The Grinch stole 2020 — so even the biggest Scrooges are more desperate than ever to salvage holiday cheer in a year trashed by a deadly pandemic, nasty political mudslinging and civil unrest. It’s trending. One only need look outside to see the lights.
On Thursday night, Maya Robinson-Napier put the finishing touches on her first-ever Christmas decorations outside her home near Charlotte, NC. This illuminated display, which includes an 18-foot inflatable Frosty the Snowman and 13 champagne-colored arches that glow above a walkway, not only aims to brighten spirits in general — but also to honor the spirits of her mother and father, both of whom the 38-year-old lost under lockdown.
Australia is the largest country, geographically, and is a continent in itself. It lies in the southern hemisphere so the weather changes are opposite than those of India. Australia has five of the 30 best cities in the world for students to live in based on student mix, affordability, quality of life, and employment opportunities. The capital of Australia is Canberra.
Australia has the third-highest number of international students in the world after the United Kingdom and the United States. It also has seven of the top 100 universities in the world. Australia's national quality assurance system is unique in its structure and rigor. The Australian Quality Training Framework has been set up by the government to strengthen the quality assurance processes in education.
College Fit: At the higher education level, students have a wide range of options when they choose a college or university. Although there are agencies that attempt to rank colleges and universities, the concept of “fit” is also important. The GPA* of admitted students are important, but majors offered, location, number of students enrolled, and campus culture are all factors influencing a prospective student’s decision. Some colleges and universities are publicly funded, while others are privately supported.
*GPA means grade point average. It is the average of all grades received.
Popular student destinations: The top universities in Australia are The Australian National University, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne, The University of Western Sydney, and Monash University (in no particular order). The area of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia is the centre of all its renowned academic institutes. Most of the best colleges in the country are situated in cities like Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. About 107,673 Indian students are studying in Australia during the academic year 2018-19. Accounting, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Health Care, Information Technology, and Hotel Management are the popular courses Indian students pursue in Australia.
From November 16, 2019, Adelaide, Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional by the federal government. This allows the cities' university graduates an additional year of post-study work rights (PSWR). Also, the graduates in Darwin city can stay for two more years and Ph.D. graduates can stay up to six years. Even after receiving the regional status for migration, all cities other than Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will not be entitled to the Destination Australia scholarships. Only areas classified as 'Inner Regional Australia' to 'Very Remote Australia' remain eligible for Destination Australia. Darwin as the only capital city which has access to both the scholarship scheme and an additional two years of PSW. The number of visas set aside for regional migration will increase from 2000 to 25,000.
Safety in Australia: Australia is a multicultural society that welcomes people from other cultures, countries, and backgrounds. While the majority of Indian students studying in Australia have a positive experience of living and studying in Australia, there were a number of incidents of assault as well as of robbery during 2009 and 2010, which affected not only Indian students but also members of the larger Indian community in Australia. Presently, no such incidents have been reported and active efforts have been made by the Australian government to prevent such untoward incidents from happening in future.
Australia is diverse in its geography and climate. The country is located in the southern hemisphere. This means Australia's summer starts in December and winter begins in June. Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics where the average temperatures are in the mid 20 degrees Celsius. The southern areas are in a temperate zone.
Australian Capital Territory – This region covers Canberra. It has hot, dry summers, and cold winters with occasional fog and frequent frosts. The average temperature in summers would be around 30°C to 15°C; in winters it would be around 11°C to 0°C.
New South Wales – This region covers Sydney and its weather is very relaxing all around the year. The average temperature in summers would be around 22°C to 40°C; in winters it would be around 17°C to 8°C.
Northern Territory – This region has a tropical climate, and has two distinct seasons, the 'Wet' and the 'Dry'. The Wet season spans from November until April and is characterized by increased humidity followed by monsoonal rains and storms. The 'Dry’ season, from May until October, is characterized by warm, dry sunny days and cool nights. This region covers Darwin. The average temperature in the wet season would be around 33°C to 25°C; in the dry season, it would be around 35°C to 21°C.
Queensland - Warm summers and mild winters are what you can expect here. This region covers Brisbane. The average temperature in summers would be around 20°C to 30°C; in winters it would be around 20°C to 10°C.
South Australia – This region experiences mild weather with sunshine all year round and covers Adelaide. The average temperature in summers would be around 17°C to 30°C; in winters it would be around 15°C to 6°C.
Tasmania - Snow falls in the mountains in winter. However, most people in Tasmania live in towns and cities near the coast. The ocean moderates the temperatures there. It covers cities like Hobart and Devonport. The average temperature in summers would be around 25°C to 10°C; in winters it would be around 11°C to 4°C.
Victoria – This region covers Melbourne. It enjoys warm summers, pleasant springs, mild autumns, and crisp winters. The average temperature in summers would be around 26°C to 15°C; in winters it would be around 13°C to 6°C.
Western Australia - This region covers Perth and is famous for its long days of sunshine, spotless blue skies, and brilliant beaches. The average temperature in summers would be around 31°C to 18°C; in winters it would be around 17°C to 7°C.
Australians are known to be friendly and helpful people, with a great sense of humor. Australia is considered one of the most competitive nations on Earth. This covers all areas of life including the workplace. While English is Australia’s national language, there are certain words and expressions that have come to be regarded as uniquely Australian through common usage. Some of them might seem strange to non-Australians.
Australians love their sport, both playing it and watching it. The most loved sports in Australia include Australian football, rugby, and cricket. This relatively benign climate has resulted in a country where people spend a good deal of time outdoors at beaches, in the countryside or on sporting fields as either spectators or participants.
Indians living in Australia
There were nearly 592,000 Indian immigrants living in Australia in 2018. They represent the second-largest immigrant group by country of origin, after China. Almost one-third of all Indian immigrants resided in Victoria.
Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to live in university managed accommodation, or with a private landlord. Choosing university managed accommodation can also give you a catered or self-catered option. Catered accommodation offers the benefits of your meals being cooked for you and a degree of certainty with meal costs.
If you have an idea about what you prefer, the accommodation office at your university will be able to tell you what accommodation they have available - so that’s the place to start. If you are thinking of renting from a private landlord or if your chosen university can’t offer you anything in its own residential facility, the accommodation office should be able to provide you with a list of private properties and landlords in the area.
Wherever you choose to live, you should make sure that you know your contractual rights and responsibilities. In most cases you will be asked to enter into a tenancy agreement, which you should read thoroughly before you sign.
Orientation week is mandatory for international students so ensure that you arrive before it starts. This is the time where you will be introduced to the university and its services, as well as enroll in your classes. It is essential that you read your guidebook, which is provided by the college. The guide explains each part of the admission process.
Along with sport, colleges offer extra-curricular activities that provide students a wide range of experiences. Music, drama, science and literary societies in colleges offer opportunities for outdoor education and other leisure activities. Visits to theatres, concerts, and places relevant to the courses of study such as art galleries and museums, religious centres or historical sites, scientific companies and projects are all part of college life.
These vary between study programs and levels. For each course, Indian students will need to meet a minimum English language requirement. Along with that, a minimum academic record of 65% and above in class XII will be required. Foundations and Diploma programs are available for students who have secured below 60%. The student should have completed 18 years of age before joining a degree program.
It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purposes, the actual numbers may differ from university to university.
The following documents also need to be submitted:
• Attested copies of mark sheets of class X, XII, and the Bachelor's degree (if applicable)
• At least, two academic reference letters from professors who have taught you most recently
• If you have work experience then two letters of recommendation from the employer/manager who knows you well and can comment on your professional abilities
• Statement of Purpose (SOP)
• Photocopied score reports of GMAT / IELTS / TOEFL
• Portfolio (in case of Students applying for art and design courses & architecture programs)
• Others (certificates/achievements at the state and national level and extracurricular activities)
• Proof of funds
Most of the colleges in Australia accept online applications. You will have to visit each college's website to apply. In most cases, you will have to make an account on the college website to provide your basic information, submit the scanned version of your documents, and pay application fees. You will be informed about the application process and its stages through this account. Please refer to the website of the colleges of your choice to know the process of applying.
Application fee: All colleges require that you pay an application fee while applying. The fee amount will differ depending upon the college and course being applied to, so check with individual colleges about their application fee.
Steps: The common steps to applying for admission are as follows:
• Search for colleges and courses
• Contact schools and visit websites for information
• Narrow down your list of schools
• Take the entrance exams like SAT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS
• Write SOPs and ask for LORs
• Apply to the colleges which fit your interests
• Appear for video interviews to the colleges who shortlisted you
• If accepted, apply for a student visa
SOP: A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is your introduction to the college and admission officers. It is always written in first person and describes the reason for applying to a particular college. It needs to highlight why you are a perfect fit for the college and why the college should accept you. The style of writing could differ from formal to casual, but it is important to remember that it should reflect your personality as well.
Essay: Essays are also required to be submitted by a prospective student. Essays are an important part of the university admissions process. Students may be required to write one or two essays, along with a few optional essays too. Common topics include career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, skills, experiences, and reasons for considering a particular school.
LOR: A letter of recommendation (LOR) is a reference letter written by a third party describing the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the prospective student to recommend him to the college in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. The third-party could be a professor, direct manager, etc.
Australia generally has two intakes i.e. February and July, with few universities offering multiple intakes in September & November. You should start your admission process around six months before the application deadline. Typically most universities have three deadlines, during one intake. It is up to the convenience of the students, which deadline to aim for. You should be done with your language and aptitude tests by three months before the deadline. The last three months should be dedicated to filling out the application form properly.
It is essential to ensure that the ‘complete application process’ along with appearing for interviews and visa application procedures should be complete by Nov-Dec for the February intake.
If you are looking to get admission into vocational courses, then some courses may have admissions open in January and perhaps even May or July.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are all standardized language tests, which are required to be taken for the purpose of getting admission into colleges. These follow different formats, structures, and result bands. These tests are different in various ways but many colleges ask for anyone of the results. So it's up to the student to decide which exam to appear for.
Repetition of exams: IELTS can be taken an unlimited number of times. TOEFL can be retaken as many times as wished, but cannot be taken more than once in a 12-day period. Same with PTE, it can be taken as many times as desired. You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test.
Fee: The fee for these exams is INR 14,000 for IELTS, INR 13,625 (US $180) for TOEFL, and INR 13,300 for PTE.
Time to apply: Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November so that you can apply before the first deadline. The universities you will be applying to will mention which exam results they will accept. But if they give a choice to go for either of these, then the choice depends on you. The time required to prepare for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE would depend on the existing English language proficiency. You may require 2 to 4 months of preparation before the exam date.
GMAT - The Graduate Management Aptitude Test is used to measure the abilities of the potential MBA aspirant to undertake higher education in the field of business or management. It measures the mathematical, English, and reasoning skills of the student.
GRE - The Graduate Record Examination is another test required to be taken by students applying to graduate schools to pursue MA or MS. Increasingly many business schools are also accepting GRE scores for the purpose of granting admission for an MBA.
Repetition and Fee: You can give GMAT an unlimited number of times, subject to five times a year, and a gap of 30 days between two tests. You can take these tests with a gap of 30 days from the first time. The cost of GMAT is Rs 18,797, and GRE is Rs 14,44.
Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November so that you can apply before the first deadline. The preparatory duration generally ranges from 4 to 6 months.
Average Scores: The average GMAT accepted across universities is 520. The average GRE score is 145 for Verbal, 160 for Quantitative, and 4.0 for Writing.
It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purposes, the actual scores may differ from university to university.
The first condition to start your Study in Australia process is to have an English language test like IELTS or PTE- Academic as a proof of your English language skills. Once you have this you need to follow below 7 steps for your Study in Australia Application
Apply for offer letter
The first and foremost step is to apply for a offer letter in a university or a college you choose to study. One of the most crucial factors here is to choose a course relevant to your previous studies and any work experience you may have.
Prepare for your GTE Assessment
GTE is very important to clear. If you fail GTE criteria your Study in Australia application will be refused. So prepare this document with utmost care. Mention all the points which indicate that you are a genuine student whose only intention to go to Australia is o study.
Pay for your Tuition fees
Once you have prepared your GTE documentation and got it approved by the University you pay your tuition fees to get COE to apply student visa to Australia. COE is confirmation of Enrollment for Australia
Prepare your visa file
Once you get your COE from The University you prepare for your visa documents, arrange for your medicals and any other paperwork relevant for your Study in Australia visa application.
Lodge your application
After preparing your visa file you lodge your Australia student visa application with Australian Embassy online. You pay your embassy online at this stage
Wait for the decision
After lodging your Australia student visa application you wait for the decision of your application. The current processing time for Higher education student visa applications to Australia is about 18 days to 1 month.
For any further query you may have about Australia student visa application please contact West Highlander. West Highlander based in Chandigarh is the best study In Australia consultant. Ms Parwinder Kaur one of the key team members of West Highlander is a MARA agent registered with office of Mara Australia
At the front of her lawn stands a glittering angel paying homage to her mom, Toya Hamilton, who passed away in August, at age 60, after going into septic shock. Next to it, a pine dubbed the “memory tree” invites visitors to hang an ornament in honor of their own lost loved ones. The latter installation takes on raw meaning for Robinson-Napier, whose dad, 61-year-old Reginald Robinson, died Tuesday after battling congestive heart failure and alcoholism.
“So many people have been lost this year, and I wanted something that we could put in our neighborhood for those of us who have shared losses . . . to keep [them] on our minds during the holiday season,” said Robinson-Napier. “It’s all about keeping the memory alive.”
Robinson-Napier is one of many Americans who are decking the halls for their very first time, or have amped up their typical holiday decorations with more extravagant lights and figures, to end dark 2020 on a bright note — especially as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, now having claimed 276,000 lives in the US alone.
Beyond deeply personal tributes, a larger national trend suggests Dr. Seuss’s iconic words — “The Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day” — are coming to fruition.
Americans are hungry for sweet seasonal relief
A new survey of 2,000 Americans found that 2020’s non-stop flood of bad news took a toll on 75 percent of respondents, with 70 percent of the study’s pool revealing they are “desperate” to do something positive to spread cheer each day, even if it’s just to make at least one person laugh or smile.
Or maybe even hang a string of lights? Yeah, it’s probably not just your imagination. A casual stroll or drive around your neighborhood might reveal more hardcore holiday decorama than ever before.
For Robinson-Napier, the battle to bring joy back to her family — comprised of her husband, Sean Napier, and their sons Benjamin, 6, and Christian, 3 — came during Halloween following the death of her mother. It materialized with similar over-the-top decorations, including two of Home Depot’s highly popular 12-foot-tall skeletons, which she also erected for the first time. This effort came about after Robinson-Napier had a discussion with her mom in March about how she could honor her legacy when she was gone, by asking what favorite foods the family could eat or favorite color they could wear.
“She couldn’t answer any of those questions,” said Robinson-Napier. “She always invested herself into others. My mom always went all out for us despite other things going on.”
So, Robinson-Napier realized that “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities. I’m going to go all out for my kids.”
Benjamin and Christian also have their own Christmas trees in their bedrooms, and two other decorated trees shine on the home’s entertaining areas. Previously, while living in Oakland, Calif., the family didn’t have the space to decorate — and Robinson-Napier, who worked as a health-care appeals specialist, didn’t have the time. Moreover, she lost her grandmother to pancreatic cancer about a week before Christmas in 2004, which she said put a lingering damper on the holiday season.
“I didn’t intend on it being a whole thing,” she said of her 2020 decorating spree. “Once you start, it’s kind of hard to stop. So, we just keep putting more stuff out.”
Even cynical New Yorkers are going ‘holiday HAM’
This is the time of year when native New Yorker Deanna Testa would typically be jet-setting on holiday to the Maldives, Thailand, Cuba or Italy. But in the doomsdays of 2020? She’s just piling on the Christmas lights, garland and blow-ups.
“I’m such a busy Grinch, I always forget to decorate and get gifts — but, this year, I went holiday HAM to make sure all my family and friends will get a little extra cheer, too,” said Manhattan-born Testa, 33, who runs the video department at Betches Media, an online destination for millennial memes and pop culture news. “Hell, after months of being bored, lonely and stressed out, I desperately needed a pick-me-up.”
The Yonkers transplant decorated inside and out for the first time ever — and even bought her new toy poodle the ultimate gift that keeps on giving: a treat-propelling Furbo. (FYI: Testa works remotely during the coronavirus lockdown and is fully available for hand-treating 24-7. This is peak holiday 2020 indulgence.)
“I got so many decorations for my COVID puppy, Sailor — who is basically getting me through this pandemic,” Testa says with a chuckle. Yes, Sailor is also sporting Christmas jammies — and even has her own inflatable tree and snowman.
We need brighter days to look forward to
Tara Reid, a 34-year-old pharmacy technician who lives in Hopewell, Va., opted for a spooky theme for her first-ever outdoor Christmas decorations — including 11 skeletons, figures from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” film and a projection of Santa Claus dropping off presents with bats flying around.
“I hope that I can give [visitors] a second not to think about it,” said Reid of the pandemic. “To bring them back to how things were and just be happy.”
Reid — who lives with her fiancé Jake Rotz, 45, and four children ages 8 to 16 — previously didn’t have the time to set up Christmas decorations. “But this year changed . . . our perspective,” she said, adding that after winning a local Halloween decorating contest this year — a similarly spooky effort loved by many — “I wanted to give it a try for Christmas, just to give them something to look forward to.”
This front-yard spectacle took the family a few days to install — and one night included making three trips to Target to buy more lights. Although they previously hung stockings and kept a Christmas tree inside, it’s a far cry from the zero decorations they had outdoors. Now, Reid said, the family can look forward to a new annual tradition to ring in the season.
“It’s definitely an addiction and, yes, it’s going to keep growing,” she said.
You’re never too old to get into the spirit
First-time decorator Amber Goss, a former litigation attorney who lives in Thompson’s Station, Tenn., is laying down the law in front of her home.
“It’s not something I would have ever imagined at the age of 47 that I would have a yard full of inflatables at Christmas,” said the mother of two. “But why not? I’m definitely of the [mindset] now that . . . this makes the kids happy.”
Goss, who’s now involved in a hyperlocal blog for area moms, previously didn’t have the time to dedicate to this kind of effort.
“I think, once upon a time, I bought those net lights when they were new, and I took them out of the box, and it looked too hard, so I threw them away,” she quipped.
Now, however, her yard includes a 20-foot inflatable Santa, an inflatable Baby Yoda holding a candy cane, two nearly 6-foot-high nutcracker figures and a blow-up Christmas tree.
The kids, 7-year-old son Brett and 5-year-old daughter Casey, can’t get enough of them.
“They go up and hug the blow-ups,” she said.
Size matters in 2020: Big box stores are selling out of hot decorations
“Once you’ve crossed the inflatable barrier, why not?” Goss said. “You’re there.”
She’s not the only person with an insatiable appetite for festive decor. Among this year’s hottest holiday merch: Goss’ 68-inch nutcrackers, now sold out at Walmart; Robinson-Napier’s 18-foot Frosty the Snowman, now sold out at Hammacher Schlemmer and a 4-foot reindeer unavailable at Home Depot.
While neither retailer commented on the rush they’ve faced so far this season, a Home Depot spokesperson told The Post other in-demand decorations include a 6-foot inflatable Buddy the Elf and a 12-foot inflatable Santa, both of which are in stock.
Brian Birt, a 35-year-old resident of Huber Heights, Ohio, stocked up on several thousand more lights and 10 more figures to add to his typical Christmas tableau.
“We went a lot bigger this year,” he said, adding that 2020 upgrades include two 7-foot nutcrackers from Lowe’s.
Instead of using his full display, which rocks blinking lights synchronized to music, solely to entertain his 37-year-old wife Sarah and their six children — who range from 3 months to 13 years old — the family wanted “to make this fun for the city” in an effort of giving back to the community.
For Goss, the inspiration to decorate also represented a way to stay busy these days — and her 45-year-old husband, David, has been a good sport about it. But she also drew motivation after joining a Facebook group run by a friend, the Griswolder Christmas Decorating Club, which has decoration-aficionado followers post images of their own festive flair. Thanks to its success with her children, it’s a tradition she thinks she’ll keep going.
“After the year we’ve all had, seeing families pull up to your house and looking at the display and seeing the joy in their faces of watching everything, it’s nice,” said Birt, who works as a custodian. “They can have family time together, drive around and see some cool houses. It’s nice to be able to help any way we can.”
The local feedback has been positive, and in the holiday spirit, has been full of gratitude, added Birt. One visitor messaged him on Facebook after making a recent visit, thanking him and his family for “bringing joy to our family.”
“That was nice to get a message like that,” said Birt. “It makes it feel like the hard work was all worth it.”