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Welcome Back to Sydney: A Guide for International Students

This article is sponsored by UTS

From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption – and you might be one of them!

Cities across the country are excitedly preparing to welcome you back, including the city of Sydney. Sydney is one of the most vaccinated places in the world, with almost 95 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, so you’ll find it easy and safe to enjoy all the city has to offer. That said, there are also some preparations you can make on your end. To make your journey a simple one, here are a few things to consider when travelling and fun activities to explore once you get here.

Arriving in Sydney

If you’re travelling to Australia, you must complete an Australian Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before departure. If you were vaccinated outside of Australia and don’t have an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, you need to obtain a certificate from the country you were vaccinated in. The vaccine you received must be recognised or approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). You’ll also need to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight’s scheduled departure even if you’re fully vaccinated.

Getting home from the airport

Once you’ve arrived, it’s important that you get to your home or accommodation safely. When travelling home from the airport, make sure you are wearing a face mask at all times. Sanitise your hands regularly, avoid making physical contact with others and check in using the Service NSW Covid Safe QR codes.

All fully vaccinated international travellers arriving in NSW must take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RATs) approved in Australia within 24 hours of arriving in NSW and isolate until they receive a negative result. A follow up rapid antigen test is required on or after day six after arriving in NSW. A test on day 12 is strongly recommended. Please see the approved list of RATs on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

You can learn more about the rules for international arrivals in NSW here.

Where to live in Sydney

Next comes the fun part: choosing where to live! In Sydney, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cool suburbs. Accessible public transport, buzzing cafés, cool bars, incredible landmarks – these are just a few of the awesome reasons to live in Sydney. Suburbs like Darlington, Marrickville, Randwick and Parramatta are a few examples of some of the most student-friendly suburbs in Sydney.

Getting a job in Sydney

Planning to work while you study? As an international student, you’re permitted to work up to 40 hours per fortnight. But, always make sure to check the conditions attached to your visa. Be sure to check out our step-by-step guide to finding work in Australia to make your job hunt as smooth as possible.

As Sydney begins to reopen, there will be plenty of jobs available to help out with the influx of incoming tourists and international students, which is perfect if you’re looking for a bit of extra income. Working at a café or supermarket are great, flexible options that you can schedule around your classes.

Eager to start building a career in Sydney? Following the pandemic, there have been big changes in Sydney’s in-demand industries. So, it’s worth understanding what the jobs of the future are, so you can start to plan your career pathway.

Fun things to do in Sydney

Vibrant and exciting, there’s always something to look forward to when you live in Sydney.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge shines every night of the year, but especially on New Year’s Eve. With projections, music and fireworks, Sydney New Year’s Eve is a celebration not to be missed. Register to attend a vantage point free of cost and make a night of it by grabbing dinner from one of the many restaurants in the area.

Starting on 6 January, the Sydney Festival is the perfect way to kick off 2022. Cabaret, circus, dance, film, music, theatre – you name it and you’ll find it here. With over 130 events, the month-long festival has something for everyone. If you’re on a tight student budget, don’t worry – many of the events are free!

Sydney Chinese New Year Festival 2022 will run from 29 January to 13 February. It’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy live music, food stalls, parades and fireworks. Plus, it’s completely free! There will be plenty of market stalls, a traditional dragon boat race in Darling Harbour, lantern exhibitions and so much more. 

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival is a world-renowned celebration of love, equality and inclusion. Kicking off with a colourful parade at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Mardi Gras runs from 18 February to 6 March. It includes a program of awesome free events like Fair Day, as well as a ticketed program full of parties, comedy, music and visual arts. To get the most out of this lively event, consult our guide to Mardi Gras.

Vivid Sydney 2022 will run from 27 May to 18 June. It’s an award-winning annual celebration of light, music and technology that transforms the city streets with 3D projections and stunning light displays. Vivid Sydney also features an eclectic music program and thought-provoking talks.

Other great events to pop into your calendar include the Sydney Running Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival and Sydney Solstice


When you arrive in Sydney, you’ll have ample support available to you. Service NSW and Study NSW offer guidance and helpful resources to international students. They can assist you with obtaining identity documents, finding translation and interpreter services, emergencies and safety, working while studying, accommodation and more. Your education provider will also offer the support you need to help make your time in Sydney bright and successful. Be sure to consult your institution’s website to see what resources are available.

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