Tips for New and Prospective International Students in Australia
Australia welcomes many international students to its highly regarded institutions of higher learning each year. Some students stay an entire academic year; others study in Australia for only a semester.
No matter the duration of your study abroad experience down under, here are some tips especially for new and prospective students on how to make the transition to international study in Australia a smooth one.
How to Begin Your Study Abroad Program in Australia
Your study abroad experience in Australia will begin right at your own home school and it involves more than simply packing your bags. Your school most likely will have an office or department of international study. Make an appointment to speak with an international student counselor well in advance of your anticipated year or semester in Australia.
An international student counselor can advise you of the proper procedures to apply for admission into an Australian university and guide you in obtaining the proper travel documents as well as any immunizations or mandatory insurance that may be required.
What to Bring to Australia as an International Student
You will quickly realise that it is impossible to pack an entire semester’s worth of personal belongings into just a few suitcases. For that reason, consider carefully what is essential and what can be purchased once you arrive in Australia.
Since your clothing will make up the bulk of belongings that will travel with you to Australia, make sure you have investigated the seasonal weather in the part of Australia where you will be studying. Australian semesters typically begin in February and July, the former marking Australia’s summer season and the latter marking Australia’s winter.
Your small electronic devices, such as cellular phones and digital music players, are welcome in Australia, but you will need to purchase Australian-compatible power adaptors for charging.
Do not bring food from your home country into Australia; it will likely be confiscated upon your arrival.
Living Arrangements While You Study in Australia
It is best to have your living arrangements already settled prior to arriving in Australia. Your host university’s department of international students will likely be a great resource in finding appropriate accommodations and may even be able to assist in matching you with a roommate or roommates.
Popular housing options among Australia’s international students include host families, campus residence halls and rental flats. Keep in mind that housing in Australia can be expensive and highly competitive. For this reason, begin your housing search well before you plan to arrive in Australia, and plan your finances accordingly.
At the very least, book short-term accommodations in advance of your arrival so you have a place to stay temporarily if you prefer to conduct an in-person search for more permanent housing.
Important Things to Do When You Arrive in Australia
You likely chose international study in Australia not only for the valuable education you will receive in the classroom, but also for the opportunity to immerse yourself in Australian culture and lifestyle.
In addition to securing your housing, there are several steps you will want to take upon arrival in order to set yourself up to live just like an Australian resident. You will likely want to open an Australian bank account shortly after you arrive, and you may want to consider working part-time during your stay in Australia. Non-residents with a student visa are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week.
You may or may not find yourself living some distance away from your Australian university, the nearest grocery, bank, entertainment venues, your workplace and other important routine destinations. While Australia’s metro cities offer plenty of public transportation via trains, buses, trams and ferries, you may opt to purchase or rent a vehicle. Non-residents may acquire an international driver’s license, which allows legal driving on Australia’s roads, but one can only be used for up to three months. Since your stay is likely to exceed three months, you may consider getting an Australian driver’s license.
Your host university will no doubt conduct a new student orientation program, which will include orientation activities especially for international students. Make sure you arrive in Australia in time for orientation, which should be held prior to the semester’s classes starting, since it will provide valuable guidance on establishing yourself in Australia.