Wednesday, May 15, 2019

10 Things to Know About Studying In Australia

10 Things to Know About Studying In Australia.

So, you’ve done your research and decided upon Australia as your dream study destination? Yes, the work-study-balance is great here, yes, the beaches are amazing, and yes, absolutely, the people are mostly warm and friendly and LOVE a good barbeque. But there’s a lot more to get to know about Australia before you jump on-board that plane and let it carry you to your antipodean adventure. Here are 10 things about studying in Australia that don’t make it to most university or TAFE brochures but are just as important as to know before you begin your journey as a student in Oz…

  1. It can be daunting – Travelling to Australia on a holiday is completely different than actually living here. Whilst holidaying in Australia is full of fun, action and engaging in tourist activities, studying in Australia is a lot more challenging. For students coming from an academic background that’s based in Asia, educational assessments there are mostly focussed on a student’s ability to memorise material and then replicate it in an exam. Contrastingly, Australian schools and universities focus on a student’s ability to critically analyse and evaluate the information provided to them. In order to do this, you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time understanding the finer details provided to you in your study materials, and ask your instructor lots of questions until your understanding of your subject is thorough. Remember – the keyword here is LOTS! Your analytical and critical evaluation skills are important because they are what will get you job-ready and employment-worthy. If you feel like your skills in these areas need improvement, there are plenty of online resources and short courses. Sign up, so you can be prepared to hit the ground running when your classes start.
  2. Choose what you want to study and where you want to study carefully – Your own interests and passion should be the most important factor in deciding which course you study. Remember, if you have little to no interest in a particular study area, but choose it because someone else has recommended or encouraged you to take it up, well… it’ll only make the task of critically analysing the study materials doubly harder. A genuine interest, however, will take a lot of the tediousness out of your study because your brain is indisputably interested and actively engaged in the readings.
  3. Weather is a real consideration in Australia. Love the tropical vibe and sultry, balmy evenings?... DON’T pick Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania! Equally, if you love the crisp, cool temperate weather, then definitely don’t pick anything North of Sydney! Sure, we all love the novelty of experiencing weather we would normally not have in our home countries, but this will wear thin after a while and become a downright pain a few months into your study, particularly if your study keeps you here for more than a year.
  4. It can get expensive – especially when you consider the living expenses, cost of transportation, food and entertainment on top of what you are already paying for your education. Getting a part-time or casual job that suits your class and study schedule is highly recommended. This will not only financially supplement your student lifestyle here, but also go a long way in preparing you for the job market, especially if you are considering future employment in Australia, upon the completion of your course. Employers in Australia are very focused on experience and skills that complement your qualifications, so getting relevant industry experience is crucial. Also, please remember that there are certain restrictions on the number of hours students and non-residents can work every week. Remember to check the work conditions on your visa before you make work commitments to ensure that you are not in breach of any laws. Even though your hours per week might be restricted, the high minimum wage will make your working experience entirely worth it!
  5. Get health insurance and ambulance cover – We all like to count on smooth sailing as far as our health is concerned, however should any issues come up with your health whilst you’re in Australia, remember, you might end up paying a small fortune to see a local GP. It’s safest to get insurance for the duration of your stay in Australia. Additionally, when you get here, it makes good sense to pick up the phone and sign up for an ambulance cover with the ambulance organisation relevant to your state. Annual fees for Ambulance cover in most states is around $ 50 per person annually. In the situation where you call for an ambulance without having the necessary ambulance cover, you could get charged anywhere between a few hundreds of dollars to an eye-watering two – three thousand dollars, depending upon the state you live in.
  6. Get to know the locals – Living, studying and working in Australia can be an equally exhilarating and challenging experience, so make sure that you build a support group around you as you go. Moving to a new country might leave you feeling isolated, vulnerable and a ‘bit blue’, particularly as you leave your friends and family behind in your home dominion. You will need the support, knowledge and camaraderie of locals as you progress through your degree. The best way to do this is by joining hobby, sporting or volunteer groups. Remember, nothing brings people together more than a joined sense of purpose and a common goal. Not only will it provide you with a great reference point in terms of living, enjoying and understanding the local culture, it will also provide you with friendships for life, and weekend invitations so you can experience the Aussie BBQ experience first-hand. It is entirely worth putting yourself out there!
  7. EVERYWHERE else is FAR FAR away! – So, you have a week’s break coming up and you feel like it’s the perfect opportunity to get on a plane and duck back home to catch up with family… please remember that almost everywhere is roughly 7-8 hours from Australia, unless you live in Fiji, New Zealand or some of the Pacific Islands. Remember to leave plenty of time to recover from jet lag because that’s a very real thing in Australia. You don’t want to have to drag yourself to full time class in your first week back when all you want is to Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
  8. Get to know the Outdoors! Australia is one of the most stunning places you’ll ever see. From the Great Barrier Reef, to Uluru, to Sydney’s amazing Shoreline and Bondi beach culture, to Tasmanian Rainforests, to Kakadu National Park, to The Grampians National Park in Victoria…. There is so much to be amazed by. If you are able to, then try to get some travel time in so you can experience the incredible natural diversity that exists within Australian biosphere. It won’t be cheap, but this should serve as a great motivation for you to save up. Guaranteed, it’ll sweep you off your feet and you will be a newer, improved individual for it.
  9. Drive Safe! Remember to study up local road rules by looking them up on the internet before you do any local driving. Australians drive on the same side of the road as the Brits. However, too many lives are tragically lost every year as a result of tourists being unaware of the road rules here. If you’re from a country where people drive on the ‘other’ side of the road, then that may prove to be an additional hazard on the off chance that you forget which side of the road you are meant to be on. Our recommendation?... Be road smart and invest in a couple of lessons from a qualified Australian driving instructor, even if you are an accomplished driver. Also familiarise yourself with highway merging / roundabout rules as they vary from state to state. It’ll put you way ahead of the curve (pun unintended), give you incredible amounts of confidence and most importantly, keep you, and others on the road safe!
  10. Don’t forget to be Sun-safe – Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. There is no way around it – be sun smart. Zinc based sunscreens are incredibly effective at preventing sun damage. Alternatively, during the summer months, use light clothing to cover up, and if you’re going to the beach to spend the day, don’t forget to pack a beach tent.

-Written By Aanchal White; Steering True North’s Australia based contributor. 

Aanchal has worked as a reporter and editor and helped facilitate the Newspaper-in-Education programmes in India, developing educational and career workshops for high school students. She also networked extensively with  tertiary education providers and universities in the US, UK and Australia to provide students with a gamut of education and career solutions overseas. Education remains at the forefront of her interests, passion and expertise.