Living in student accommodation is a fantastic way to make new friends and share the experience of being an international student in Australia. But, how should you take the first step towards building a new community in Australia?
We spoke to Campus Perth resident Ziwei Mao who offered some advice on finding a sense of community while living in student accommodation and how to make your new residence a home away from home.
First up, it’s all about creating an accepting mindset. You’ll probably find that most people living in student accommodation are really keen to meet new people, so it helps to go into the situation open-minded and ready to welcome others into your social circle.
“I really recommend students branch out and try to step out of their rooms to meet new people – there are so many different people from different backgrounds to meet and get to know,” says Ziwei. “Very rarely will you ever see anyone be unwelcoming or uninterested in getting to know another person; which I think defines student accommodation.”
Attend Social Events
It’s really important to make an effort to put yourself out there and meet new people while living in student accommodation. One of the best ways to do this is by getting involved in as many social events as you can fit around your studies.
Most student accommodation providers have a busy schedule of social events to suit anyone’s interests. From movie marathons to themed parties, games, food nights, tours, and everything in between, they’re a chance to have fun and get to know the people you live with.
Use Your Health and Wellbeing Facilities
Take advantage of any health and wellbeing facilities on offer at your student accommodation. They’re a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people while keeping in top mental and physical shape.
Many student accommodation providers offer gyms, as well as classes where you can de-stress and learn new skills at the same time. Yoga, Pilates, and self-defence classes are just some of the great ways to stay fit and healthy while making new friends. Some providers, like Campus Perth, even provide cooking classes, which are a popular choice for those looking to boost their culinary skills and cook up a storm in the communal kitchen.
Check with your student accommodation provider to find out what health and wellbeing activities are being offered at your location.
Spend Time In Communal Areas
Sometimes, the best way to find a sense of community in student accommodation is to spend time in the many communal areas available and make use of shared facilities.
Communal kitchens offer a great opportunity to mix with other students over a meal and learn about each other’s diverse backgrounds.
“Walking into a communal kitchen, you’ll often see students who were complete strangers to each other before [and are] getting to know each other whilst cooking and eating,” says Ziwei.
Whether it’s watching a movie together, playing video games or studying, common areas are awesome places to get to know each other.
Seek Out Your RA
While living in student accommodation, the presence of a Resident Advisor can be invaluable.
An RA is typically a senior student whose job it is to take care of other students and support their wellbeing. This can mean anything from dealing with noise complaints, lock-outs and maintenance issues, to providing support to students who are struggling with aspects of university life.
An RA can point you in the right direction so you know you can get help when you need it. Best of all, conversations are kept private so you can feel confident in discussing anything that’s troubling you.
“If students have an issue, they can feel comfortable in knowing that an RA will always listen to whatever concern they have and work with them in the process of resolving that concern,” says Ziwei.
Make Your Room Your Own
A few personal touches can go a long way to making your temporary living space feel like a real home. After all, we all feel more comfortable when we’re surrounded by our own things.
Go ahead and decorate your space with photos and mementos that remind you of home and your loved ones. But, don’t forget to leave some room for the new stuff you’re bound to buy in Australia and for all those amazing memories you’ll be making during your time abroad.
Ziwei can’t recommend this point enough: “By doing so, you’ll start to create an environment that will become reflective of you as a person – where you can eventually feel at home in.”