Overseas university spotlight: Macquarie University (Australia)

With 300 acres of lush parklands on a campus just outside Australia's largest city, Sydney, Macquarie University offers the perfect mix of big city life and tranquil surroundings.

Named after the fifth governor of New South Wales, Macquarie was founded in 1964.

Its aim: to be much more than a traditional university, through proactive collaboration with business, industry and society more widely.

Today, that approach has borne fruit, with leading companies basing their headquarters on and around Macquarie's main campus.

And the university takes practical experience seriously, with all of its degree programs co-designed with industry.

Macquarie even has its own hospital on site to ensure its students can meet requirements for practical clinical training.

I was very fortunate to participate in Macquarie's VIP Campus Showcase last month, and here are some of the highlights from that trip!

View from the university bar!
View from the university bar!

Sydney, Australia

Regularly crowned winner of the "Most Instagramable City in the World," Sydney is one of the world's most attractive places for international students.

And it's not hard to see why!

I studied a Master of Education in Sydney years ago, and my experience of the city was overwhelmingly positive; I adored the laid back Australian lifestyle and particularly Sydney's famous coffee/brekkie culture.

The city's food and music scenes are diverse and accessible, and its people are welcoming and friendly.

With warm weather, stunning coastlines and a diverse natural environment, the Sydney area is also a dream for the outdoor adventurist.

And it's not just surfing and swimming; the city offers so many opportunities to 'get out there' and soak up its beauty.

My favorite little hideaway spot, Gordons Bay
My favorite little hideaway spot, Gordon's Bay

Some of those ways include climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge itself!

Despite the height, it wasn't really that scary!

But as great as it is to visit the splendid centre of Sydney, it's also important to remember that it's a city of neighborhoods; locals don't tend to hang out in the downtown central business district (where the Opera House is located) outside of work hours.

The city's suburbs are vibrant and thriving community hubs.

And about 20 minutes by car or 45 minutes by train north of the city is where you'll find Macquarie University.

This means students can have all the benefits of exploring Sydney's neighborhoods and big city life on the weekend while also enjoying a true campus 'bubble' experience during the week.

Campus life

If you're arriving by public transport, the first thing you'll notice is that the university has its own train station stop within a few minutes' walk of campus.

The Macquarie campus is modern and roomy with a relaxed feel and plenty of green space.

It even has its own lake!

It's not all lakes and rolling hills though; the campus is also located right next to a large mall, which is well used by students.

The library is relatively new (built 10 years ago) and was the first in Australia to use the Automatic Retrieval Collection system - a temperature-controlled environment that houses the entire collection and where books are retrieved within 30 minutes by a digitally operated crane (no need to wait for days for a book to arrive!).

The colors represent eucalyptus trees!
The colors represent eucalyptus trees!

There's plenty more to experience in the library, too--for example, the temperature-controlled shades, which allow students to study comfortably when outdoor temperatures start to rise (note: it can get quite humid in Sydney!).