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International Students

Checklists: before leaving home and on your arrival

Before leaving Home:

  • Apply for passport
  • Arrange student visa
  • Make contact with institution 
  • Arrange for immunisations and medications from your doctor
  • Apply for a credit card and/or arrange sufficient funds
  • Confirm overseas access to your funds with your bank
  • Make travel arrangements and advise institution of travel details
  • Arrange travel insurance 
  • Arrange accommodation 
  • Arrange transport from airport to accommodation
  • Pack bags being sure to include the following:
  • Name and contact details of an institution representative
  • Enough currency for taxis, buses, phone in the event of emergencies

Important documents:

  • Passport
  • Letter of offer and electronic confirmation of enrollment (eCoE)
  • Certified copies of qualifications and certificates
  • Travel insurance policy
  • ID cards, drivers license, birth certificate (or certificate copy)

NOTE: Make sure you leave any originals or copies of these documents safely with family in your home country in case of loss.

On Your Arrival:

  • Call home
  • Settle into accommodation, purchase household items and food
  • Contact institution
  • Enrol children in school (if applicable)
  • Attend student and faculty/course specific orientation sessions
  • Get student ID card
  • Advise health insurance company of address and get card
  • Open a bank account
  • Start classes
  • Apply for tax file number if seeking work
  • Get involved in student life and associations

Arranging Travel

You will need to make your own travel arrangements to Australia. Please try to arrive at least 1-2 weeks before the start of International Student Orientation to allow enough time for settling-in, adjusting to the climate and overcoming jet-lag. You should fly into Sydney International Airport, for further information visit www.sydneyairport.com.au.

What to Bring

Students are often surprised by how strict Australian Customs Services and Quarantine can be. If you're in doubt about whether your goods are prohibited or not, declare it anyway on the Incoming Passenger Card which you will receive on the plane. Students have received on the spot fines for not declaring items. Visit the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) homepage www.aqis.gov.au.

Read “What can't I take into Australia?

And also let your family and friends know “What can't be mailed to Australia?

Baggage allowances flying into Australia will vary according to your carrier, flight class and country of origin. Please check with your carrier prior to departure. Economy passengers are generally permitted 1 x checked luggage (35kg) and 1 x carry-on (7kg) for international flights, but only 20kg of checked luggage on domestic flights within Australia. This will significantly limit the amount of things you can bring, especially if you will fly within Australia to get to your final destination.

Therefore, it is essential to think the packing process through very carefully. You will be able to purchase most things upon arrival in Australia but the price may be higher than in your own country.

Summer in Australia is from December to February, autumn from March to May, winter from June to August, and spring from September to November. For most of the country the hottest months are January and February.

If you arrive in June or July, the coldest months of the year, you may need to bring or buy winter clothing and blankets. You may also need to purchase a heating appliance once you arrive.

Other items you might need to include (most can also be purchased in Australia):

  • alarm clock
  • toiletries
  • bath towels, bed sheets, pillow cases
  • umbrella
  • dictionary (bilingual)
  • camera
  • small sewing kit
  • micro recorder for lectures
  • music CDs or iPod
  • spare spectacles or contact lenses
  • sporting equipment
  • your optical prescription
  • swimming costume
  • photos of friends and family
  • small gifts from home

The standard voltage for electrical items in Australia is 240V. Electric plugs have three flat pins one of which is an earth pin. You may need to buy an adaptor or have the plugs changed when you arrive.

Entry into Australia

Australian Immigration

When you first arrive in Australia you will be required to make your way through Australian Immigration (follow the signs for Arriving Passengers as you leave the plane). An Immigration Officer will ask to see your completed Incoming Passenger Card (given to you on the plane) along with your passport and student visa evidence. The Immigration Officer will check your documents and may ask you a few questions about your plans for your stay in Australia.

Australian Customs and Quarantine

Once you have your luggage you will go through Customs. Be careful about what you bring into Australia. Some items you might bring from overseas can carry pests and diseases that Australia doesn’t have. You must declare ALL food, meat, fruit, plants, seeds, wooden souvenirs, animal or plant materials or their derivatives.

Australia has strict quarantine laws and tough on-the-spot fines. All international mail is also screened. Some products may require treatment to make them safe. Items that are restricted because of the risk of pests and disease will be seized and destroyed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). For more detailed information about bringing in food, animals, plants, animal or plant materials or their derivatives visit www.aqis.gov.au.

Adjusting to Life in Australia

While living and studying abroad may be an exciting adventure, it can also present a range of challenges. Having decided to study and live in Australia you will be undertaking adjustments in many areas of your life including cultural, social and academic. It is important to remember that while these changes are occurring you will be embarking upon a new semester of study (for many of you in a different language) and be away from your usual supports, networks and resources.

Adjustment to a new country and culture is a process that occurs gradually and takes time. The values, beliefs, traditions and customs of your home country may vary greatly from those in Australia and adapting to the Australian way of life may take some time. 

This advice may help:

Listen, observe and ask questions

Adjustment to a new culture and way of life takes time. Allow yourself time to observe those around you and patterns of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there are things you do not understand as this will reduce the chance of confusion or misunderstandings.

Become involved

Make an effort to meet people and become involved in groups both on campus and in the wider community. Maintain an attitude of openness to new situations and experiences. Establishing friendships and joining groups is the best way to experience and learn about Australian culture and will certainly mean you have a richer and more enjoyable time here.

Try to maintain a sense of perspective

When confronted with difficulties remind yourself that living and studying abroad is a challenge and it is normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed and out of your depth at times. Try to recall or make a list of the reasons you initially wanted to study abroad in the first place. Listing positive events or changes within yourself that have occurred since you arrived may also assist with getting things in perspective.

Maintain some of the routines and rituals you may have had in your home country

This can include small things such as continuing to drink a certain type of coffee or tea or eating specific foods. It may also include maintaining involvement in bigger events such as celebrating a national day in your country of origin with a group of friends or finding a cultural group related to your home country for support.

Keep lines of communication open with those at home

Communicating with those at home regularly about your experiences of study and life in Australia, through emails, telephones and letters, is vital. Not only does it help to keep you connected with important social supports, it also assists your friends and family to understand your experiences which will smooth the transition when you return home.

Sense of humour

Importantly, remember that living in a different culture means you will inevitably find yourself in a range of unusual and often confusing situations. Being able to laugh in these situations will remind you that it takes time to understand different cultures and that it is ok to make mistakes.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or support if you need it. Finally, relax and enjoy the journey!

Public Holidays and Special Celebrations

Australians hold certain days each year as special days of national meaning. We may recognise the day with a holiday for everyone or we can celebrate the day as a nation with special events. Most States and Territories observe some of the public holidays on the same date. They have others on different dates or have some days that only their State or Territory celebrates. In larger cities, most shops, restaurants and public transport continue to operate on public holidays. In smaller towns, most shops and restaurants close.


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