Wellbeing An international student’s guide to making connections November 16 2021
Tracy McBeth Tracy McBeth Journalist

If a global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that connecting with people is more important than ever.

And let’s face it – we’re social creatures. Research even suggests that stronger relationships are better for our overall health and wellbeing.

But for many international students, keeping up the connections has been put to the test during COVID. Being separated from friends, family and new opportunities has been tough. 

So, if you’re continuing your studies in Australia, or arriving in the new year – now’s a good time to reinforce the importance of making connections. And with these tips, we hope we can help you along the way. 


Find your people online

COVID’s done its best to disrupt the way we live. But thanks to technology, we’re more connected than ever. And, with a little knowhow, we can maintain (and even strengthen) our sense of community and social lives online. 

Whatever your interests, passions, beliefs, identity, sexuality or cultural background, you’ll find like-minded people to connect with through social media platforms like Facebook, apps like Meetup, event websites like Time Out, online forums and more. 

But don’t forget about the relationships you already have. Even if they’re on the other side of the world, simply seeing a friendly face on a video call, or hearing a loved one’s voice on the phone, can immediately make you feel more connected. So, get the calendar out and schedule in some regular dates.


Sign up to campus life

One of the best things about Australian education institutions? They’re like micro communities. So, whatever you’re into – dance, football, music, languages, fitness, film – chances are there’ll be a club, society, team or social group that’s into it just as much as you are. It’s an easy way to connect with your international community, as well as your local one. 

Another great way to connect with people – especially if you’re new to campus and the country – is attending orientation. Everyone’s in the same boat, so it’s a perfect time to meet new people in similar situations, and make some solid friendships early on. 

If it suits your budget and lifestyle, it’s worth looking into student accommodation too. There’s something special about having friendly faces down the hall, meeting people from all walks of life, and feeling like you’re part of – and contributing to – a small community.  


Start working or volunteering

Looking for a job? Whether it’s something casual between study, or you want to kickstart your career – working is a great way to meet people, expand your social circle and find a sense of connection outside of your studies.

It doesn’t have to be paid work either. Volunteering for an organisation you care about, or doing an internship in the industry you hope to work in, can open you up to all kinds of social and professional opportunities.   

Chat to your career services team if you need help with drafting resumes, looking for jobs or understanding what your student visa allows you to do while working in Australia. For more information on what you need to know, you can also check out Study Australia.

 

Build up your English language skills

In Australia, you’ll be surrounded by many different languages (including your own). But if English isn’t your first language, and you’re keen to improve it, then it’s worth getting some help. 

Your institution likely offers bridging courses and language programs, or can at least direct you to some externally. Either way, boosting your English may help you feel more confident connecting with locals, landing a job, or simply having more conversations with more people. Plus, with all those clubs and societies you’ll sign up to, there’ll be no shortage of practice.


Know there’s help if you need it

Through your institution, you’ll likely have access to practical support, services and resources. And if you feel like you’re struggling, there’ll likely be helpful counselling services too. 

Above all, be kind to yourself. Making connections can be hard enough – let alone during a global pandemic! It can take time to find your people and your community, but if you’re open to new opportunities (and support when you need it), you might be surprised at how much you thrive.

 

 

Students Wellbeing Learn more about our Overseas Student Health Cover

Visit our OSHC Student Hub for information on your cover plus tips on what to do if you’re sick, how to make claims and more.  

Find out more
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Tracy McBeth Tracy McBeth Journalist Tracy is a journalist with a passion for promoting good health; both mentally and physically.