Whether you’ve always known you wanted to study overseas or you just made the decision to give it a try, you probably have an idea in your head about what it’s like. And while you may not be totally wrong in many of your assumptions, there are undoubtedly certain things you haven’t thought of or don’t know you need to be prepared for.
One big shock, especially when studying in Australia, can be how quickly your seemingly simple daily expenses add up. It’s a good idea to research ahead of time how much things cost and come up with a realistic budget for yourself that includes enough to keep you comfortable while also allowing you to do all of the things you’re interested in.
When you’re spending so much time in a new part of the world, it’s a great opportunity to travel and explore all that the area has to offer. But you can’t do this if you don’t have the money, and you really won’t have the money unless you plan for it ahead of time.
Going hand in hand with budgeting is the importance of having easy access to your funds. Since you’re going to be staying for a while, it’s a good idea to find a local bank and set up an account so that you can take out cash whenever you need it without repeatedly having to pay the service or conversion fees that may be required if you continue using your bank back home. In order to do this, you’ll have to make sure you have everything required to open an account with you, and that takes some forethought as well.
No matter how sure you are that you know how people dress in Australia and what you want to bring with you, it’s a good idea to check out the actual weather and research how it will change over the course of your stay. You may be surprised by the variety, and you also have to remember that seasons in the southern hemisphere occur at opposite times of year than they do in the north, so you need to pack accordingly or you may wind up blowing your entire budget on a new wardrobe.
Along these same lines, it’s important to think about which things are best to bring from home, and which will be easier to purchase once you arrive. Clothes and a variety of shoes are a good starting point when you’re packing. But toiletry-type items, makeup, and sunscreen are not really worth the trouble or the space they take up, as you can almost certainly find something comparable upon arrival.
No matter what you decide to bring, though, it’s important to plan it out ahead of time. If you just start throwing things in a suitcase, chances are you’ll wind up with an unwieldy amount of stuff, and most likely, not the things you actually need.
One of your main worries as you prepare for your trip may be how you’ll survive for so long without the comforts of home that you’re used to and without seeing your family and friends. But what you may not anticipate is that, once you’ve gotten into a routine here and started building new relationships, time will go by very quickly. Before you know it, it will be time to head home, and whether you believe it now or not, you’ll have a hard time saying good bye.
You may already realise you have several options for where to live and who to live with when you’re studying in Australia. But you may not have thought about how the choice you make in this area will shape your entire experience here. For instance, staying on campus will almost certainly limit you to hanging out with other international students, and while you may meet some great and interesting people, you won’t really get an authentic Australian experience by any means.
Living in an apartment can give you a much better chance of immersing yourself in Australian culture, especially if you’re inclined to put yourself out there socially and work to get to know your neighbours. But if you don’t think you’re that type of person, and you want to really experience Australia, staying with a local family may be your best option for getting as much out of your time overseas as possible.
Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with an actual emergency situation while you’re studying overseas, but it’s always best to be prepared. That means researching how to summon emergency help, as well as knowing where your embassy is and how to get there in a crisis situation.
Studying overseas, no matter where you decide to go, can be a wonderful and truly life-changing experience. But in order to get the most possible out of your time away, you really need to do some research and planning ahead of time. Knowing what to expect and what you want to accomplish can make all the difference once you’ve actually started out on your journey.
Photo Courtesy: Taylors College, Melbourne - https://www.flickr.com/photos/59300785@N04/