Student life in Australia – Since Australia is an ever-emerging destination for study abroad aspirants around the world, it is imperative to discuss about the life of students there on a day-to-day basis. Though a larger part of the student’s attention might be dedicated to their studies and life within the university grounds, they will also experience a diversified and energetic atmosphere outside which makes Australia an attractive destination for international students. While in Australia, students may experience a varied cultural scenario that would eventually become an integral part of their campus life.
Hence, while preparing for admission in an Australian university, one must also think of ways to experience the best possible student life. In all probability, the most given advice to an Indian student going overseas is to be open to making friends, especially since we are prone to feeling homesick due to our close family culture.
So let’s talk about some of the most important aspects of student life in Australia including housing, classroom and campus life, cost of living, recreational activities, health care, safety and much more.
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Student Life in Australia – Housing
One of the first aspects to consider about your student life in Australia is the housing. International students will have a lot of options to stay in Australia. Depending on what you need and your budget you might choose to live in a hostel, rent a flat, live on campus or live with a local family (homestay). A few considerations you should keep in mind before choosing any one of these options are:
- How much can you spend? Remember the extra costs involved like the rental bond, bills for electricity, gas or water.
- How far away from the campus would you be comfortable staying? Also, how easy is it to commute between home and campus?
- What facilities would you like to have close by, like hospitals, restaurants, shopping centres, departmental stores.
If you are staying in the campus housing, you will have easy access to many academic resources and student clubs. These are not only a good source of education but also inspire mingling with other students and develop good relationships. Students wanting to stay on-campus should consider applying for it way in advance. Do remember that the rent you pay for on-campus housing would be in the form of a package which might include other services like meals, computer access, cleaning services and more.
If you are staying off the university campus, which majority of the international students do, it is advisable to stay nearby so that you can comfortably take part in the various activities being organized in the university campus. These activities might include guest speakers, group mixing or volunteer efforts. Homestay programs are especially popular amongst foreign students who are enrolled in short-term courses. A homestay gives them an experience of local everyday life while being with an Australian family.
Living in a private accommodation, on the other hand, gives you the freedom to decide whom you want to live with and where. Students may either shift to pre-furnished houses on a room-by-room basis, or apply to lease the place as a whole with friends they already know.
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TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION AND THEIR RENTS, AS PER IDP AUSTRALIA
|TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION||APPROX. RENT/WEEK FOR SINGLE/SHARED ROOMS (AUD$)|
Student Life in Australia – Campus Life
The international students in Australia are welcomed by a rich, rewarding and engaging campus life. In the beginning of your university life, a comprehensive orientation process is offered. The orientation would give you an introduction to the academic as well as the campus life. As an international student, you should make a point to attend all these orientation programs as they give you much idea about Australia and the student life you are about to lead.
Within the campus, you get an opportunity to be a part of various groups, clubs, and student associations. They cater to a variety of activities which might depend on the region or the university. You will definitely find a group or club of your choice. Some of these student groups which you might discover at your university are:
- Outdoor activity group
- Study groups for various subjects
- Books/movie clubs
- Political party activists
- Religious groups
- International student groups
Even when you are outside the campus, Australia has many things to offer which can boost your student life. Australia is multicultural and vibrant country. As the universities in Australia are spread throughout the cities, you will have plentiful options for shopping, dining and exploring the rich heritage of the country.
Talking about food, one can eat at the university cafeteria and if preferred, cook it at home. You can buy groceries from a nearby supermarket. The students also have the option of eating at one of the many fast food restaurants which are closer to the university campuses.
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Student Life in Australia – Classroom Culture
The international students may find the classrooms in Australian universities a little overwhelming since most of the students are getting introduced to a new classroom culture abroad for the first time. Asking questions from the instructors is encouraged here. For the non-native English language speakers, understanding the classroom discussions may seem compelling at first, but gradually they become a part of the classroom atmosphere. If the students practice listening to the Australian English accent beforehand through various sources like YouTube, television or podcasts, they can overcome this challenge comfortably.
Student Life in Australia – Cost of Living
Below is a list of all the living essentials along with the costs involved monthly. For a complete understanding on the click here to read cost of living in Australia
WEEKLY LIVING EXPENSES IN AUSTRALIA FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
|LIVING ESSENTIALS||APPROX. AVERAGE EXPENSE/WEEK (IN AUD$)|
|Food/Grocery||140 to 280|
|Course related expenses (stationary/notebook etc)||15|
|Gas/Electricity||10 to 20|
|Car (after purchase)||150 to 260|
|Public Transport||30 to 60|
|Recreation||80 to 150|
|Mobile Phone/Internet||30 to 100 (depending on the plan)|
Note: The above given figures are only basic and may vary from university to university and of course, the style of living you would like to or can afford to maintain. We would also like to mention the extra University costs which amount to approximately AUD$1,000 per year. These costs include the sundry expenses like student services, security funds, registration or application fees, etc.
Student Life in Australia – Part-time jobs
When you are an international student, it does help to add extra funds in your bank account. A good idea to supplement your existing funds is working part-time while studying. This would provide you with some extra money for unexpected and sometimes indulging expenses. The student visa for the international students allows them to work 20 hours per week. This gives you a good balance between studies, work, and your free time. The most suitable and easily available part time jobs for students in Australia are:
- In restaurants/hotels
- As clerks in retail businesses
- Customer service or data entry.
You may also look for an entry level job in the specific industry your field of study is targeting. You can apply for jobs through the advertised open positions in newspapers or internet. There is an Australian government job board www.deewr.gov.au where you can look for job openings. This is the Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations website. There could also be a job placement office in the university where you are studying. The on-campus job placement office might be the best option to guide you to the most fitting jobs for overseas students.
In all, the international students should enhance their study abroad education and living experience by mixing with people and taking in the culture. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a 3% increase to base rates of pay that took effect from July 1, 2019, with the new national minimum wage set at $19.49 per hour. The students can earn more than this minimum wage, based on various conditions like the city where they are working, academic qualifications, English-speaking ability, etc.
Student Life in Australia – Public and Private Transport
Every student, whether staying in or off the campus, would need to move around the city. The transportation system in Australia is very well developed and you will have many options to commute. From buses, bicycles, trains/subways to taxis and share rides, there are many vehicles of commute to choose from. A bicycle is the best way to move in and around campus. Also, the local areas can be covered easily with a bicycle. It is also economical. Buses are good too in the cities, though they do not run as much often in the suburbs. As an option, trains can be used to connect to a little far away areas. Taxis can be relatively expensive for the students. Though if you are riding a taxi, do check the driver’s id while boarding and make sure that the meter is running. Various rideshares like Uber, Ola, DiDi, Taxify, GoCatch, and HOP can be used in Australia.
If you’d like to drive your own car in Australia, you need to take care of the following requirements –
- Licensing – International students need to have a valid drivers licence to drive in Australia and carry it with themselves at all times while driving. Since the overseas students are regarded as temporary residents, they may use their licence from their home country as long as it is current and valid. However, if the license is not written in English, they must also carry a certified translation in English or apply for an International Driving Permit from their home country. In case of the student not possessing an overseas licence, it can be applied through their state or territory motor registry and undergo a series of tests.
- Registration – Each car must be registered with the appropriate state or territory motor registry. This is included in the buying price of new cars and is valid for a year from purchase. If you plan to purchase a second-hand car, make sure you obtain a car registration transfer form from the seller. This form will have to be lodged with the motor registry in your state or territory to show that you are the new owner of the vehicle. Further, registration must be renewed annually by paying a registration fee that varies according to the type of vehicle you drive and where you live. Registration requirements vary in each state and territory. For more information, visit the website of your state or territory’s motor registry.
- Car Insurance – It is compulsory to obtain a third party insurance that insures the student and others against personal injury in the course of driving. In many states and territories of Australia, compulsory third party insurance is included in your registration fees.
- Learn the road rules – The rules differ in each state and territory of Australia, so one must learn the rules that apply to their location.
- Consider the costs of buying a car – For some students, running a car in Australia could prove to be a costly affair. A car might not even be a necessary option if the student lives in a metropolitan area. Do keep in mind that to drive your own car, you have to pay for registration and insurance, petrol, servicing, repairs and use of tollways, besides paying for the car itself. as per the Australian Government, it can cost between AUD$150 and $250 per week to run and maintain a car. In addition, international students are not permitted to avail financial loans which means that they must have adequate funds to purchase a car in full amount. One might consider cheaper options like a motorized scooter if needed. There is, however, a provision to rent a car in times of home shifting, road trips, etc.
Student Life in Australia – Finance
As you will be settling in Australia for a while as a student, it is important to open a bank account. An international student would need a photo identification, proof of enrolment, proof of address in Australia in order to open an account with an Australian bank. A bank might need few additional documents as well.
It is advisable not to carry cash in large amounts. Credit cards, travelers’ cheques or debit cards must be used most frequently. Most of the students prefer to use an ATM card. At times, an ATM card of your country might also work in Australia. You would need to check whether the Australian bank would honour it. The daily withdrawal limit of most of the ATMs in Australia is AUD$300.
Student Life in Australia – Recreational Activities
As most of the universities in Australia are located in urban and suburban areas, you will find a lot of opportunities for recreational activities and weekend fun. Australia is famous for easy access to outdoor activities, like hiking, rock climbing, scuba diving, biking, etc. It is a country with varied landscapes including wilderness, beaches, rain forests, and vast lands. Apart from these, there are many national and local parks to be visited. You will always find something to do on each day of the week. Even if you are busy with studies during the week, you may find time to visit the sandy beaches depending on your class timings. There are a lot of nightclubs which the students might find interesting. Do note that drinking and driving is not allowed, and it is advisable to take a cab home if you are drunk, otherwise you will incur a heavy fine.
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Student Life in Australia – Health
As you will be studying abroad and not closer to home, it is important that health be on top of your priority list as an international student. Ensure that you are vaccinated against measles, rubella, mumps, etc. If at all you fall sick in Australia, you would be covered under the medical insurance policy OSHC (Overseas Student Health Coverage). This is one of the major requirements of the immigration department. Your host university can recommend the insurance providers. The OSHC policy will help you to pay for hospital stays, doctor visits, and some of your prescriptions. While the cost of OSHC covers differs on the basis of your insurance provider, duration of course/stay in Australia and the kind of insurance package you opt for, the lowest costing cover is for AUD 430 yearly for singles, 2680 yearly for couples and 4000 yearly for a family.
In Australia, you have the option to visit a private doctor or a medical centre doctor. Do make a note that private doctors see the patients only by appointments whereas the medical centre doctors may take in walk-ins as well. All the doctors are listed in Australia’s yellow pages. In case of a medical emergency, you can dial Australia’s emergency number, which is 000.
Student Life in Australia – Safety
The most important part of staying in another country is safety. Like in any other country, be aware of when you are using footpaths and roadways. Do not keep yourself distracted by your phone. The nationwide emergency calling number in Australia is 000. For any other situations, you may contact the campus security.
As an international student, when you arrive in Australia and and the initial days of excitement steady wear off, you might feel a little homesick. Please consider this as normal as it takes a certain amount of time to adjust in a new country and a different culture and society. Please note that it makes perfect sense to feel disoriented and overwhelmed. We assure you that these feelings are short-lived and a part of international student experience. You may remind yourself of your goals and move forward. An important thing to remember is to remain actively engaged with people. It may take a little time but making new friends will help you tremendously in settling down in Australia.