Many international students who come to Australia are living away from home and their family for the first time. With your family overseas, it is very important for you to look after your health. In fact, most students find that they study better when they are feeling happy, healthy and active.
A great way to look after yourself is by being physically active. Keeping active is not only great for your physical health and weight management but also increases your energy levels and helps you to focus on your studies. Physical activity also helps you manage your stress levels. In order to stay active, you could join a gym, join a sporting team or even just go for a swim or walk a few times each week. You’ll find that many institutions have gyms and sporting facilities on campus, which makes it easy to fit some physical activity into your day.
Many students struggle with their eating habits, especially when they have left home for the first time. Adjusting to the different types of foods available in Australia may also prove challenging. It is important to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure you have the energy to study and socialise, as well as reduce the risk of health issues and weight gain. We recommend learning a few basic recipes, planning out your meals for the week, choosing healthy options rather than fast food, and ensuring you eat plenty of fresh food — why not visit a market on the weekend to buy fresh meat, fruit and vegetables for the week?
Use health services
All international students in Australia have access to health care through the compulsory Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) scheme, so don’t hesitate to access health services in Australia if you are feeling unwell. Even if you have a minor illness, you should see a doctor and ensure you rest so that it doesn’t develop into a bigger health issue, which could result in time away from your studies. You may have to pay for doctor’s appointments and prescribed medication, but usually a proportion of these costs can be claimed through your OSHC provider. Teachers are generally very understanding if you are unable to attend class because you are feeling unwell and will help you catch up or provide you with an extension on assignments. Just make sure you get a medical certificate from your doctor as proof of your illness. Many institutions have health clinics on or near campus, making it very convenient to access health services.
Maintain an active social life
Your emotional wellbeing plays a large part in your overall health, so it is important that you are feeling happy and maintain an active social life in addition to attending classes and studying. Balancing your study commitments with your social life is an important part of being a student. Attend events on campus (such as movie screenings and markets), make friends with your classmates and join a student club or a sporting team. As long as you manage your time effectively and keep up with your studies, social activities can provide a nice break from study and can help to reduce stress.
Use student services
There are many student services on campus that can help you maintain your health and wellbeing. If you’re struggling with a personal problem or homesickness, most institutions have free student counselling services that can help you to resolve your problems. If your academic performance is worrying you, use the academic assistance services available on campus. You should also look out for on-campus facilities such as wellness centres, which may offer free or discounted activities (cooking classes and exercise sessions, for example). If you have a problem, most institutions have an international student adviser who can direct you to the right place. Your health and wellbeing are extremely important — never be afraid to ask for help!