Travelling overseas presents many challenges, so it’s no surprise that studying abroad might involve a few bumps along the way. Read on as we present our guide to overcoming some of the challenges you might face during your Australian study experience.
Adjusting to a new culture and environment
Even though Australians are friendly and welcoming, living in a new country and adjusting to an unfamiliar culture can be difficult. Feeling homesick is also completely normal. Getting settled in Australia is all about new experiences — making new friends, getting involved in new activities on campus, trying new foods and visiting new places. Once you feel like less of a tourist and more of a local, cultural differences will feel less significant.
Dealing with language difficulties
If you’ve come to Australia from a non-English-speaking country, it’s possible that you’ll face some language difficulties. This may be on campus, where you’re unfamiliar with academic terminology or technical language in your field, or perhaps in the community or when chatting with classmates (particularly if they’re prone to using Aussie slang!). Don’t be afraid to speak up if you need help — whether it’s asking a teacher or classmate to repeat themselves, seeking clarification about assessment criteria or finding a language assistance program.
Moving away from home
Leaving the family home is your chance to gain independence and experience new things, but it definitely has its challenges. Paying rent and bills, stocking up on groceries and even household cleaning can take some getting used to. Our tip is to embrace the learning curve, as these are skills you will continue to use throughout life.
If you’re stressing about finding accommodation, remember that your Australian education provider is here to help. They will be able to provide assistance to help you choose an accommodation option, secure a temporary option when you first arrive (such as a hostel or homestay with an Australian family) and find a permanent accommodation arrangement — a student apartment or private rental, for example.
Keeping a budget
Budgeting can be difficult but it’s not impossible, even when you’re studying in a new environment. Keeping a budget will help you make sure that you have enough money to pay for the essentials — like accommodation, bills, groceries and transport — as well as extras such as social outings and travel. Once you have added up your expenses, think about ways of cutting costs. You might look out for supermarket specials or student discounts, commit to bringing your lunch from home or brainstorm ways to make extra money, such as getting a part-time job or organising a market stall with friends.
Managing educational expectations
The style of learning in Australia may vary from that in your home country, with Australian institutions placing value on independent learning, critical thinking and problem-solving. Debate is encouraged and it is not uncommon to question a teacher or voice disagreement. Classes are also very informal and students call their teachers by their first names — which can take some getting used to. New subjects and assessment styles may provide another hurdle, particularly if you’ve enrolled in electives outside of your course structure or need assistance with academic writing.
If you need help, remember that you can seek help from your institution. You will find many academic support services on campus — some specifically for international students — ranging from library workshops to academic writing assistance and tutors.