Overseas university spotlight: The University of Western Australia
For four years, I worked at The University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth.
I started in the Study Abroad Office and then ultimately became UWA's Regional Manager for the Americas, traveling up and down the two continents to spread the world about all UWA had to offer and to recruit students to campus.
It was my absolute dream job, and to this day -- and 100s of campus visits later -- I still believe that UWA has the most picturesque campus of any university I've seen.
And it's located in the most amazing city in the world!
Here are more of the highlights about UWA and Perth below.
First things first; we've all heard about Sydney and Melbourne.
But to me, Perth is Australia's best kept secret.
Sure, it's an extra 5-hour flight on top of a long trip to Sydney, but once you get there, it is absolutely worth it.
When I moved from Perth to Brazil and then to San Diego, not a day goes by that I don't think about how much I miss living in Perth.
In fact, one reason I chose to live in San Diego is because it's actually Perth's sister city; the two are similar in size (about 2 million people), both have a beautiful skyline, high quality of life and outstanding beaches.
And if you're not keen on the idea of going to a beach packed with people, then Perth is a fabulous solution; sometimes you can have an entire beach to yourself!
And the best sunsets!
As the capital city of WA (Australia's largest state), Perth is considered the most isolated capital city in the world, and I think this is why it's great -- it's not overrun with tourists.
It's also one of the most affordable cities in Australia, the sunniest city in Australia and the climate is just comfortable (not humid like the east coast).
But speaking of skylines, Perth has recently undergone a lot of changes and development, including a new harbor (Elizabeth Quay), new hotels, new student housing residences and new restaurants.
And for those looking to get out every once and a while, there is no shortage of options; in my four years I was fortunate enough to explore many of these!
One place I would absolutely recommend visiting is Rottnest Island ('Rotto' according to locals), which you can reach via ferry in just 45 minutes.
You can stay overnight there or go for the day, rent a bike and cycle around the car-free island, enjoy the crystal blue waters and hidden beaches and take a 'quokka selfie' with the most famous island residents.
The Margaret River wine region is also about a 3-hour drive south, Denmark (home to the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen) is about 5 hours, Esperance (where there are kangaroos on the beach) is about 8 hours, and internationally, Bali is just 4 hours on a plane.
Going north, there is the Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage Site that some say is better than the Great Barrier Reef!
There's a really interesting site called the Pinnacles.
And going east toward the Outback, there is a cool place called the Wave Rock, which is as close as I'll get to actual surfing.
I could literally talk for hours about all the reasons I love Perth, but I'll leave it at this for now.
The bottom line: you MUST check it out!
The University of Western Australia - Campus
When I say UWA has the most picturesque campus in the world, it's due to a number of factors.
First, if you're coming from the city centre, you'll have an easy a 10-minute bus ride that also happens to be one of the most beautiful commutes you'll ever find!
I just loved passing by this little boathouse on my way to work every morning!
The campus is also the closest you'll get to having a campus on the water, located just steps from Matilda Bay on the banks of the Swan River.
I used to sit here to have my lunch, and it's not uncommon to see dolphins!
In fact, there's a really nice cafe right by the water, too.
UWA's campus is also beautiful due to its sandstone buildings.
My office used to be located right here; I could literally look out my window and peer upon the Reflection Pond and its ducklings.
Want to escape into an enchanted forest? There are a number of gardens on campus, which regularly host weddings and photoshoots.
There's also an outdoor cinema called Somerville that shows movies from time to time and hosts the Perth Festival.
There's also a 24/7 library, sports oval, on-campus tavern, doctor's office, pharmacy, plenty of cafes (though my favorite one is just off campus, the Tenth State) and more.
UWA's Trading Room in the Business School is particularly impressive, where students have access to real-time data from more than 400 global markets and industry-standard software.
And last but not least, there are RESIDENT PEACOCKS in the Faculty of Arts building!
Say no more, right?
Now that I've piqued your interest with the amazing city of Perth and UWA's beautiful campus, you'll be happy to know that UWA is one of the world's leading universities as well, regularly ranked within the top 100.
It's part of Australia's Group of 8, which are the research-focused Ivy League equivalents Down Under.
Founded in 1911, UWA is a little more than 100 years old, and nowadays, there are about 25,000 students enrolled, which places it on the smaller scale for an Australian institution.
To me, it's the perfect size -- large enough to have different classmates in each subject, but small enough to still run into friends around campus.
It's a comprehensive university but is perhaps most well known for its degrees in agriculture, mining and oil and gas, marine biology, law, medicine and business.
In addition to the student housing available in the Perth city centre, UWA offers a number of residential colleges for students wanting to live on campus.
Most of them are located on the other side of the road and form what's known as College Row.
There is also the new Forrest Hall specifically for PhD students on a Forrest scholarship, and it's right on the water.
With studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments, it has to have the best views of any student housing complex!
I never studied at UWA, but I was fortunate to spend four years of my career working here and living in Perth.
From the nearby bay to UWA's various gardens, there is no academic environment more serene to help students deal with the pressures of completing a rigorous degree at one of Australia's and the world's top institutions.
Sure, it's a little extra travel time to reach the isolated city of Perth, but the rewards are endless to live and study in a place with such a high quality of life.