One of the most exciting parts of moving to Australia as an international student is carving your own path and finding your way in the world. That said, the experience of moving to a new country can be daunting, and it carries its fair share of challenges. From culture shock to making new friends, moving and settling in Australia is no easy feat – but it’s so incredibly worth it.
Wondering how to overcome the difficulties of moving to a new country? We’ve compiled a few tips to make this major transition a little less scary and a lot more fun.
Move into a residential college
A popular accommodation choice for international students, residential colleges are ideal for new arrivals. With a built-in community of students, you won’t need to look far to make friends in your new city. Most residential colleges feature shared facilities, including common rooms, gyms and outdoor areas, giving you plenty of opportunities to cross paths with new people. And that’s not to mention the range of social and recreational activities on offer, such as parties, trivia and movie nights, and even balls.
Plus, living in a residential college can help with mitigating culture shock. When it comes to culture shock and how to deal with it, there isn’t a single “right” answer. But having other people around you who are in a similar situation – such as fellow international students – can make you feel less alone in handling such challenges and settling into your new home. That was certainly the case for Vanessa Vaz, an international student from Singapore currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laboratory Medicine at the University of South Australia.
“As I got settled into uni life and made friends, I didn’t find [adjusting to life in Australia] as challenging as I thought it would be,” she says. “It helped that I was constantly surrounded by friendly people who were always willing to help.”
Enrol in a buddy program
Upon arriving in Australia, many international students wonder how to make friends at uni or college. Fortunately, buddy systems present an amazing solution to this exact concern. These are ordinarily where new students will be partnered with a local student, a student further along in their studies, or alumni, who can help welcome you to the country and familiarise you with the campus.
Several institutions and accommodation providers offer them, including St Ann’s College in Adelaide. Under their Buddy System, each new student is paired with a senior Collegian, typically one who is studying the same degree. Senior buddies start by guiding their junior buddies through Orientation Week (O-Week) activities, however, their support doesn’t end there; they continue to provide junior buddies with academic and social advice throughout the year. Having a friend who has previously been in your shoes will greatly ease your transition into your new life in your new home.
Check with your local study body, institution or accommodation provider to see if there are buddy systems in place that you can sign up for.
Join a society or club
If you’re trying to figure out how to make friends in a new city, don’t worry – these things take time! To speed up the process, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.
Join a society or club through your educational institution or in your neighbourhood. Be sure to prioritise your interests when picking the club that’s right for you. If you love to read, join a book club. Are you super into sport? Join a social sports league at your educational institution or in your local area. By choosing a group that aligns with your interests, you’ll not only enjoy your experience more, but you’ll also meet likeminded people who share your hobbies. If that’s not the best basis for a friendship, we don’t know what is!
You can even go one step further and join virtual clubs and groups through social media. According to Nikita Gribov, an international student from Russia, joining groups on Facebook targeted at your local community is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. “In these groups, you can find lots of events hosted by members, such as a barbecue on Sundays or a trip to the beach,” he says.
Set up your room
So, you’ve found your accommodation and moved in your belongings. Now comes the fun part: styling your new home to make it your own. Stocking your room with furniture and decorative pieces you love is one of the best ways to make your accommodation feel like home. Don’t forget to add cosy lighting fixtures and some greenery to really brighten up the space.
That said, between bedding, furniture and wall art, setting up a new room can be expensive – especially on a student budget. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to the most creative and affordable techniques for decorating your new place on a budget.
While the challenges of moving to a new country are many, you’ll have no trouble overcoming them when you follow these tips. Before you know it, Australia will feel like your home away from home!