Survival Guide for International Students in Australia
Studying in Australia is an incredibly rich and rewarding experience for international students. Not only do they get the opportunity to study at some of the best universities in the world, but they also receive the eye-opening experience of learning in another country and taking in the culture that goes along with that. However, not everything about coming to study in Australia is easy. Many students struggle with confidence, expenses and an inability to study English texts. Here we will look at a few handy tips for international students entering university in Australia for the first time.
Don’t be afraid
Unfortunately, Australia has a reputation in many countries as being — to put it bluntly — a racist nation. While this is true in some areas, it’s important to remember that these people are in an extreme minority. Furthermore, young Australians — the type you’ll meet at university — have had the advantage of growing up in probably the most multicultural country in the world, and any derogatory attitudes from the past have all but vanished. The Aussie students you’ll encounter will be friendly, cheerful and open to any attitudes and cultures.
Another thing to remember is that most Australians like to laugh at themselves, and they also take pleasure in “ribbing” or making fun of each other. It’s important not to take offence to this; the chances are anything that is said will be in jest, and even on the rare occasion that it isn’t, it’s best to laugh it off anyway. People will respect you more for having a carefree attitude then taking yourself too seriously.
Australia is by no means a cheap place to live, and when you add the fact that the Australian dollar is particularly strong right now, chances are you’ll have a harder time getting by over here than you would have, say, five years ago. Undoubtedly you’ll need money for living expenses, gas and electricity, food, transport, and general necessities.
A conservative estimate would put your living expenses at $300-350 per week, depending on where you live. This is on top of costs for university fees, textbooks and other requirements. If you haven’t come over with a lot of money, you may well need to find a job to help get by; your university student centre can often help with ideas in this regard, and you can also try websites such as www.seek.com.au or check classifieds sections of local newspapers.
Now, here is the best thing about being a student in Australia: you’re entitled to student discounts! These discounts apply to everything from public transport to cinema tickets, and generally they’ll give you half off the regular price. Ask your university’s student centre for a list of places your student card can be used for discounts, and jump online and Google “student discounts” to discover other great opportunities.
If English is your second language, the toughest thing about coming to university in Australia may be breaking down the language barrier. While you may be able to get by in conversation, particularly with Australian university students who are warm and willing to help out, you may struggle when it comes to the work you’ve been given.
Writing essays, taking exams and studying long notes can be tough enough in your own language; having a go in a different language can be a nightmare and may affect your marks for your course. Read books and watch as much English-speaking TV as you can, engage in conversations with groups of English speakers, and consider attending English school to help get on top of the language.
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