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6 things you should do when starting university in Australia

Moving to a new country for university can be a confusing and emotional experience. Our six student survival tips will help you transition successfully to Australian university life.

Moving to a new country for university can be a confusing and emotional experience. Our six student survival tips will help you transition successfully to Australian university life.




   1. Attend O-Week

Before classes start for the year, most universities in Australia run an orientation week, or O-Week, to help introduce students to life at university. O-Week is an opportunity for students to familiarise themselves with the campus and classes and is very important for international students.

"You can learn lots of things from a classroom or you can learn online, but you can't actually learn the student experience and be part of that experience unless you join in." says Martin Doulton the director of TeamMONASH - a department of Melbourne's Monash University tasked with supporting students and getting them involved in campus life.



    2. Get your student identification card

One of the first things you need to do when you arrive at university is to get a student identification or ID. Student ID's allow university students access to important facilities such as the library, internet service and computer labs, and it also must be shown when attending exams.

"[Student ID's are] a really important passport to a lot of the activities, because it shows that you're a current student," Martin says.

In Australia, students with an ID card are also eligible for a range of student rates on goods and services. Students can access cheaper rates on public transport, discounted entrance fees to many venues, such as the museum or movies, and you can also get deals when buying computers and books.

So, make sure you put on a big smile when you get your photo taken.


    3.Make some time for a campus tour

Most universities in Australia consist of a large campus with many different buildings and services. You certainly don't want to get lost in your first week of classes!

Campus maps are always available from most student centres but one of the most practical ways to find out about your new university is to join a campus tour.

"Campus tour[s] will help you a lot for recognising where are you going to have your class," says Lingya Zhang, who is studying Nursing at Monash University.

O-Week is a great opportunity to spend time getting to know your new campus - so whether you take a tour, or find a map - make sure you make time to find out everything you can about your new university. Find out where to go for your classes, where the library is, where the student centre is, and remember to find out where you can eat!



    4. Make new friends

Making new friends can be a daunting process, specially in a completely different culture or city. Many students are often shy and find friends who come from the same background as them, but the key to enjoying the university experience is to step outside your comfort zone.

"It will help to improve [your English]," says Lingya Zhang. "Most of them are really interested in your culture, you can talk about your culture with them."

And one of the best ways to make new friends at university is through joining a club or student association. Most universities have student clubs based on shared interests, hobbies, or sport. It's not only important to find new friends, but having a diverse range of interests will help you enjoy a good uni-life balance.


"University life is so much more than, like, coming and attending lectures...," says Abigail Stapleton, President of the Monash Student Association. "You're investing in your future and the university experience is best done when you get involved in extra-curricula activities."

"I was pretty lazy at the start, I didn't want to come to uni, I didn't really want to make friends," says Lingya Zhang. "If I could do that again I would choose to come to uni more often, I would definitely come to O-week and join more clubs."


    5. Try different subjects and classes

You may find there are many interesting subjects on offer in your chosen degree. But you can't study everything at once - so sometimes you will have to choose.

At O-Week you can often sample tutorials and lecture theatres to see what university life is like or preview a subject that you're planning to study.

"I think that's a really important transition into university life," says Martin Doulton. "That will help people become more comfortable when the real action and the real work starts."

In some universities, there is often a period of time at the start of semester when you can attend different subjects before you need to commit to your course. Make sure you consult with the student centre to find out when the due date is to enrol or change subjects.



    6. Improve your English language skills

If English is not your native language, make the most of your time in Australia by practising your English language skills. Improving your English will also help you to improve your university grades.

Many universities offer language classes for international students but there are also a number of other ways you can practise your language skills.


"Talk to people a lot and don't be shy," says Lingya Zhang. "I think another thing you can do is to write [an] English diary everyday and ask your friends to check your grammar or your sentence[s]."

"Don't worry about [if you get it] wrong because that's the second language for you... they won't laugh at you if you say stuff wrong, because you are still better than them, you can speak the second language."

Radio Australia