International students are often worried about adjusting to a new education system, and many are afraid that they will not achieve their academic goals while settling into life in a different country. If you share these concerns, read through our five tips before you begin classes.
1. Seek out orientation sessions
Institutions typically run orientation activities in the weeks leading up to the start of the semester. You will find information and key dates on your institution’s website or Facebook page, or by contacting the student services team. These events are usually part of ‘O-Week’ festivities. This is a week (or two) designed to welcome students to the new year with activities such as concerts, free barbeques, ‘pub crawls’, campus tours and introductory lectures. This is also your chance to sign up for student clubs and societies and start meeting some of your new classmates.
2. Go to your classes
Attending lectures and tutorials ensures that you get the most of out your course. It also means that you are prepared for assessments, which are usually an extension of what you have been taught in class. Even if you can watch lectures online or ask a friend to take notes, sitting in the lecture or tutorial is the best way to absorb and engage with your course content. If you are sick, it is acceptable to miss a class. You may need to meet minimum attendance requirements as an international student — check with your institution for details.
3. Keep up with your assessments
Most students complete four subjects each semester, so it is easy to fall behind if you are not keeping up with your assessments. A good tip is to use a diary or calendar to write down due dates and assessment guidelines, as well as setting aside some time to study and complete assignments each week. Working steadily during the semester means that you will not have to rush to finish an assignment or study for an exam at the last minute. If you’re not feeling very motivated, you might think about organising a study session with a group of classmates.
4. Ask questions
The study experience in Australia may be a little different to what you are used to back home, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. This includes asking for help if you don’t understand lecture content or an assignment outline, as well as little things such as not knowing where to go for your next class. It is also important to talk to your course coordinator if you have any concerns about your course or the subjects you are studying.
5. Take advantage of support services
You will have access to a number of student support services at your institution, so don’t forget to use them. Many will be specifically designed for international students, such as English language assistance and ‘buddy’ or peer-mentoring programs. Your institution may also organise special workshops that teach you the academic skills you will need for your course. For example, you might be able to attend a session on using the resources at the campus library or academic referencing in your assignments. There are also support services to help you with personal issues, such as counselling, accommodation advice and financial services.