What you can do to ease the transition
Studying in Australia may be very different to what you are used to at home. International students often experience culture shock and loneliness when starting a new course in a different academic environment and living culture. There’s no need to worry though, as plenty of help and support is available.
Here are some tips to ease your transition:
- Make new friends by joining a student group, such as a sporting club or the international student association at your institution. The quicker you make friends the quicker you will settle into your new environment.
- Talk to people — you will find most Australians to be friendly, open and happy to talk to you.
- Participate in some Australian activities — whether it's going to a football game or visiting an Australian art gallery, any activity will give you an insight and understanding into your new home.
- Even if English is your second language, don't be afraid to use it! Making mistakes is part of learning.
Australian students are encouraged to be independent learners — this means that students are responsible for completing the readings, undertaking research and meeting deadlines themselves. Academic services will generally be available to help you adapt to:
- fewer contact hours and more self-directed study
- learning independently (or with minimal assistance)
- getting less individual attention from teachers
- the active and vocal style of tutorial discussions.
A casual approach
Australian students may seem to have a very casual and relaxed attitude toward their lecturers and tutors. Generally speaking, students are usually on a first-name basis with academics and titles are not usually used. Australians believe they live in a country where everyone is on the same level — even students and academics — and should be treated equally. This does not mean that students don’t have respect for academics, it just means that it is a more casual relationship than you may see in other countries. Students are encouraged to challenge their tutors and lecturers, and tutorial discussion and input often forms part of your final mark.
The Australian accent (‘strine')
If you are studying at an Australian institution, English is either your first language or you passed an English test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Despite your English abilities, you may still struggle with your spoken English in the first month or so of your time in Australia because of your unfamiliarity with the Australian accent. Australians use many slang and colloquial expressions in their speech. Don’t worry — you will get the hang of it eventually. A good way to get accustomed to the Australian style of speaking is to watch Australian films and TV series, listen to the radio and talk to the locals. See the Aussie Slang page for a list of Australian slang terms and their definitions.
Services offered by universities
If you are having trouble dealing with the transition, there are plenty of ways you can seek help. Most education providers have an international student office where counsellors can direct you towards learning skills help. Many institutions also run classes and seminars on conversational English, essay writing, note-taking and exam preparation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — it is normal to feel a little bewildered at first. See Support Services for more informaiton.