G’day mate! So you wanna study in the land down under? Bloody beaut’ decision. Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding things you can do as part of your university life. Not only do you get to expand your knowledge by accessing some of the world’s leading institutions, but you’ll grow as a person, too – experiencing new cultures (including some weird and wonderful new English expressions), broadening your mind and otherwise just having a ton of fun!
Plus, Australia really has it all. Not only is the climate great and the laidback quality of life pretty awesome, Australia is actually also home to some of the world’s top universities . Whether you’re keen to take selfies with kangaroos, give surfing a crack, or spend your well-deserved study breaks down at the beach, you’re bound to come home with sand in your suitcase, some new additions to your vocabulary, and a bucketload of stories.
So what do you need to do to study abroad in Australia? We’ve put together a few bits and pieces to help you get started.
Finding study abroad programs in Australia
The first step is deciding where to study abroad in Australia, and finding the right program for you. Here are some useful pointers:
Check in with your current school or university
Drop into your campus’ study abroad office or do a bit of digging on their website. Let them know you’re looking to study abroad in Australia. There’ll often be partnerships or specific programs your school or uni can recommend, and you can ask for assistance with the application process. It can be a great place to start if you’re looking for a bit of guidance or support!
Look into scholarships
Studying abroad can be really expensive. Like, really expensive. And it’s a great idea to research what scholarships for international students in Australia are out there. Having a browse can give you an overview of what sponsorships you might be eligible for, which Australian universities offer scholarships for the courses you want to study, and whether your home country has specific scholarship partnerships with any institutions.
Compare study abroad programs online
It can be overwhelming sifting through hundreds of web pages trying to suss how different programs measure up against each other. We recommend using online resources like Go Abroad and Go Overseas that have comprehensive listings of programs and even offer help to match you to the perfect one!
Get familiar with Australian study abroad destinations
Australia is a big place, and there’s quite a different vibe in each of its major cities. Doing a little more research as to what student life is like around Australia could be a good way to narrow down your search for the perfect program. There’s the bustle and beaches surrounding Sydney universities, Melbourne’s culture and class, and the carefree atmosphere and affordability that Adelaide university students love, to name but a few.
Important things to do before you study abroad in Australia
So you’ve decided where in Australia you want to go, and you’ve even looked into scholarship options and found the best study abroad program for you. Woohoo! You’re that much closer!
Before you take off on your adventure though, here are some super important things to make sure you’ve got covered.
Sort out your visa and passport as early as possible
You’ll need to apply for a student visa if you aren’t an Australian citizen, and this can take time to organise. Make sure you drop by your local Australian consulate or embassy to have a chat well in advance. This way, you’re not stressing if there are any delays in the process, and you have time to gather all the necessary documentation. Same goes with a valid passport – apply for one if you don’t already have one, or make sure your current passport is valid (i.e. it should expire more than 6 months after your expected return date).
Enrolment & course credits
To get a student visa, you’ll need proof of enrolment from your uni or institute. It’s also a good idea to see if you’re eligible for any of your previous education to contribute to your Australian course. And, if you’re planning on continuing your studies back in your home country after your stint in Australia, check that your study abroad course can be counted as part of your long-term education qualification goals.
Get your finances in order
Australia is expensive, and there are many associated costs with studying abroad. Things like airfares, living expenses and rent do add up. The rate that they do so depends of course on where in Australia you’re planning on studying.
As a guideline, the Aussie government requires proof of financial resources when you apply for your visa, which means enough to cover one return airfare, your full course fees, and a general minimum of $18,610 extra to cover living costs like rent and food. You’ll need proof of your financial situation, for instance any bank statements, proof of scholarships or financial aid, loan details or information about anyone else paying for your studies, e.g. your parent/s. The more proof you provide, the better.
Plus, other than the visa situation, you’ll probably want to have some extra savings to enjoy your trip with. It’d be a crime to come all this way and not do a bit of travel in Australia to see the sights!
Pro tip: have some Australian dollars on you for when you arrive to avoid those rude ATM fees, and look into opening an Australian bank account if you’re here for a while.
Be a smart packer
If you don’t know the struggle of trying to cram a million and one items into a too-small suitcase, then sweating nervously at the check-in counter as it’s placed on the scale, trust me, you don’t want to. It can seem impossible to fit everything you want to bring, but packing light is the way to go. Make sure you adhere to your airline’s luggage restrictions (including any smaller domestic flights!) and don’t get slapped with ridiculous fees at the airport.
Check the weather in your chosen city before you go and pack accordingly. Remember, seasons are reversed in Australia if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re coming from a country with really cold weather, you’ll be glad to know the winters are pretty forgiving in Australia and you won’t need to pack too much bulky winter clothing (although students living in Melbourne might disagree when the southerlies start to blow!).
If you’re still struggling for space, things like sheets, towels and basic toiletries and household items (soap, shampoo, etc.) are pretty cheap to buy, so think about buying them when you arrive. Or, better yet, find a student accommodation option that comes fully furnished. We recommend trying to limit your luggage so you have space to bring back any souvenirs when you fly home!
Look into travel insurance
This is the kind of boring thing you might not think you need, but it’s really necessary if you’re planning on spending some time abroad. We of course hope you’ll stay safe, healthy and happy for your entire trip, however if you happen to get sick, or worse, need emergency care, you’ll want to be protected and looked after without the added stress of a huge financial burden.
5 helpful tips for international students studying abroad in Australia
Kick the jet lag quickly
If you haven’t flown across the globe before, prepare to feel a little weird because of the time difference. Jet lag is very real. Do your best to flow into the new time zone as quickly as you can – try to discipline yourself to stay awake during the day if you arrive in the morning (perhaps after a short nap), and put yourself to bed if you land at night. Either way, once your body adapts you’ll be just fine and the only challenge you’ll face is trying to schedule phone or Skype calls with your family back home!
Learn some local slang
If you’re expecting everyone in Australia to talk like Crocodile Dundee, you’ll probably be disappointed. Though “G’day” can definitely be used as a greeting, common Aussie slang is actually not too complicated and mainly revolves around word abbreviations. You’ll pick it up pretty quickly! We’re listed some common words and sayings here for you:
- Arvo: afternoon
- Brekkie: breakfast
- Heaps: a lot / very
- She’ll be right: it’ll be fine.
- Barbie: BBQ
- Footy: football
- Macca’s: McDonald’s
- Snag: sausage
- Mozzie: mosquito
- Veggies: vegetables
- Sunnies: sunglasses
As a general rule of thumb: if it can be shortened, Aussies will do it.
Wear sunscreen and a hat
We cannot stress this enough! The Australian sun is really, really, really intense. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get sunburned even on a cloudy day. Whilst it shouldn’t necessarily deter you from getting outdoors and enjoying the sun, keep in mind the UV rays are vicious and that you’ll need to be sensible to protect your skin whilst studying abroad. Those post-sunburn showers can be uncomfortable to say the least.
Learn the uni grading system
Perhaps a bit weird at first glance, Australian universities mostly use the same system for grading. From highest to lowest, HD (High Distinction), D (Distinction), C (Credit), P (Pass), and F (Fail), and you should check to see not only which marks correspond with which grade but also the criteria that you need to address in order to score in each band.
Australians drive on the LEFT side of the road
This can be a bit disorientating if it isn’t your natural side of the road. This means that when you are crossing the road, you need to look RIGHT first!
Also, if you’re ever driving through the Australian countryside, watch out for kangaroos crossing the road. Especially during early mornings, around sunset and at night. No, we’re not joking. They’re not the smartest buggers and can cause serious accidents by jumping out in front of your car.
Well, it seems like you’re all set to study abroad in Australia! Although the application process, mountains of paperwork, visa and financial situation can seem really hectic, it’s worth it a million times over for all the adventures you’re about to embark on.
You’ll be learning, exploring, growing and having fun, all in an amazing new country on the other side of the world – not to mention how much your English will improve, if it’s not your first language!
So what are you waiting for?