I touched down in Nouméa, New Caledonia, late on the evening of January 5, 2020, for an adventure of a lifetime. I was excited to be moving overseas, although somewhat scared, especially at the age of 18. However, I knew this exchange would be an amazing opportunity to grow and develop, as well as improve my French!
I am here to study, intern and undertake language training for 19 months, thanks to the New Colombo Plan Scholarship.
Early on the morning of January 6, I commenced the first day of my four-week French intensive training. I was doing private classes at the Centre de Rencontres et D’Échanges Internationaux du Pacifique (CREIPAC), which has beautiful views of the ocean. I have been studying the language for five years, so it was the perfect opportunity to improve my skills in an immersive environment.
One weekend, I took a day trip to the island, Phare Amédée. The island is famous for having the world’s smallest post office in the world, as well as one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. The lighthouse was constructed in France, being one of the first metallic lighthouses to be built in France, before being shipped to New Caledonia to help ships navigate the port of Nouméa. I had the chance to climb to the top of the lighthouse, all 247 steps, it was harder than it looks!
Before moving into my accommodation on the university campus, I spent a week living in the commune of Dumbéa, about 20 kilometres north of Nouméa, with a homestay family. This was a great opportunity to practice my French with locals. We commuted each day to French classes at CREIPAC (via the bakery!), which took about 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic. During the weekend of my stay, I visited Dumbéa river, and we had the whole place to ourselves! We were quite lucky, as I am told that it is a popular place for people to swim.
I moved onto the university campus a couple weeks ago. My bedroom has a beautiful view of the ocean!
This semester, there will be 11 international students studying at the Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, including myself. I have met other students from various countries throughout Europe and North America. It is a different feeling being an international student rather than a domestic student! The university here as approximately 3000 students, and has just opened a second campus in the north of New Caledonia.
I finished my French classes at CREIPAC last week and am currently attending Orientation events at the university. I am looking forward to commencing my classes next week, studying my Bachelor of Business (Management) in French for two semesters before interning next year!
The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government.