deep impression on her. "Everything's out of whack: it's very hot, and then it's very cold. There were hailstorms, which is unusual. The importance of preserving our planet is really sinking in." Currently on vacation, Manon receives regular e-mails from the University of Sydney urging her to be vigilant. She plans her day according to the trajectory of the smoke in the city. "My friends and I avoid going to the beach when the sky is full of smoke. We change our plans, we adapt, but for us the impact is minimal."

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