After a long day of study, it’s such an awesome feeling coming back to a room or student dorm that feels just like home. If you’re settling into a new living space and need a few familiar touches, here are our top ten ways to make your student accommodation feel like home.
1. Choose an accommodation style that bests suits you
Do you want a spacious studio all to yourself? Or are you the extroverted kind who would prefer to live with housemates or twin-share with a roomie?
Before your arrival, it’s really important to seek out student accommodation that suits your needs, lifestyle and personality. Make a list of the non-negotiable things you’re looking for (such as good location and public transport options, privacy and peace and quiet, or a fun and social atmosphere), and then work out where you’d best fit.
Remember — home is where the heart is. You’ll likely want to find a place to return to after a long day where you feel safe, secure, welcomed and completely at home.
2. Decorate your room with things that make you happy
Displaying objects you’ve brought from your home country can add a degree of familiarity and comfort to your new room. Still, remember to leave some space for new things! Go shopping and find furniture, objects and decorations that best represent you and your new Aussie adventure.
3. Buy a bunch of photo frames
Bring plenty of photos of family, friends and places from your home country. These will come in handy when sharing stories with others about your country, but they’re also useful to display around your room to remind you of everyone at home. For an extra challenge, buy some blank photo frames and aim to fill them up with new memories of Australia.
4. Keep a journal or scrapbook in your drawer
When you visit major tourist attractions, you’ll probably take a lot of photos and collect a bunch of pamphlets, postcards, stickers, tickets, stamps and other small trinkets. Keeping things in a scrapbook or travel journal can be a fun way to collect, record and reflect upon memories of your time in Australia. At the end of your studies, you’ll also have a cool way to share your study abroad experience with everyone back home.
5. Start a study group
There’s nothing wrong with having a quiet study session by yourself. That being said, studying in a group can be fun, give you extra conversation practice, help you make friends, and expose you to new ways of thinking. If your accommodation has a student lounge, arrange to meet with a group. Get everyone to bring snacks and make sure you end the study session by doing something fun together!
6. Go on student outings
Is there a beautiful park nearby? A mountain to climb? A trip across Australia you’re really keen to do? You don’t have to go alone. Arrange a group holiday or weekend outing with your fellow students and local friends.
Don’t worry about feeling shy. Chances are, everyone else will be a little nervous about making new friends, too. But they’ll also be just as curious to find out what Australia has to offer.
7. Grab the popcorn!
If you’d rather stay in, organising a group event like a games or movie night is a fantastic way to meet dorm-mates, make new friends, practise your conversation skills and just have fun.
Scheduling regular events – like themed movie nights (think horror nights, chick flick nights, and so on) – means there’s always something different going on that everyone can look forward to. Even better if your student accommodation has its own games room or movie theatre!
8. Celebrate the seasons
Celebrating holidays as an international student can be a challenge. When you’re studying abroad and see pictures of family and friends partying in your home country, you might feel like you’re missing out.
But you don’t have to. If you’re staying in student accommodation, there are often parties organised during major holidays (Ramadan, Christmas, Halloween, Holi, or Chinese New Year), or you can set up your own. Now that you’re living away from home, you can celebrate the holidays with your new student family.
9. Skype family and friends from your room
Just because you’ve moved to Australia, it doesn’t mean you can’t invite friends and family from your country into your new home. Organise a time to Skype or FaceTime, make yourself a pot of tea, and settle into a cosy corner for a good chat with people from back home.
Better yet, unplug your laptop, walk around, and treat your friends and family to a video tour of your new apartment (just make sure you decorate it first!).
10. Have dinner with friends
What’s better than settling down with friends for a hearty meal? Organise at least one night in the week where, at the end of a long day, you can come together with your student family to swap different cultural dishes, greetings, laughs and stories over a fantastic dinner.
Famous cook James Beard once said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” Food brings people together. Around the dinner table, you’ll be able to share stories about the challenges and triumphs that come with being an international student.