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What International Students Love About Western Sydney

This article is sponsored by Western Sydney University

There are so many reasons Western Sydney is a great place to live, study and work for international students. But don’t just take our word for it!

We sat down with Christina (from China) and Ishi (from Sri Lanka), both studying at Western Sydney University (WSU), to discover the six things they love most about living and studying in Western Sydney.

Multiculturalism

Western Sydney is home to residents from over 170 countries who speak more than 100 different languages. In fact, 35 per cent of the region’s population was born overseas.

This ethnic diversity is the thing both Christina and Ishi love most about living in Western Sydney. Christina says the melting pot of cultures, languages, religions and food (more on that later!) makes the region an exciting and vibrant place to live and study as an international student. Ishi has enjoyed making friends from many different cultural backgrounds and learning about their festivals and celebrations.

Lifestyle

Christina loves the lifestyle options in Western Sydney, which covers nearly two-thirds of Sydney’s total land area. She tells us that Parramatta – known as Sydney’s second CBD – provides all the same cosmopolitan experiences as a capital city. The area is busy, and there is always something to do.

Christina’s favourite activity in fast-paced Parramatta is to indulge at one of the many ethnically diverse restaurants. Residents are spoiled for choice when eating out in Western Sydney, with favourites including Lebanese chicken at El Jannah, world-class pho at An Restaurant and Ethiopian at Gursha Restaurant.

However, Christina also loves spending quiet time down by the Parramatta River which, she tells us, feels like a different world. Similarly, Ishi likes walking through the gorgeous buildings at WSU with her friends during their breaks.

Networking opportunities

Living and studying in Western Sydney provided opportunities for Christina and Ishi to build both their personal and professional networks. Christina enjoyed studying alongside predominantly Australian classmates; she said it was a great opportunity to experience local culture and pick up some Aussie slang. 

Both Christina and Ishi landed jobs with education providers. Ishi is currently working in the Student Experience Office, and Christina has just completed a contract role as a casual research assistant in a field related to her studies (Master of Social Work).

Christina was recommended for the role by a classmate who she connected with in class. Her advice is to make the most of all opportunities presented to you throughout your studies. She also encourages reaching out to your classmates outside of your course to create new friendships.

Both students suggest joining university-organised social events to build your personal and professional network as an international student. Between them, they have attended bingo, Pictionary and yoga classes, which were great ways to make friends.

Lastly, Ishi believes you should make the most of the career-focused resources available at your education provider. This is where you learn key job search skills like writing a resume and cover letter, and answering common interview questions. Her key piece of advice for international students is to create a LinkedIn profile and take part in internships, where possible.

Support for international students

There is ample support for international students studying in Western Sydney, which Christina and Ishi appreciate. Ishi highly recommends making use of student support services. At WSU, these include Student Central, peer-assisted study sessions and subject-specific support.

These, as well as the various international-student specific resources, made Christina feel part of the community. She found the staff “helpful, friendly and like they really care about you”.

Christina encourages you to reach out and seek support if you feel you need it. “In many cultures, seeking help is a presentation of weakness”, she says, “but it is not the case here.”

Accommodation options

International students looking to live in Western Sydney have multiple types of accommodation to choose from. The most popular options include student accommodation, private rentals, share houses and homestay.

While Ishi lives with her family, Christina loved the time she spent living with housemates in a private rental in Parramatta. She found the property online and had no issues throughout the rental process.

However, she notes there are pros and cons to living in a private rental, just as there are to living in student accommodation. One of the highlights of student accommodation, she says, is the convenience: “The student accommodation in Parramatta is very close to the university, meaning you reduce your commute time. It is also very safe and secure.”

Great public transport

Christina has never owned a car while living in Western Sydney, telling us the public transport is so great that she’s never needed anything else. Frequent and reliable buses and trains are the easiest way to get around Western Sydney, plus they avoid the stress of parking or the price of petrol.

There is a 30-minute express train that goes from Parramatta to Central Station in the middle of Sydney. It’s a great option if you ever need to travel to the CBD. Ishi previously worked at the International Student Welcome Desk at Sydney Airport, demonstrating just how well-located Western Sydney is for commuting!

Photo courtesy of Destination NSW.