QUT, Brisbane, Australia

By Isabella Boll, Interactive Design student


G’day, how’s it going?

My name is Isabella and I’m studying Interactive design. I’m writing this to all of you that are curious about going on an exchange and probably are very torn whether you should choose to go abroad, and experience how it is to study and live in another country or continue your daily life with your lovely friends and family. I will tell you my story and definitely encourage you to take the jump and go!

When I heard that I had the opportunity to go to Australia for one semester, I was literally jumping up and down! The thing is though, that I had already been to Australia doing my gap year, so I knew what I was signing up for in terms of country, culture and language. Considering that, my jump might have been slightly smaller than the one you are considering taking. But I still had to jump, because I also had the doubt if I should leave my relatively new and beautiful study mates, if the university would live up to the high standard and if I would miss out on anything while I was away. I just want to point out that I completely understand if you are a big question mark right now, because I had my doubt as well, even though I love Australia and I would take every single opportunity I get to go Down Under. Take the jump, you will not regret it!

The university

I spend my third semester at QUT, Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, which is located on the east coast of Australia. QUT is a very big university with 50.000 student studying a wide range of courses. The university has two campuses, one located in the centre of Brisbane city, right in the middle of the botanical garden. Beautiful location and very beautiful campus.

The other campus is located at Kelvin Grove, 2km from the city. QUT provides free transport from the main campus in the city to the campus in Kelvin grove, which takes 10 minutes and makes it very easy to go from one campus to the other in case the students have classes on both campuses.

Photo: QUT by night                                          Coffee and pancakes at QUT

Because I had a lot of creative subject I was mostly at the campus in Kelvin Grove, which is home for the “Creative Industries”. I found this campus a lot cosier with a homely feeling than the main campus, because it feels a lot smaller, there is always students doing crazy acting in the kitchen that almost make you think they are in a real fight and young passionate dancers flying through the hallway. It’s a very inspirational environment and I it always made me smile when I walked into the creative Mecca.

At DMJX every semester is planned out with specific subjects that are chosen for you. QUT is nothing like DMJX, also when it comes to what courses and subject you’ll have doing the semester. At QUT there is a wide range of courses you can sign up for and it’s up to you to pick the courses you find interesting and structure your semester. I found it amazing that I could pick the courses I found interesting, but you have to be quick and know the date the courses are being released, because there are limited spots on the courses and some of the courses are very popular. I chose the courses:

DXB304.2 Interactive Narrative Design
KNB122.1 Drawing for animation 2D
KNB124.1 3D animation
KNB123.1 Animation and Motion Graphic

Photo: 3D animation

For an Interactive Design student that is passionate about motion and animation, these courses were gold in my pocket. All the courses gave me a basic understanding of animation in different aspects. I learned a lot about different ways of producing an animation. Even though most of the courses were about animation, it was very different approaches of how to produce it, what methods that are in use, is it drawing frame by frame like I did in the course “Drawing for 2D animation”, is it a 3D animation that is very heavy in terms of using a 3D program like Blender and modelling a three-dimensional world or is every single element designed in Adobe Illustrator and afterwards animated in Adobe After Effects like in the course “Animation and Motion Graphic. All the courses gave me so many different ways of how to produce animation.

Photo: Graphic novel, Interactive Narrative Design

The Interactive Narrative Design course was a bit different from the other courses I had, but it was an amazing supplement to all the other courses, because it was mainly about storytelling and how you tell a story through visuals. The course was also very interesting because of the game design aspect. My first assignment was designing a comic book, which was very different from what I had been doing at DMJX and it was a really good challenge to try and tell a story with only 10 images.

The other assignment was creating a story and then turn it into a computer game. A lot of fun and again something I wouldn’t have done at DMJX. This course is amazing if you want to learn about visual storytelling.


When you go abroad to another country there is always the big issue of finding a place to live. There is a lot of student accommodation located in the city and QUT can definitely help you out with that. Although the student accommodation is not cheap, and I will give the advice to be patient and try to find a share house or even an apartment. I was lucky that I was going on exchange with another student from my class, which made it a bit easier to find an apartment that was affordable. The thing is with leasing an apartment in Australia, it is usually at least a six-month lease and the semester is only 4 months.

We were searching for a place to live before we went overseas, but you have to show up to an inspection to actually get considered as a tenant.

I went to Australia a month before my semester started, to make sure I had time to find a place to live. It’s definitely not necessary that you spend a month on finding an accommodation. I think I spend two weeks to find a place and move in to the apartment. We found our apartment located in the city centre 7 minutes walk to the main campus through www.realestate.com.au. A lot of the other exchange students from all over the world were mostly living in share house, where you typically live with 5-10 other people, but have your own room. It’s a lot of fun living in a big share house where you’ll live with very nice and outgoing room-mates. You can find a room in a share house at www.gumtree.com.au or the Facebook group “Inner City Brisbane Share Houses”.

Social life

Photo: Weekend trip with the exchange group

Photo: Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef

The first week of your semester is very important, because the university arrange an introduction week, where there is a lot of activities and you get to meet all the other exchange student. They also arrange an O’week where all the communities such as different sport clubs are welcoming you to the University and telling you about what different kind of communities you can join to expand your network, socialise and of course cultivate your interests.

I would also advise to sign up for a “Buddy”, mostly because it will make everything easier when you have an “insider” (student that are already studying at QUT) that can help you out with whatever questions you might have and show you around at the campus etc. etc. You will also get a “buddy group” with other exchange student, which is a nice way to meet new people.

Beside the first week of the semester, the communities at the university arrange a lot of events and trip doing the semester. It’s a lot of fun to go on these trips and you’ll meet so many awesome people.

Photo: Sleeping on the beach, Moreton Island

Brisbane city

Photo: Brisbane city

Brisbane is, as I said in the beginning, located on the east coast, which is perfect location for weekend trips up and down the east coast. The east coast is known for all its beautiful beaches, wild backpacking life, diving or snorkelling at Great Barrier Reef, surfing, national parks, beautiful rain forests, you name it. The most important thing – the amazing weather of course! Get ready for a good lot of sunshine.

Brisbane as a city, is a lot smaller than Sydney and Melbourne, but it’s a good size city. Good nightlife, you’ll definitely experience the bar street in Fortitude Valley. If you are out for a good coffee, vintage shops, cosy café it’s happening in West End or Paddington. There is also a Lagoon in the city, which is a big outdoor pool area located 5 minutes from the main campus, so no excuse for not putting on your swimwear and take a dip in the pool after class.

A most do weekend trip is heading down for a surf lesson in Byron Bay and enjoy the cosy lifestyle, the beaches, the nightlife and the hipster cafés.

The beauty of travelling

Photo: Camping on the beach on Whitehaven beach, Whitsundays.

Photo: Roadtrip from Brisbane to Cairns.

The best thing with Australia is that it’s a beautiful country that will give you experiences and memories for life. The nature is outstanding, the culture, the outgoing Aussies, the crazy wildlife. The country has so much to offer, so please, while you are there, take as much time as you can before or after your semester to explore the country. Rent a camper and go on a road trip, it’s the best way to experience the country and you’ll see so many beautiful places down the road!

Photo: Fitzroy Island

I hope this will encourage you to go on the amazing adventure of being an exchange student.


Cheers mate for reading this.

Isabella Boll

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