You might be excited about coming to Australia to study, having heard stories of cute creatures, endless beaches and long summers. But while Australia has a lot to offer, moving countries can be a challenge and it could be worth being prepared before you launch into your stint as an international student.
There's plenty you should know about what it will be like to study in Australia. Some things you'll find out when you arrive, but here are a few standout things to help you prepare for your new home down under.
1. You need a visa
International students need a Student Visa (subclass 500) to study in Australia. This enables you to study full-time in Australia and is valid for the duration of your course. To be eligible for this visa, you must already have been accepted into a registered full-time course in Australia.
2. You may need health insurance
Unless you are a student from a country where international healthcare costs are covered by their own governments, you'll need to take out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the whole of your time in Australia. This is a requirement of the student visa, as it helps pay for any necessary medical treatment.
Beyond satisfying the requirements of your visa, OSHC can help cover you for accidents and injury should they unfortunately arise.
3. The grading system may be different from your educational institution
Australian grades are not the same as those in some other countries. For example, a first class mark may be graded with an HD (for High Distinction) instead of A or A+. Find out how this will affect your grades if you're planning on returning to your home country to complete your course.
4. Australia is expensive
You might find the cost of living in Australia high compared to many other countries. It could be a good idea to scope out what kind of weekly expenses you might expect and how much each of these will cost.
To obtain a student visa you'll have to prove you can meet a minimum living cost of $19,830 per year, but you might find that what you actually end up spending is more, especially if you're planning on studying and living in one of the bigger cities.
5. But you could be able to work
A student visa allows you to work for up to 40 hours a fortnight in term time, not including any work you have to do as part of your course. You can work full time during the holidays. However, you can't start working in Australia until after your study course has begun.
6. The transport system can be confusing
The public transport system in Australia consists of buses, trains, ferries and trams. In some, but not all states, international students are entitled to concessions on some or all of these.
Driving laws also differ between states, although most will allow you to drive with a current overseas driving licence – again it pays to do your research before you arrive.
Don’t forget that we drive on the left-hand side of the road in Australia!
7. The seasons are upside-down
If you’re coming from a Northern Hemisphere country such as anywhere in Europe or the USA, you’ll find yourself arriving in a different season to the one you left at home! The Australian summer is your winter, so you’ll need to pack accordingly.
In addition, Australia operates in a completely different time zone, so be prepared to experience some jet lag when you arrive.
8. Australia is extremely diverse
Australia doesn’t have a large population for the size of the country – only 23 million – but over 25 percent of Australian residents weren’t born here. This is one of the reasons why over 200 languages are spoken. English is the official language and probably what you’ll be expected to study in – another thing to double check before you arrive!
9. You might find some of the food unusual
Depending on where you study in Australia, you’ll hopefully be able to find some familiar flavours from home. Along with a multicultural society, Australia boasts a pretty varied foodie scene.
For a traditional taste of Australia, however, you can sample kangaroo, lamingtons, Tim Tams and (if you’re feeling really brave) you might even try Vegemite!
10. Don’t underestimate the size of Australia
Australia’s landmass is a huge 7.96 million km2. So if you’re thinking you’ll easily be able to see all our major sights and cities in one visit, it’s highly unlikely unless you’ve got a lot of time and money to play with! Plan the things you really want to see and find out if your expectations are realistic – this could save you disappointment further down the road.
Being aware of some of the differences to expect when you study in Australia could help ease any anxiety you might be feeling about such a big life decision. There’s plenty you’ll learn once you arrive too – not least the multitude of slang words Aussies use – so pack those bags and get ready for an education outside your university’s walls