Arriving in your destination country after years of dreaming and months of hard work definitely is a great feeling. With a lot of work and patience finally, you are in your new home with many surprises and unique commotions.
In the upcoming months, you will experience a different culture, lifestyle and the fun of meeting new people from all over Australia and the world. Even with the challenges as an international student your time in Australia will be one of the most memorable, fulfilling and rewarding times of your life.
The first few days and weeks can be more challenging than you expect, but as you settle into the new surroundings you will find your way around.
And when you have just arrived it’s obvious to have questions like:
- How will I find accommodation?
- How do I find out all the traffic rules and follow them?
- How will I adjust to the Australian culture?
- How do I commute on public transport? And much more.
In order to minimize those questions, here we have prepared a full detailed guide to make this process a little easier for you. It includes all the important things that you need to know and may help you anticipate some of the many questions you may have after arriving in Australia.
Note on Vaccination Requirements: From July 6th, 2022 the Australian Government has announced that people are able to travel to Australia without being required to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status. Many universities strongly encourage individuals to remain up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations but they will no longer require evidence of vaccination in order to access campus.
Get a SIM card and set up your mobile phone
The first and foremost thing you need to do is set up your phone. It’s important to have a mobile phone connection with good mobile internet packages which will help you connect with your family overseas and the people you will meet in Australia.
Some of the major mobile phone providers such as Telstra, Optus, Amaysim, Vodafone, Lyca all offer good data, calling plans, and student discounts. Among Testra and Optus are the best service providers that allow the most coverage across Australia.
While searching for a new phone plan go through the following things:-
- Choosing a pre-paid or post-paid plan
- Which provider to choose
- Inclusions (data, calls, texts)
Purchasing a sim card is an easy task. You can either order it online or head to a local phone store to purchase it. After that, you will be able to follow the instructions to activate and top up monthly. There are also other providers out there, so ensure you shop around for the best deal.
Please note that free Wi-Fi is not as accessible in Australia as it is in other countries, so a SIM plan with plenty of mobile data will be a good idea.
Also, don’t forget to contact your family back home to let them know you’ve safely arrived.
Learn to use Public Transport
Whether you are taking public transport, or you are being picked up from the airport by your education provider, it is necessary to have all the details including the time, the route and, the institutions contact details if your travel has been arranged by them. All cities in Australia have many different transport options available for getting around.
Each major Australian city has its own public transport card such as in Melbourne it’s the Myki, the Opal card in Sydney and the Translink card in Brisbane. Furthermore, you’ll be able to purchase and load money onto these cards at any train station, and some bus and tram stops.
You can also use a transport app as each of the states has its own public transport network. Cities like Victoria use the PTV app, New South Wales mainly uses the Opal Travel app and Queensland mainly uses MyTransLink. If you’re unsure then your university can advise you on which app to download. You can see the schedule of buses, trams and trains to get to your desired destinations which will help you plan your trip ahead on time.
You also need to purchase your public transport card from any train station, bus stops, or any 7/11 convenience store. Once you get it, you’ll have to keep topping it up with money so that you can tap on it while getting on and getting off a train or bus.
Tip: – In Adelaide you will travel on public transport using a metroCARD. Alternatively, you can also use your debit or credit card to tap on and off the city’s trams/trains.
Settle into your accommodation
If you are not staying with family or friends, ideally, you need to book your accommodation prior to landing in Australia. On-campus accommodation is quite popular, so make sure you apply far in advance.
Also, if you’ve booked privately then you can contact your student accommodation provider so that all you need to do is turn up with a form of identification (ideally your passport) to check in and show to your new room.
Generally, accommodation options include homestay, university halls of residence and a unit shared with other students. It’s difficult to secure a flat or homestay while you’re overseas, so finding a homestay when you first arrive is a great option.
Finding a place to stay can be another sizeable expense you need to transfer money for, especially if you’re staying in a unit, landlords usually require a deposit of a few weeks’ rent for security on the property, not including the first installment of rent in advance.
Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN)
In order to be successfully registered to pay tax you will need a Tax File Number (TFN). For this, your employer can provide you with the paperwork for this once you commence employment.
If you haven’t yet commenced employment, you can apply for a TFN online at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website which is free of cost. And to apply, you’ll need your passport, address in Australia, a telephone number and a valid email address.
Open an Australian Bank Account
Before establishing an account, you need to gather up some of your documents to complete the Australian Government’s 100-point identity check. And to do that, you need to provide either your passport, student card and/or driver’s license, credit card, telephone or electricity bill. You also need to show your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) document and Tax Identification Number to the bank.
Some of the Australian Banks such as Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and NAB offer account options that are tailored specifically to international students. Opening a bank account is an easy process which can be done online or in a bank branch store. You won’t need to travel far if you want to set your account in person as there are many branch stores for the major banks throughout all Australian cities.
Transferring money from a foreign account can be easily done once you set up your bank account.
Get Your Student ID card
Another major thing you need to do is get your student card.
With your student ID card, you can access buildings, computer suites, and printers on campus, as well as allowing you to borrow books from the library, access Concession fares on public transport, and use other student discounts.
Be Ready for the Orientation programs arranged by your university
You may know that every university holds an orientation week, or ‘O-Week’ at the beginning of the study semester. Attending those orientations will help you get familiar with some basic yet essential things needed to survive in Australia.
It involves many social and academic events and activities, designed to welcome students to the new academic period where you’ll also become familiar with the layout of your university campus and meet fellow students, also some of your tutors and lecturers.
So, make sure you get in touch with your university after arrival and take part in all the welcome and orientation programs they have to offer. These kinds of programs play a crucial role in helping international students know about their rights and duties to live in Australia.
Don’t miss out on these programs as you’ll also get to meet fellow international students to start making friends and connections in your university.
Arrange your digital OSHC card
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a special health insurance coverage for international students which are designed to help international students cover the costs of medical and hospital care that they may need while in Australia. They need to purchase OSHC before arrival.
So as soon as you land, you need to inform your OSHC provider so that your insurance starts covering your medical expenses.
For additional information, check out the website of your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) provider for information about how to arrange a digital card that you can begin using right away.
Adjust Your New Time Zone
When you first arrive in Australia, it’s important to do your best to adjust to the time difference and this means staying up when it seems terribly difficult, or trying to sleep when not tired.
If you remain disciplined from the beginning, you’ll thank yourself later as you will be able to adjust to the time difference faster.
Obviously, the time difference makes it difficult to speak with loved ones back home but when you establish a time that suits everyone beforehand you will be able to speak or skype without waking up early or staying up late. And this way it will be easy for all.
Sign up for social programs, sports & clubs
Meeting new people and making friends is exciting, but it is also an important part of settling into your new life is establishing connections. A great way of meeting people is having one-on-one conversation with other students.
You can also participate in the programs organized by the University such as:
- Language and Cultural Engagement program – join in regular social events, and practice languages you’re learning
- Global IQ Connect event- meet in small groups to enhance your intercultural skills
- CommuniTea – enjoy a snack and chat with other students at this free weekly event
- Sports and clubs – includes interest-based clubs, cultural clubs, religious clubs, politics clubs, academic clubs, arts clubs, and more.
Joining any event, sports or clubs is a great way to meet people outside of your class, as well as mix with local students.
Know your rights as an international student
It is necessary to know your rights as an international student before or after arrival. As an international student, you can apply for a work permit only after you arrive in Australia which costs AUD 50. You need to have a Tax File Number (TFN) to pay the taxes before filing out the employment declaration form.
Also, you need to apply to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) of the Australian Government for permission to work 20 hours per week. You can work during your classes and full-time on vacations.
Some of the rules and regulations that an international student needs to follow:
- The students are expected to study-full time programme
- You must attend 80% of your scheduled lectures (by law the education institutions are required to maintain attendance) to keep your enrolment.
- When your student visa expires, you need to renew it immediately if you plan to stay in Australia.
- You must withdraw from the course you are enrolled in when your address changes or you transfer to another educational institution.
- Also, students cannot work more than 20 hours a week when the university is in session.
Get a Job
In Australia, there is a healthy job market for prospective employees in all major cities. It’s fantastic to see how the hospitality, finance and construction industries are always hiring. In the hospitality industry Handing out your CV in person is always appreciated.
Some of the websites like Seek, Gumtree and CareerOne are very useful for job hunting. Applying to join an employment agency can aid you in finding employment in the industry of your choice. You can choose it to be ongoing work or temporary, casual roles.
Locate a Supermarket
There are numerous stores throughout all major Australian cities but some of the main supermarket chains in Australia are Woolworths, Coles, and ALDI. And there’s no doubt that there will be one of these supermarkets close by the place you live or study.
If you want to save money then ALDI is the best option for you. However, discount items can be found regularly in Woolworths and Coles, and the products are often a little better.
Explore your city to the Maximum
It sure is a difficult task to shift to a new country, especially as an international student without proper planning. Even the people who have travelled before find it hectic to plan and prepare for the things that are required for the place, they are moving in. So, to settle in and make your life easy, you must explore.
Australia is a beautiful country. And the best way of adjusting here is to explore your local area as much as possible. This will give you a general idea of your surroundings and help you with adjusting to the area you are living and studying in.
Nowadays, many universities are offering various discounted tours and trips to help international students explore the local area as well as some popular tourist destination spots.
We also recommend you take advantage of these services.
Shifting to a new place other than the place you have lived is scary. But you need to remember that you are not alone, many other students have come from overseas and they know how you are feeling right now, reaching out to them or others will make your own journey much easier. So, try to make friends as much as possible, also attend as many social events as you can, and your Orientation Week.