After you have carefully scrutinized Australia’s educational opportunities, decided on your preferred study destination in Australia and successfully obtained a student visa for Australia, for many of you, your visit to Australia will mark your first visit to the land downunder. A variety of experiences await you and it’s quite natural to face them with a blend of both excitement and anxiety about the unknown. The challenge is to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you. The benefits of being part of a multicultural student population and society in Australia will give you the chance to develop your knowledge and understanding of new cultures. Your time in Australia will be both challenging and rewarding.
For any student the process of successfully adapting to the rigors of a new study system in a different culture can be little difficult and can take some time. While academic success will be your main focus, you should make the most of the other opportunities that will present themselves to you for your greater personal growth and success.
Before you are ready to depart for Australia, make yourself comfortable by planning your initial days in Australia. Institutions in Australia help international students make this important transition by giving them an airport pickup, arranging for temporary accommodation and by giving them an orientation session. But before you leave, get to know Australia through the eyes of a student by seeking answers to the queries and situations you might face. Given below is a general checklist of items you should make yourself aware of.
As an international student, you can apply to the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration And Citizenship (DIAC) for a permit to work 20 hours per week during your studies and work full time during vacations. You will be charged AUD 50 to apply for the work permit. You can only apply for a work permit after your arrival in Australia and you cannot work without obtaining one. Please also remember that international students who work have to pay Australian taxation. This has to be kept in mind while filling in an employment declaration form before starting a job. You will need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) and submit the TFN Application Form to the Australian Taxation Office. You will also need the TFN while opening a bank account.
Australian currency is the only acceptable mode of cash payment in Australia. Foreign Exchange facilities are widely available at all international airports and through banks operating in Australia. It is also a good idea to set up an Australian Bank account so that you can organise any transfers of money into your account by a direct bank transfer. To open a bank account you will need to fill out a bank application form and submit your passport, student ID and your Tax File Number.
The normal banking hours in Australia are from 9:30am – 4pm, Monday to Thursday and 9:30am – 5pm on Fridays. All universities would have a branch office of one of the major Australian banks located on or near their campuses. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widely used in Australia for after hours banking. Both Credit and Debit (EFTPOS) cards are widely accepted in most shops.
Your Australian Student Visa has a number of important rules that you need to adhere to while you study in Australia. Remember, it has been issued to you so that you can advance your educational qualifications. The key rules for international students to remember are:
A different country means experiencing a culture that is different to the one that you are used to. It is normal to experience a form of “culture shock” initially but this will pass quickly. When in new culture it is a good idea to observe the habits and customs of other people for they may express their feelings differently from people of your own culture but it is also important to have confidence in your own traditional values. Learn about the Australian social and educational culture.
There is a lot more you will learn about Australian people but be positive, be flexible and try to adapt. Listen, observe and ask whenever you are in doubt.
The method of study in Australia may be very different to what you have experienced so far. Therefore it is important to give yourself a head start. Keep up to date with Australian news and current affairs (try Australian news websites such as www.abc.net.au) and become familiar with Australia’s education system and learning culture. When you arrive, practice listening to the Australian accent – it is different but you will soon understand the local terms and way of speaking.
In Australia, students are expected to conduct independent research, collect and analyse data by themselves or in-groups, to raise questions, to participate in discussions and debates with other students and teachers. Rote learning does not exist and students take an active part in the learning process. Students spend a great deal of time in libraries and laboratories conducting their own research. To be a successful student you will need to adapt to these new methods of learning and assessment. Students are assessed continuously through essays, presentations, tests, assignments etc. One thing that may surprise you is the amount of access that you will be able to obtain with your tutors and lecturers. If you are having an academic problem, discuss it with them – don’t let it develop from a minor issue into a major problem for you.
[Source: Australian High Commission, New Delhi]