As an international student, you have a lot of things to prepare for before starting classes. Not only are you starting at a new university, you are moving hundreds or even thousands of miles to your new school overseas. You’ll be meeting new people, staying in a new apartment or home, and learning new customs and about a new culture. That’s a lot to try and juggle at once.
To help you get ready, we’ve gathered several tips to help with the first few weeks of university as an international student. Whether preparing for orientation or getting acclimated to the new environment, keep these tips in mind to feel more comfortable.
Many international students in Australia feel alone at first. After all, you probably came to Australia alone and have left your friends and family behind in your home country. But remember that Australia is one of the largest destinations in the world for international students. Nearly 20% of students in Australian universities are from overseas and many of them are in the same situation as you.
Be active in international student groups, go out and spend time with people from local host families, and talk to colleagues, even if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. You’ll be surprised to find they are often in the same situation as you.
One of the most exciting parts about being at university is the events you can attend. Sporting events, campus events, festivals, and other activities held by the university or organizations that operate with the university are plentiful. Almost any weekend you should be able to find something to keep you occupied on campuses in Sydney or Melbourne, and there are even more events to attend off campus.
Even if you don’t yet have friends, going to these types of events will give you something to discuss with people you meet, things to invite people to when you are trying to think of something to do, and a place to go when you aren’t studying.
It’s normal to feel awkward in new social situations. Remember that most other people also feel awkward and will respond in turn in these situations. The key is to go outside of your comfort zone and be willing to engage even if you are afraid of it getting too awkward.
Talk as much as you can, be fun and don’t forget to smile. The boundaries of language and culture have a habit of melting away in a university setting because at the heart of it, you are experiencing the same thing as everyone else on that campus.
University life is an amazing experience, and even more so when you get to see it through the eyes of a new culture in a new location like Australia. Make the most of the opportunity and you’ll not only make new friends, you’ll create memories that last a lifetime.