James Cook University Review

James Cook University Review

Application process

In order to be able to study at JCU, one should have achieved a school grade of 2 in the basic course and 3 in the advanced course in English. There is no need to take a complex TOEFL test or the like, as is required by many other universities. It is also possible to study only three subjects at the JCU and thus to pay less tuition fees. In general, the application process was quite simple: submit your application to MicroEDU and receive admission a few weeks later. Preparations for everything else took a lot more time: Which visa do I need? Which courses do I want to study? When do i have to be there?


According to toppharmacyschools, studying at the JCU in Cairns was an opportunity that I will probably never get again, because studying in the tropics is different than in Germany! The campus is about 30 minutes by bus from the city on the foothills of the mountains and surrounded by rainforest. The site is not very large and all buildings are within easy walking distance. The air-conditioned library offers workstations with computers on two floors, there is a kind of kitchen and a (quite expensive) cafeteria. The shop with nice student articles and cheap books was always worth a visit. There are chilled water stations all over the campus to fill up the water bottle – which is very valuable on hot tropical days. But now to the highlight: As I said, the rainforest is very close. Any lunch breaks can therefore be spent at picnic tables or simply on the meadow – surrounded by trees and unusual animals that live on campus.


I took the subject “Australia Through Time and Place”, which deals with the development of the Aborigines in their country – super interesting. The two English subjects (Modern Literature and Critical Theory) impressed me with interesting seminars, but a lot of personal work was required. Essays and exams often blocked my way to the beach. Unfortunately, most of my professors were teaching on the main campus of JCU in Townsville, so we attended the lectures via video conference. Nevertheless, the relationship with tutors or professors was always very open and emails were answered quickly.


The first few days at JCU weren’t half as complicated as expected. There are contact points all over the campus where I could get help with planning questions. The JCU has a professional team for international students who regularly organized activities throughout the semester. Whether BBQ, zoo animals on campus or a party bus that brought us from the campus bar into town – the employees tried from the first to the last day to be there for us and to help us in all situations. Even the day on which our final exam times were published was taken as an opportunity to let us forget the initial stress of the exam with cake, ice cream, a bouncy castle and live music.

Accommodation search

Before I came to Cairns, I booked a hostel in the city for the first week. That was a good decision, because once you arrive at the university, you will find many requests from locals who rent rooms to students (or websites you can search for yourself) on notices. There is also a popular student dormitory close to the campus, but it is neither on the beach nor in the city and is relatively expensive despite the food. I immediately found a room in one of the northern suburbs of Cairns. The beach was not far there and the university could be reached by bike in 25 minutes. Going out in the city with the bus on the weekend wasn’t a problem either. You just have to be prepared for long, too much air-conditioned bus journeys. Since everything is very spacious there, you should clarify beforehand whether your fellow students also live in the area.

Leisure excursions

Cairns is the starting point for the unique Great Barrier Reef and beautiful islands such as Green Island or Fitzroy Island. Personally, I was much more enthusiastic about the rainforest north of Cairns. Port Douglas is an hour’s drive north on a beautiful coastal road to Daintree National Park. We stayed there for a weekend in Cape Tribulation. From there we climbed Mount Sorrow, took a horse ride on the beach or jumped a liana into a water hole. With the four-wheel drive we drove further north to Cooktown and experienced a lot in the region, since the original charm of the continent is not so burdened by tourism there.

Cairns itself is a great place to go out in the evening, but otherwise offers relatively little. The northern suburbs are simply heavenly with beautiful tropical beaches. Kuranda is a not far away hippie village in the mountains, which can be visited, for example, by a seven kilometer long cable car or a traditional train ride. Behind it, the Atherton Tablelands begin with many farms and other paradisiacal national parks. So there is always something to see, whether in Cairns or a little outside!

Do’s and don’ts

In general: The cliché that Australians are always friendly and helpful is true! So always be friendly and take conversations lightly. This also applies to tutorials or seminars at the university. The teachers meet students on an equal footing, and that is normal there. By the way, the students come to the university from all possible age groups, which makes a really interesting mix. I can also recommend getting involved in one of the clubs at the university. These are all presented at the beginning of the semester on “Market Day”. You get to meet nice Australian students who are very interested in engaging international students. If you like to move around a lot and don’t live in town, get yourself a bike (available from K-Mart or used on Gumtree). This is the easiest way to get to the beach and university. Rusty’s Markets in the city offer a huge selection of fruit and vegetables – on Sundays at 2:30 p. m. it’s cheapest. Try as many BBQ stations as possible on the beaches and along the esplanade – super sociable! Take part in parties and events that are in town on the esplanade, go to the Moonlight Cinema in the Botanical Gardens. Rent a car and just drive a little further out. There is just so much to do!

You should be especially careful from October onwards with snakes that can be found on hiking trails and with dangerous marine life. I have never seen a crocodile on the coast myself, but the news often tells of snakes found. Just keep your eyes open when hiking, and it’s best not to go into the sea from October onwards. The “stingers” – poisonous, small water dwellers – are pretty nasty. Always drink plenty of water! It is not for nothing that there are drinking water systems everywhere. And of course don’t underestimate the sun. Sunbathing in front of the library at ten in the morning is enough to burn yourself.

And finally: just enjoy every day in this wonderful place!

How can you show interested students a semester abroad and the feelings that accompany you during it? I asked myself this question and I hope I can investigate a little with this little experience report.

A semester abroad can be compared to the first semester of your life. We have all already taken and survived this step into a new and unfamiliar phase of life. When I think back to the months before I started studying and the months before my semester abroad, the feelings you experience are very similar. Before I went to Australia, I thought about all the new challenges that I have to face and that I have to master. As a result, the nervousness increases immeasurably every day, but also the joy of being able to start the new adventure and being able to reach its limits. It is a rollercoaster of emotions, like a roller coaster of superlatives, because you have to say goodbye to home, the familiar, and go into unfamiliar terrain.

For me, this semester abroad was a challenge to my personal and psychological limits, which I overcame and grew as a result. Exceeding my own comfort zone has helped me become richer in experiences, feelings and values. An example of exceeding my personal limits was a bungee jump, which helped me to leave my fears and doubts behind and to be open to new possibilities in my life.

Now a little about my stay abroad in Cairns.

I decided on my semester abroad at very short notice. As a result, most of the deadlines were over. However, MicroEDU was at my side with a lot of commitment and worked intensively with me on my dream of completing a semester abroad. With all of the questions I had about all that paperwork, the MicroEDU staff were always available and always quick to provide me with feedback. As a result, the application process was very structured and clear. As a result, working with MicroEDU has been fantastic and very helpful. As a result, I can only recommend this organization and advise everyone to work with MicroEDU , as they support you with flying colors before, during and after a stay abroad.

My university abroad, the James Cook University (JCU) in Cairns, impressed right from the start with its modern building, which one can only desperately look for in Germany. Not only is the building very convincing, but also the organization and the teaching staff. No matter how disorganized you stumble into the university at the beginning, each of the employees there is there to provide advice and assistance and works out the goal with a common goal. I started my orientation week in a rather disorganized way and was able to make friends after the first detailed information event. As a result, I would advise everyone to experience the orientation week and actively help shape it, as this is where the beginnings of a great and successful semester begin.

The cooperation between professors and students is very close in Australia, which leads to a great learning and working atmosphere. The interaction with one another is very relaxed and easy-going. With every professor, I had the impression that they were there for me for every little matter, and not just because I was an international student. With that I would like to say that you will never be left alone at the University of Cairns, because everyone sees the goal of the joint degree in front of them. The “teachers” have set themselves the task of making the course as pleasant as possible for their students and not making it difficult. I don’t always have this impression in Germany.

As a result, this semester abroad presented me with a new window of learning options that I would like to take on in my future professional life.

Furthermore, the university is very modern and works with many examples in the economic field. As a result, I was able to get a good overview of the business and economic situation in Australia.

There are several options for self-catering in Cairns. First there is the Student Lodge, which is directly attached to the university. Another option is to search for accommodation yourself on the plan. I can only recommend www. gumtree. com. au as a website. This site works like Ebay classifieds. I sat down with a Sharehouse company and stayed with them. As a result, I had the opportunity to live with backpackers, interns and students. This gave me the opportunity to gain a wide range of knowledge about life in Australia. However, my apartment was located in the city, which meant that I had to take the bus to the university for about 30 minutes (50% student discount from the ticket price). As a result, both options have their advantages and disadvantages. However, you shouldn’t let that put you off. The JCU offers many information brochures before you start your studies, in which they explain all the accommodation options.

I can therefore only recommend a semester abroad and would do it again and again. I also see the cooperation with MicroEDU as an enrichment and a relief for the first steps and also for the follow-up.

The JCU makes the semester abroad a real experience and a great experience. The university has managed to create an atmosphere of well-being and mutual exchange. As a result, I would recommend the JCU to anyone who would like to get to know the difference between different institutions and would also like to feel a difference between a German university and an Australian university.

James Cook University Review

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