A Guide to Study Abroad in Australia

By Christine Ascher on June 25, 2018

Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience for a college student, no matter where you go. While many students chose to study abroad in Europe, other locations are gaining in popularity—such as Australia. Study abroad in Australia is great choice for students who are looking for adventure, the chance to spend a lot of time outdoors, and who want to study abroad in a country where they won’t face a language barrier.

However, as with any study abroad experience, traveling in Australia will require a lot of preparation. As you start planning your semester, keep in mind the following things that you should know and ways that you can prepare for study abroad in Australia.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia, Night

Image via https://pixabay.com

Different Study Abroad Opportunities

Australia has a lot of great options for studying abroad, so you’ll have plenty of schools to choose from if that’s where you have your heart set on. While your choice of university may be limited based on the programs that your school offers, you may still have the opportunity to decide what city you’d like to study in. If you want to be in one of Australia’s major cities, consider checking out the University of Melbourne or the University of Sydney. Perth is another great, though lesser known, Australian city to consider; in Western Australia, it’s fairly isolated from other major cities like Sydney, and will make for a unique experience.

The University of Western Australia is a great option if you’re interested in studying in Perth. If your home university doesn’t offer study abroad programs in Australia, or if you’re not happy with the programs that they arrange, don’t worry—you can always find other ways to make the experience happen. For instance, the Council on International Education Exchange, or CIEE, offers several opportunities for students to study abroad in Australia, and their programs allow you to earn college credit in a variety of academic subjects. Another good place to look for study abroad opportunities is IES Abroad, which has a number of programs for college students in Sydney. All in all, if you want to study abroad in Australia, you’ll definitely be able to make it happen!

Infographic by Christine Ascher

Applying for a Visa

In order to study abroad in Australia, you’ll need to get a visa first. The application process can take some time, so make sure that you start applying early in order to obtain your visa before you have to leave. According to Hasna Haidar, writer for the site Top Universities, before you can start applying for your visa, you’ll have to obtain a letter from the university that you’ll be attending confirming that you’ve been accepted.

Once you have that letter, you can use it to help you complete your application. In order to obtain a student visa, you’ll need to fulfill certain requirements. For instance, you’ll have to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds for your airfare and living costs while abroad and, you’ll have to demonstrate proficiency in English if you’re not originally from an English-speaking country. In addition, you’ll be expected to meet certain health requirements, so make sure that you schedule a doctor’s appointment if necessary before applying for your visa.

A Guide to Packing

It can be difficult to plan what to pack when you’re going to be living abroad for several months, so it’s a good idea to start early and to create a list to help you stay organized. It’s generally warm in Australia, so pack some lightweight clothes; one benefit of traveling somewhere with a warmer climate is that the majority of clothes that you’ll be bringing won’t take up too much space. However, make sure that you still pack a couple sweaters and a jacket so you’re not caught off-guard if the temperature drops.

Remember that the seasons in Australia will be flipped, so expect warmer temperatures in the winter and cooler temperatures in the summer months. For Australia, you’ll also want to make sure that you pack a swimsuit and some clothes that you can use for more outdoorsy activities. You should also bring along some items that you may not be able to find once you get to Australia, such as any medicine that you might need or specific products that you use which are not available in your host country. Remember to also pack an adapter for your electronics, as the electrical sockets in Australia will be different from those on your power cords.

Living Costs

Your average living expenses while you study abroad in Australia will vary based on your own spending habits, but according to Danielle Desimone in the article “Studying in Australia: What to Know Before You Go,” students can expect to spend around $4,000 to $8,000 on tuition, living costs, and program fees. If you plan to do some traveling within the country during your study abroad program, make sure to budget some extra money towards traveling expenses. It may be a good idea to research the costs of travel so you know what you can expect to spend once abroad.

You may even want to create a rough budget for yourself before you go, to prevent yourself from overspending once you get to Australia, especially considering you probably won’t want to sit down and work out a budget once you arrive. Living costs do tend to be higher in Australia than in the U.S.; according to ISEP, the cost of living in Australia can be between 10 to 30 percent higher than the cost of living in the U.S., so make sure that you take into account the possibility of higher prices for your regular expenses.

Scholarships

Between tuition and travel expenses, the cost of studying abroad can add up pretty quickly. To avoid letting your budget get out of control, it’s a good idea to apply for some scholarships before you go. To find out about scholarships, try speaking to someone in your school’s study abroad office to see if there are any specific scholarships that they can recommend. If that doesn’t work out, you can also find plenty of scholarships online.

Websites such as studyinaustralia.gov.au are great places to look for different types of scholarships available to American students specifically for study abroad in Australia. You can also use scholarship databases such as Scholarship Portal and FastWeb to search for different types of scholarships to apply for. Considering how easily you can go over budget when studying abroad, it’s worth spending some time filling out applications—you can end up saving a lot of money!

Health Insurance

When studying abroad, your normal student health insurance will not be applicable, so you’ll have to get temporary health insurance to cover you while in Australia. In most cases, if you have a student visa you’ll be required to purchase insurance through Overseas Student Health Cover, or OSHC, a health care program that will help you with medical expenses in the event of an emergency, or if you need to visit a doctor during your stay in Australia.

According to the site Study in Australia, you can purchase an OSHC plan either through your university or independently online. Make sure that you do some research into what your insurance plan covers before you leave, so you’re prepared in the case of an emergency once you’re abroad.

Local Currency

Before you leave for your semester abroad, don’t forget to get some of the local currency so you have some cash handy as soon as you arrive. You’ll probably need some Australian dollars to cover your transportation costs from the airport, so it’ll be easier for you if you exchange money before you leave. While you can exchange cash at the airport, you’ll usually end up having to pay a higher exchange rate. It’s best if you order Australian currency from your bank, as that way you’ll avoid having to pay an extra fee.

Keep in mind that in Australia, merchants will sometimes charge surcharges if you use a credit card, so it’s a good idea to always have some cash with you. If your bank at home is affiliated with a major Australian bank, try to find an ATM with that bank where you’ll be able to take out cash without having to pay a heavy fee. Make sure you also keep in mind the exchange rate; as it tends to fluctuate, check online or with your bank to find out the current exchange rate before you leave. In addition, you’ll need to remember to notify your bank when you’ll be traveling, to avoid having your account frozen when you start using your cards in Australia.

Beach, ocean, sand, Australia

Image via https://pixabay.com

Local Slang

While studying abroad in Australia means that you won’t have to speak a foreign language, you will need to pick up on some of the local slang if you want to talk to and get to know some of the locals. A lot of Australian slang is centered on shortening words—for instance, locals may say “arvo” rather than “afternoon”—so if you’re lost in a conversation, remember that!

Try to look up some popular slang online before you leave, or if you can, ask a student who has studied in Australia before for some help. Though you’ll be able to pick up on some Australian slang once you’ve been there for a little while, it’ll definitely help to get a head start, as that way you’ll feel more comfortable conversing with locals right away.

Safety Tips

While Australia is a country with a relatively low crime rate, there are nevertheless some precautions that you should take while abroad. One potential hazard that you’ll need to be aware of is the sun, which can be stronger than you’re probably used to. Make sure you wear lots of sunscreen when you’re going out, and try to bring some lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants along with you so you don’t run the risk of getting burned.

If you’re visiting the beach, pay attention to where you choose to swim as the currents can sometimes become dangerously strong and sharks may be lurking in the water. On public beaches, red and yellow flags will indicate the portion of water that you should stick to. In addition, as with any major city, be wary of pickpockets, especially in popular tourist areas. Keep an eye on your personal belongings, and make a copy of your passport and visa just in case they get stolen. In the event of an emergency, remember that the number for emergency services in Australia is 000. You should also enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, before you leave. Through STEP, you will be notified of any major emergencies in your area while traveling and will receive information about any safety precautions that you’ll need to take.

Popular Activities

Australia is home to some iconic destinations, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Sydney Opera House. Wherever you’ll be studying in the country, you’ll have no shortage of things to do. Due to their weather and terrain, Australia is a great place for outdoor activities, such as hiking, surfing, and even just hanging out at the beach. If you’re up for an adventure, you can also take a road trip through the infamous Australian Outback to explore some of the country’s natural landscape.

If you want to explore the country’s history, you can check out Port Arthur, which is a former convict settlement that you can now tour. Some other popular destinations include the Sydney Harbour, the national park Kakadu, and Uluru, a sandstone monolith that is considered an iconic Australian landmark. Try making a list of the places you’d like to go and things you’d like to do before you leave, as that way you’ll be sure not to forget anything!

Australia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for students who want to study abroad, and it holds a lot of distinct advantages; you won’t have to worry about learning a new language for one thing, and Australia is generally a safe country to visit. However, considering you’ll be there for several months, you’ll still need to do some research and preparation before you leave in order to ensure that your study abroad experience goes smoothly. As long as you do your homework, you’ll be in for a great semester!

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a senior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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