Home to the famous Mall’s Balls, deliciously sweet frog cakes and festivals galore is Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Often referred to as a ‘student city’, with its easy-to-navigate and accessible city centre, affordable cost of living and fantastic education options, Adelaide is a popular choice for international students – just ask University of South Australia law student Suli Jayasekara. Chatting to Suli, we get an insider’s perspective on living and studying in the South Australian capital.
THE ADELAIDE LIFESTYLE
As one of Australia’s smaller capital cities, Adelaide is known for being more peaceful and relaxed than its Eastern counterparts. For many students, this is a good thing, with the calmer environment perfect for focusing on studies, although for others, it can take a bit of adjusting.
At first, Suli struggled with the differences between her home of Colombo, Sri Lanka and Adelaide, going from a bustling metropolis to a quieter city. Fortunately, Suli, like many other students abroad, was able to adapt to her new surroundings, with her new life as an international student providing the necessary thrill and excitement.
“I love uni, I love every aspect of it, I love what I’m studying – there was no time for me to be sad about all of the changes,” she says. “I eventually became very comfortable and settled into life here. It has grown on me. I think settling in for any student will be a gradual process.”
On a typical weekend outside of the university semester, without the stresses of study, Suli uses her time off to catch up with family back home and visit her Adelaide hotspots.
“Since I’m still so new to Adelaide, it’s all about eating and going and seeing places,” she says. “I really like Glenelg – the beach is really calm and nice, especially during the summer. I live in Magill, so Morialta [Conservation Park] is close-by. Also, when I first came to Adelaide, my parents and I used to go down to [Adelaide] Oval to watch local cricket matches.”
WHERE TO EAT AND SHOP
Suli adores Adelaide’s food choices and loves that you can find cuisines from across the globe. On a student budget, she recommends the popular Adelaide Central Market and nearby Chinatown for quality eating options.
“I’m not much of a ‘foodie’, but Rundle Mall is also cheap and the food is good. I like the Rundle Place food court,” she says. “Rundle Mall is actually one of my favourite places – when I first came here, between lectures, when I had breaks, I would just take the train to Rundle Mall and spend time at the shops.”
Adelaide’s transport system includes trains, trams, buses – and even free bikes and scooters. The city is also laid out in a very handy grid, which makes navigation easy. This accessibility has been a huge advantage to Suli – one that she thinks other students considering Adelaide should take into account.
“As an international student, commuting is a huge issue, but in Adelaide I’ve found that it’s really easy,” she says. “You never get lost in the city – you can always figure it out.”
In Adelaide, you’ll find plenty of great accommodation options. For those who want to experience Adelaide as a local, private rentals or homestays are perfect. For others who want to stick to a student atmosphere, residential colleges and managed accommodation are ideal. Suli began her life in Adelaide with a homestay, living with a local family outside the city centre.
“Coming from a big family back home, staying with a family made the move to Adelaide a little less daunting because I’d spend time with them and slowly became part of their family,” she says. “Just hearing other voices in the house was nice.”
After her first semester at the University of South Australia, Suli and a friend decided to rent their own house, offering them a little bit more freedom.
“The best thing about being in a private rental is that independence you gain – you really grow as a person, because you have to,” she says. “You have to wash your clothes, wash the dishes, cook for yourself. I have a love and hate relationship with household chores, but the independence is what I love.”
STUDYING IN ADELAIDE
One year into her four-year bachelor’s degree, Suli is glad that all her research into finding the best university for her has been worth it. In particular, she is impressed with the University of South Australia’s strong preference towards quality over quantity in its courses.
“One unique thing about the [University’s] law school is that … it has a good student-to-teacher ratio,” she says. “The quality of attention that the lecturers and tutors give you is really high and the small student ratio means you can be closer with them – you can build better relationships. There’s a family feeling in the law school at the University of South Australia, as opposed to other universities that would have larger, numbers-driven law schools.”
In class, Suli is glad to have found the school expanding from just book-based learning and into the practical, working world.
“The University of South Australia emphasises so much more than just the academic aspect of my degree,” she says. “They don’t only focus on teaching us the law, but making sure we can gain practical skills. Like, in my last year, I can apply to do a placement with the University’s legal aid clinic, where we handle real cases from real people that have actual problems.”
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
For fellow international students looking to study abroad, Suli offers some sound wisdom when it comes to battling homesickness and remaining resilient.
“One thing I wish people would have told me is to give it time. When I came here, I didn’t expect the homesick period to last that long. I wish someone had told me, it’s going to get better.”
When it comes to studying in Australia – Adelaide, in particular – Suli closes with these recommendations on how to get the most out of your time abroad.
“To international students, I’d say, participate in activities and get yourself involved with university. Networking is a very important thing in Australia to build up your career. Come open-minded and come prepared to engage, because that’s really going to help you in the long run.”