Living in Australia as an international student

Insurance

As an international student, you will have attained Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) insurance. But, to increase your level of insurance coverage, you might also want to invest in other forms of insurance. For example, travel insurance will offer protection if your airline cancels your flight and you need accommodation or you the airline loses your luggage. It also covers you are somehow injured on your travel. Another useful insurance is contents insurance. It will cover the cost of your valuable items in your home (i.e. TV, game consoles, jewellery and furniture). Lastly, third party car insurance is compulsory in Australia if you own a car or motorbike. This provides with insurance against damage caused to other cars. An additional insurance is recommended for vehicle holders. It is the comprehensive car insurance and it covers damage to your car in the event of an accident.


Shopping

There will be lots of opportunity to shop in Australia when you arrive. Australia features many large shopping malls in the town centres and capital cities. You will find a selection of world-class shopping facilities. Shopping hours vary but generally are from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm seven days a week (with late-night shopping until 9.00 pm on Thursday or Friday). Also, some supermarkets open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Others, like Coles and Woolworths, are open until about 10pm every day.

Banks

In Australia, there are four major banks including: Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac and National Australia Bank (NAB).Tthey each have many branches across the country. In addition to these banks, there are plenty of smaller banks with good coverage (as well as credit unions) and large international banks such as ING, Citibank and others.

Banks in Australia are open during normal trading hours from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Thursday and 9.30 am to 5.00 pm on Friday. You can also find some banks open on Saturday mornings, but all banks close on Sundays and public holidays. If you need to access your bank account after hours, you can use the many Automatic teller machines (ATMs) that are readily available for withdrawals 24 hours a day. Lastly, most stores and supermarkets have Electronic Funds Transfer At Point of Sale (EFTPOS) terminals where you can pay for goods directly. For this reason, carrying large amounts of cash with you is unnecessary.

Postal services

If you need to send mail or pay a utility bill (like electricity, telephone or gas bill), you will need to go to an Australia Post office. They also sell stationery, post bags, phone cards and stamps and office equipment like fax machines. Another service they offer is delivering mail. This happens once a day from Monday to Friday. If you receive a card from Australia Post for a large parcel, just take it to your nearest post office for collection. You might also need ID with you to claim the parcel as yours.

Telephones

If you would like a cheaper way of making phone calls, and you have broadband access at home, you can look into setting-up a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) plan for your calls. They can offer considerable cost saving plans if you intend to use the phone often.

Television

Watching television can be a great way to relax. Australia has over 35 free-to-air digital networks.  If you want more programmes, you can try the dozens of pay-TV channels. For a monthly subscription fee, you can access these additional channels through Foxtel, Austar, Select TV and several others.

Newspapers

You can also source locally produced foreign-language newspapers at your larger newsagencies. Some international papers can also be found at these selected newsagencies.

Multicultural community groups

A good way to build your social network and find support when you first arrive in Australia as an International student is by joining a group associated with your home community. It might also be a wonderful way of introduce new friends to your culture and heritage. To contact a local group that you might be interested in joining, try visiting one of the following websites:

Culture and society

  • As a matter of courtesy, when speaking to people older than you, you can call them Mr, Mrs or Ms followed by their surname until you know them well (or they ask you to address them by their first name).
  • Informal greetings for friends and acquaintances are hello or hi.
  • Smoking is prohibited many public spaces. For example, it is banned in government buildings, on public transport including domestic and many international flights, theatres, shopping centres, many indoor and outdoor public meeting places, selected restaurants and cafes. Always ask for permission to smoke.
  • Generally speaking, Australians consider themselves to be egalitarian. That is, they believe all individuals have equal social, legal and political rights. These are protected by the Australian Constitution. Being treated equally and fairly is expected by all Australians.
  • Spitting in public is an offence. It is socially unacceptable.
  • Personal hygiene is a must. This not only guards against the spread of germs and disease, but is a social necessity. In this way, be sure to: use a tissue or handkerchief when you sneeze or need to blow your nose; wash your hands before eating, after going to the bathroom, after playing with animals, or when you have a cold; try to shower daily and use deodorant; practice oral hygiene daily by brushing your teeth and using breath freshener in-between flossing and brushing.
  • Never littering. Australia is an environmentally conscious country and littering is illegal. If you litter, you may be fined.


Culture shock

  • In the meantime here are some ways to help you settle in:
  • Remain positive! Recall the reasons why you chose to study in Australia.
  • Talk to others in the same situation or that have gone through a similar experiences as you. They may have valuable insights to help you.
  • Write down your feelings by keeping a journal. By doing so, you can vent your feelings. It also gives you a new gain perspective on things so you can work through your feelings and find solutions.
  • Stay occupied and busy. Keep your mind and body active. Fill-in your spare time by playing sport, joining a club or taking up a hobby. This can also help you meet new people and make new friends.
  • Try something new. Socialize with Australians and students from other countries. This can help to minimise your feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Try to be flexible and prepared to adapt to the changing environment. Expect change and work through challenges with confidence.
  • Be receptive to learning about Australia and its culture and be willing to share your own. As a multicultural society, Australians enjoy open dialogue with people from various heritages.
  • If you have cultural food restrictions, let people preparing foods for you know about them. You can also help educate people by discussing the reasons behind your needs so people can better understand and be open to accommodating them.