You have arrived at the airport in Australia, ready to begin your adventure studying abroad during your summer vacation. You can’t wait to hit the beach and soak up some warm sun rays. Suddenly, your eyes are struck by an unexpected sight: snow! You see people carrying snowboards and skis. And what is this talk about Christmas…in July?

While you may have left warmer climes in North America, the months of June, July, and August are Australia’s winter. Before you get a case of the winter blues, consider the unique opportunity that awaits you from this experience. While Australians may love being on the beach, they have also embraced all manner of winter sports, especially skiing and snowboarding.

There are plenty of museums and theatrical programs to enjoy in Australia’s major cities, as well as enjoying warm, comforting drinks in bars and pubs with your new friends from all over the world. And there are wonderful Australian festivals to put you in a holiday spirit; maybe there is something to this fanciful idea of Christmas is July! Australia is one of the few countries on Earth where it can be fun to experience the seasons of the year in reverse. Don’t forget to put some good time into your studies; there are plenty of excellent study abroad programs in Australia during their winter.

A Few Quick Packing Tips

The best advice that students traveling abroad have to give is “leave half behind!” Australia is a country where you will be able to find a lot of what you need, such as hangers, toiletries, sheets and towels, electrical appliances, etc. Some students recommend using wheeled duffel bags and one backpack. They also recommend packing comfortable clothing that can be layered for all kinds of Australian weather. Clothing on campus is usually very casual.

If you are taking medications, bring enough to supply you for your entire stay abroad. Don’t assume your particular medication will be available in Australia. Ditto if you are using contact lenses; bring chemical solutions from home.

Australia will surprise you in what it has to offer during the summer months. If you're looking for an escape from the summer heat, you've found your solution. The ambiance and welcoming environment will leaving you wanting to come back the second you get on the plane to go home!

It’s off-season: While the summer tourist season is heating up in Europe and the USA, most areas of Australia will not be nearly as crowded by tourists. So, if you want to study on a peaceful beach, you could have your wish.

You can hang with the locals: It really is true; when tourists go away, the locals come out to play. You may have a chance to experience local behavior in a way that you never would when they were crunched by the tourists.

Less is more: Since it is off-season in the more temperate areas of Australia, that can mean cheaper airfare, accommodations, and car rentals. If you are interested in outdoor activities, such as hiking, that also means fewer crowds, less pesky insects, and less snakes to run into.

Experience winter activities during the summer: There’s something to be said for enjoying things in reverse (like dessert before your meal!). If you love skiing and snowboarding during the winter in your home country, then most likely it will be just as much, if not more, fun to do so in Australia during the summer! There are also wonderful indoor activities, such as museums and theater to enjoy. Check out this cultural events page for more information on events that are unique to Australia’s culture.

Contributed by Whitney Zahar

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