Hi lovely travellers, I am Ilse from the travelblog op reis met Ilse and I welcome you to read about my adventure living in Australia as a teenager for four years. Sit back and enjoy everything that Australia has to offer.

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Studying in Australia as a teenager - wave rock
Hi! It's me at the beautiful Wave Rock

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About Australia

Australia is an amazing country in the southern hemisphere. It is located in the continent of Oceania.
It is the world’s sixth-largest country and English is its official language. Canberra is the capital, while Sydney is the largest city in Australia. 
It has beautiful nature/wildlife, great cities, and lovely people. Another great aspect is that the climate from Australia is nice with opposite seasons than the Netherlands, my birth country. 

Studying in Australia as a teenager

Why I moved to Australia

My life in the Netherlands
Till the age of 11, I lived happily in The Netherlands. I had a bunch of friends and I liked going to school. Just before the summer holidays when I was in year 5, things changed for me due to the emigration.
Luckily I could still participate in year 6 camp just at the beginning of the school year in the Netherlands, which was amazing. Then in September the whole family emigrated to Australia for four years.

Emigration to Sydney
From the age of 11 – 15 years I lived with my parents and brother in West Pennant Hills; a suburb of Sydney.
Fortunately, I made friends quickly in the street and at school and my best friend lived within walking distance of me.
A disadvantage was that my mum always had to bring me to the shopping mall, horse riding, or to other friends who lived further away.

Studying in Australia as a teenager - my home
My home in AU

How my parents told me about the emigration
The reason I lived for 4 years in Australia is that my father worked for a big oil concern.
I remember very clearly how my parents told me about their plan. We were sitting at the dining table when my father told us that we have to emigrate to Australia. I had never heard of this country or the language, therefore that evening I learned that Australia lies at the other end of the world and they speak English. So because of that conversation, I lived in a suburb of Sydney during my puberty from the age of 11-15 years.
In Sydney, it will never be really cold and the summers are hot. So for the weather, I can really recommend Australia, because it is so great! 

Studying in Australia as a teenager
At the beautiful Ayers Rock with a campervan! Dream coming true.

Things you have to know about AU

Australia is huge and the distances to other places are big, even from our house to school was more than half an hour. You really need a driving license to be able to go to shopping malls for instance.
Nonetheless, be aware that if you have a driving license from another country, you need to do the exam in Australia to get an Australian driving license. You are only allowed to drive with your driving license from another country for a couple of months. In Australia, they drive left and from the age of 16, you as a parent are allowed to teach your children.

Every time when we were at the shopping center we made a photo of where we parked the car, as it is that huge and easy to lose the car.

In summer the temperature can go above 40 degrees Celcius, which means it is very important to protect yourself from the sun. For instance, wear a hat, use 30+ sunscreen, and from 11:00 – 14:00 hours, it is wise not to go in the sun. Besides that, as the summers are so hot, it is nice to have a pool in the garden.

Studying in Australia as a teenager (2)
Which way would you go?

What is it like to live/study here?

As a teenager, it is great to live in Australia. The main difference is that we had to wear school uniforms to school and everything is stricter at school (than in the Netherlands).
During my stay in Australia, I went to a private school in a school uniform with a school bus. Going to school in Australia was a great experience, as it is very different than in the Netherlands.
One of those differences is that you have to wait outside the classroom till the teacher is there, then stand behind your seat and say ‘Goodmorning Mrs….’. Here I reckoned that the Australian children have more respect for the teachers, as in the Netherlands.
On some days there was mufti day, which means that we were allowed to come in our own clothes to school and had to donate $2 to a charity.

The Hills Grammer School - Studying in Australia as a teenager
The Hills Grammar School

Australian people

The Australian people are very kind and helpful. Above all, when I arrived in Australia I did not speak English. So with my dictionary, I started a conversation and at the end of the day, I walked to the parking spot with 2 friends speaking English.


Furthermore, the culture of the Australians is amazing, mainly because they are very laid back and relaxed.
In the Netherlands, everything has to be done at that same moment, while in Australia, they do not have stress.
Next to that, they shorten a lot of words, so barbecue will be barbie or they greet you like G’Day mate.

Studying in Australia as a teenager
Surfing is something you can do perfectly in Australia!


Just as in the Netherlands you can eat perfectly in Australia. Due to the mix in cultures, there is a variety of food. I love the food courts in the big malls, usually, there is a food court at the bottom level of a shopping center. This is a big space with in the middle tables and at the side different booths with different choices of food. It is great, but also a lot of noise.


If you compare the prices of Australia with the Netherlands then I can mention that the prices are the same. It is not a big difference from the Netherlands. 

Studying in Australia as a teenager
The Olga's near Ayers Rock

(Dis)advantages of living in Australia

I love Australia! The people, amazing sights that the country has to offer and the weather are all advantages that I have discussed before.
Personally, I did not want to leave Australia, but as a 15-year old, I did not have a choice. So when the work of my dad was finished we left.

One disadvantage
It’s difficult to come up with a disadvantage, but if I really have to mention a disadvantage of living in Australia then they are the distances.
In particular, as a teenager, it is a shame that your parent has to bring you everywhere and you have less freedom.
From the age of 16, your parents are allowed to teach you how to drive. Then after you get your driving license you have to drive with an L on the car for a couple of years. My brother was lucky enough to get to drive in Australia.

Dutch people
Because my dad worked at an oil firm, there were a lot of Dutch people. Once in a while, we had barbecue evenings, which was nice. There were only no Dutch children my age, unfortunately.

See these other articles about living abroad:

Language barrier

In Australia, they speak English but don’t be afraid if you can’t speak the language. The Australians are very understanding and they will make sure that you understand what they are saying.
In the beginning, I used my dictionary, which helped me to learn English. Next to that, I had extra English classes once a week which lasted two years.

Studying in Australia as a teenager

Tips for people who want to do the same

Just go for it!!! You will not regret the adventure. If I had the opportunity I will do it again and I always have a dream to live in Australia again. 

Favorite destination in Australia


This is a difficult choice, as Australia really is a gorgeous country with amazing landscapes.
If I really have to choose then I choose the city Melbourne in the state of Victoria, because his city has a feeling like it is a European city. The center is compact and in the city center, there is a tram. The only disadvantage is the weather, as it is not uncommon to have 4 seasons in 1 day

melbourne- flinders street station Studying in Australia as a teenager
Melbourne Finders Station


The Outback with Uluru, the Olga’s, and Kings Canyon are amazing. The feeling of driving in the Outback and not seeing another car the whole day, makes you feel humble. But never go alone or without spare tires, food, and plenty of water, and always let people know where you are going.
It is a beautiful part of Australia, but you have to prepare to go here because it can happen that you will not get help for a couple of days if you might need it.

East Coast

The east coast of Australia is the more touristic coast. Here you find beautiful beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island (a desert island where you can drive with a jeep on the beach), and also great cities. Besides that, it’s the coast for backpackers! 

Studying in Australia as a teenager - Fraser Island
Jeeps on the beach in Fraser Island

West Coast

The west coast with the biggest city Perth is for nature lovers. You can drive endlessly along this coast and enjoy the scenic landscapes. This is very beautiful if you ask me. 


Lastly, the wildlife of Australia is one of my favorites. This immense country has a number of animals that they are famous for, the kangaroo, koala, and dingo (Australia’s wild dog) are examples of that.

It is amazing to see the kangaroo and the koala in the wild or in a nature park, especially the Australia Zoo in Brisbane from the deceased Steve Irwin is a must to go to! In the zoo, you will find these famous animals.
During my backpack trip, I luckily had the opportunity to see the wildlife of Australia quite a lot, like on Kangaroo Island near the coast of Adelaide or on Philips Island by Melbourne.
Every time it was amazing to see these animals up close and sometimes I was even able to feed them!  When I was doing a tour on Fraser Island I saw a dingo up close with sunset, that was an amazing moment that I treasure, it was absolutely beautiful!  

Studying in Australia as a teenager - Baby kangaroo
I fed a kangaroo!
Studying in Australia as a teenager-Koala
Cute koala
Studying in Australia as a teenager - dingo
A dingo from up close!

See these other articles about living abroad:

What do people have to do in Australia before they leave?

You can not leave Australia without seeing the fireworks show in Sydney from the Sydney Harbor Bridge. All-day you are waiting on your spot till the count down begins, which is a great experience. 

If you are not afraid of heights, I definitely recommend doing an excursion to walk on top of the Sydney Harbour bridge. You will have such a beautiful view! 

Studying in Australia as a teenager - Sydney opera house
Opera House in Sydney

Biggest differences between AU and NL

The main differences between Australia and the Netherlands are the distance and culture. As I mentioned before, the distances in Australia are enormous. If you want to go somewhere you always have to take the car.
Riding a bicycle is dangerous on the road. Also at school, the teachers are stricter than in the Netherlands, as you are not allowed to wear make-up or nail polish and a big mouth is not tolerated. 

I like the culture in Australia a lot, as they are more laidback. In the Netherlands, everything is in such a rush, which I like less. 

Studying in Australia as a teenager -bord langste rechte weg 2

My future plans

I would love to take my boyfriend to see all the places where I grew up as a teenager. I see Australia as my second country and I can not wait to visit it again. The last time I was in AU was in 2006/2007 when I went backpacking throughout the country. That was an amazing experience!

I hope you liked reading about my adventure of living in Australia as a teenager.
If you are looking for more adventures in Australia, you can read about my experience in Melbourne, The Outback, Sydney, and the New Years Show on my own website www.opreismetilse.nl, or click on the link below.
If you have any questions let me know in a comment or message me! 

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