Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. Despite common images of the Outback and our huge desert interior and The Crocodile Hunter, most of our population of just 21 million live in modern, safe cities and towns near the east coast. Australians are generally friendly and accepting and enjoy having a good time but also have the ability to work and study hard. Travel is quite easy using our relatively inexpensive and safe air, rail and road systems.
More than 100 ethnic groups are represented in the Australian population. About one-fifth of all Australians were born overseas. While English is the national language, more than one in every eight speak another language at home. We are a truly multi-cultural society living in a safe, friendly, sophisticated and harmonious society.
Politically we are an independent Western democracy. The Australian Government administers national issues and State and Territory Governments care for regional matters.
The Australian Government takes special interest in the welfare of international students and has special laws for protecting those studying in Australia on a student visa. State and Territory governments ensure that our education system is of high quality.
Australians are environmentally conscious and work hard to preserve the country's beautiful scenery and unique plants and wildlife. Kangaroos are quite common in rural areas and other unique creatures such as koalas, wombats, platypuses and our fascinating snakes are more easily observed in wildlife reserves. Great tourist destinations such as The Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Ayers Rock and the Tasmanian Wilderness are among thirteen Australian World Heritage Areas listed by the United Nations.
Australians have gained a worldwide reputation for success in sporting activities. As a nation we are very passionate about sport and outdoor activities. Australia ranked sixth in the 2008 Olympics by earning fourteen gold medals, fifteen silver and seventeen bronze. An amazing performance by such a small country. Sports such as basketball, Aussie Rules Football, rugby, soccer, surfing, swimming, tennis and cricket are popular throughout the country. Snow skiing and snow-boarding on our snow fields happen between July and September.
Australia also offers excellent value for money and a standard of living which is among the highest in the world. Despite this, living expenses and tuition costs in Australia are considerably less expensive than in the UK and USA.
Australia is divided into three times zones: Eastern Standard Time, Central Time and Western Time. Avondale is in the Eastern Standard Time zone. Daylight saving operates from early October until late March.
Our currency is in Australian dollars and cents and we have achieved international recognition with our unique brightly coloured plastic notes.
Motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road in right hand drive vehicles. A drivers licence from your country allows you to drive while in Australia although you should plan to get an Australian licence. While many makes of vehicles are manufactured in Australia, many are also imported from Asia, Europe and USA.
Electrical Voltage, Weights and Measures
Electricity is 240 volts, we have a three-pin connector and switches are down when on. You may need a transformer if your appliances are not 240 volts. Weights and measurements are all metric.Temperature is measured in degrees Celsius; distance in kilometres; weights in grams and kilos; speed in kilometres per hour; and a persons height is measured in centimetres.
Students are referred to as first years and second years rather than freshmen and sophomores or other titles. Individual units of study are called subjects and the entire study program is called a course.
The language of instruction is English although the Australian accent is unique. Australians have interesting habits of shortening words: auditorium is audo and afternoon is arvo. And our accent is sometimes considered to be like UK or Ireland but is really quite different.
Our climate has warm to hot summers 15°-32°C (75°F-90°F) from December to February and mild to cool winters 8°C-19°C (50°F-65°F) from June to August. Some summer days will reach over 40°C (100°F) and some winter mornings will be around 0°C (32°F). Even during the wettest and coldest months, an overcoat and umbrella are all that you will need to keep warm and dry. Australia is renowned for its sunny days and clear blue skies even during winter.