Adjusting to Student Life in Australia
So, you’ve arrived in Australia after months of planning for your international study abroad experience. You may be surprised in your first few weeks at how the initial excitement has worn off and left you feeling homesick, out of place and perhaps even a bit depressed.
Don’t worry. It’s normal to experience a certain amount of culture shock when you uproot and move your life to a new place, even if it’s just a temporary move for an international study program. There is bound to be a period of adjustment. Follow these tips to keep a healthy outlook on your experience in Australia and make the most of your time there.
Validate Your Adjustment Difficulties
You might wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” and feel silly for experiencing negative attitudes about studying in Australia. You put so much effort into planning for your stay, shared your excitement with family and friends, worked hard to save money for Australia and anticipated the best time of your life. And now, you can’t help thinking you’ve made a huge mistake.
You didn’t, of course, make a mistake. And there is nothing wrong with you. It makes perfect sense to miss your loved ones, feel frustrated at not knowing where things are located or be intimidated by language differences. It’s reasonable to feel disoriented in your new environment and overwhelmed by what may be different classroom expectations than you’re accustomed to. And it’s normal to have your sense of self-confidence suddenly shaken.
Take heart in knowing that these feelings are not uncommon to the international student experience, and they are almost always short-lived.
Remember Why You Came to Australia
When you were planning your international study program in Australia, you probably told people that you were excited to study abroad because you wanted to learn new things, meet new people, experience a different way of life and add to your global, cultural understanding, all while learning in Australia’s highly regarded university system. If it helps, write these goals down as well as any others you originally set when you decided to study in Australia.
Take a look at your list and recognise that it was a whole lot easier to dream those goals than it will be to achieve them. But if that weren’t the case, your goals wouldn’t be goals at all. Tying your shoes is easy, so you’d never put it on a list of things to do; it hasn’t been on your list of goals since you were 4 years old. Back then, learning to tie your shoes was confusing, and as you watched your parents do it, it took a few times before you understood. But you did, eventually.
Similarly, you can achieve your original goals for studying in Australia. But they may take a little time, come with a little confusion and cause you a little frustration. Remind yourself that your goals are things that you can’t do perfectly on your first try. Just like your first attempt to tie your shoes wasn’t perfect, adjusting to international student life in Australia won’t be perfect or easy at first, either.
Stay Active and Get Involved
You’ll adapt more quickly to life in Australia if you stay active and social. Take the time you need to communicate with loved ones at home, but don’t let homesickness dominate your days.
Join study groups or club sports, get a part-time job, volunteer for a charity organisation or attend services at your preferred house of worship. Interact with other international students, as well as Australian students.
Remember that it may take a little while before you feel completely comfortable in Australia, but making new friends will help enormously.