Most international students want to do well in their course, but some find it difficult when they are settling into life in a new country or feeling a little homesick. If you’re worried about succeeding academically, these five tips can help.
1. Get organised
Getting through the assessment period at the end of semester comes down to how well you’ve organised yourself from the first day of classes, including maintaining your attendance record. It can be a challenge to stay organised, so it’s best to start with the basics, such as ensuring that you use the same notebook throughout the semester and committing to reading course materials for each class. Be sure to note down due dates in your diary and allocate appropriate study time to each subject and assessment, particularly during peak periods when you have competing priorities.
2. Ask questions when you need help
The teaching style at Australian institutions may be different to what you are used to at home, and it may take you some time to adjust. If you are finding your studies difficult, it’s best to raise your concerns with your tutor or lecturer, or visit your institution’s academic support services. If you are finding a particular assessment difficult or did not understand something discussed in class, it’s important to ask questions as soon as possible rather than the day before an assessment is to be handed in. This applies to non-academic help too — if you are having trouble with your personal life, finances or housing, contact your institution’s student support services team.
3. Find a balance between study and your social life
In addition to class attendance and independent study, you should also make time for social activities — spending time with your new friends, arranging a phone call or Skype chat with your family back home or taking some time out to explore your new city. When the assessment period arrives, plan your study sessions around what works best for you — when in the day you study most effectively, where you like to study (whether it’s at home, on campus or by the beach) and how often you need to take a break. If you have a casual or part-time job, you should also ensure that your work hours are not affecting your studies negatively or using up all of your free time.
4. Investigate the extracurricular opportunities on campus
Whether you’re a new student or beginning your final semester, be sure to look into the extracurricular opportunities available on campus. This includes student hobby groups (expect anything from photography and chess to hiking), sports clubs and international student social clubs. Getting involved in campus life adds to your overall course experience and your time in Australia. If you want to get involved in something related to your course, get in touch with your course coordinator or your institution’s student advisers to see if there are any opportunities available. Event management students, for example, might be able to join the faculty ball committee, while politics students could get involved in the student election.
5. Stay fit and healthy
Eating well and staying fit are also very important. Studies have shown that a healthy diet and active lifestyle boost memory retention (which is very helpful during exam time) and also help with general wellbeing. It can be difficult to stay on top of your studies if you are compromising your health. If you are on a tight budget, don’t make the mistake of thinking that healthy meals are not as affordable as ‘fast food’. Our tip is to visit local fresh produce markets, shop in bulk and take advantage of special deals at the local supermarket. If you tend to buy lunch on campus, look for healthier options when you can.