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Oversea Students in Australia

Oversea Students in Australia


As an oversea student, after deciding to study or live in another country which its language is totally different from yours, the first thing he/she MUST do is to take a language exam. It cannot only improve you can study or live in that country without difficulties, but demonstrate your academic level ! It is very important for non-english speakers countries in particular.


IELTS can be a very vital matter, if they cannot meet requirement, they have to change their plans. (Many friends of mine faced with this problem in 2015 and some of them had to choose to work for a while in order to gain some working experiences instead of going abroad.) Lots of oversea students may take a long period to prepare IELTS exam without resting. I could imagine once they achieve the requirement, one thing many students would like to do is to throw their IELTS books away and go out with their friends or families to enjoy their holidays and take a long break without touching english books

After this early-stage preparation, they should prepare their VISA and COE and other relevant materials. Before they come to Australia, oversea students may love to take some times to go through the websites such as “google”, “Baidu”and so on to ask questions about Australia in order to know more about Australia from their seniors and local people.Although they try their best to prepare all of these, they still face with some difficulties.  These difficulties they cannot avoid it, they have to accept it.


The first problem is WEATHER. When oversea students arrive at Australia, some of them can acclimate as soon as possible maybe because they live in the same hemisphere. However, people who live in north hemisphere, China for example, weather is totally opposed to Australia, if they ignore to change their clothes or ignore the weather issue, they may catch cold or cause illness once they arrive at Australia.

981739_770150813022992_5930113472819470442_oThe Second problem is PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. For many Chinese students, Australia has a different mode of vehicle driving. In China, people are familiar with left hand drive, while in Australia, the left hand is for passengers. Lots of oversea students, Chinese students in particular, may make a fool of themselves. What’s more, bus in Australia will not stop at every bus stop unless someone is waiting and waving hand, and they will not broadcast the bus stop either! Further more, students should check the timetable before they go out, if they forget to check timetable or Perth-Train-Station
they arrive at bus stop late, the only thing for them is to wait(During weekends, they maybe have to wait for one hour). Actually, It is totally different in China. Public transportation in China will stop and broadcast the bus stop all the time in order to make sure passengers can get off the bus at the correct bus stops(although some of them still get off at wrong stop). Many Chinese students  may get off only based on their instinct(their instinct always let them get off at the wrong bus stop)!If they go pass their destination, they have to walk back or wait for return bus!  Public transportation in Perth would not like to arrive on time, so it is important to check timetable on  TRANSPERTH before they want to go out! If you get lost, PLEASE REMEMBER TO USE GOOGLE MAP ! It can help you to find the correct way and  you can find the timetable on it too(although sometimes it does not work!)

The third is Australian people prefer to use acronym or shorten their words. When oversea students arrive at Australia, they may feel confused about it and it takes time to think about what it means. The way to deal with this problem is to take more opportunities to talk with local people. Once you do not understand, be brave to ask them.

The last but not the least, is FOOD. Food here is totally different from China or other Asian countries. At the very beginning, oversea students may try to eat local food instead of cooking by themselves, then they may try their best to find out some materials to cook their own food instead of eating local food.

After all these “run-in period” oversea students may get use to live in Australia although there are still some inconvenience. However, many oversea realise that there is a big problem is waiting for them, that is different way of study. They are not familiar with Australians’ study styles, it is very urgent for oversea students especially Asian students to find out solutions so that they can solve this problem and build up their confidence. Some of my friends (both domestic and international students) would like to give new arrival international students some useful tips to make sure they won’t recommit the same error.

Here are some helpful tips for oversea students :   (Chinese students as an example)

Be brave in Class and be ready of class

One problem most of Chinese oversea students face with is that they are afraid to express themselves and ask questions in particular when they have some academic issue in class. They are afraid of asking questions and answer questions. They are too shy to demonstrate their own ideas. In Australia, you’d better to be active in class, if students do not understand, please BE BRAVE, ask questions without hesitation. Professors love to share their ideas and understandings with students. Students can also broaden their horizon when they are talking to their classmates and professors. It is the best way to enrich their knowledges and improve academic skills.

Also, be ready of class. Professors may raise some questions or discussions in class which are related to the relevant reading materials or textbooks. If students forget or ignore these, they cannot fully participate in class and they will feel confused about what the professor is talking about; What’s more, preparation before class can let students know more about the class content and their inadequacies, if students can find their shortcomings before class, they can enhance their abilities and make up for deficiencies in class; Also it is a good method for them to practice their academic skills and acquire knowledge.

Join a uni club and make new friends

Join a uni club can connect students especially oversea students with local students, and they can also make new friends. For most of oversea students, join a uni club mean they can communicate with others and at the same time improve their spoken english. Uni club give them a platform to talk with others and exchange their worldview, their values and  their unique experiences with others. Both domestic and oversea students can take this opportunities to enhance their understandings of the whole world and get close to each other. Maybe they can find their friends of life when they join a uni club.

Read newspapers and watch news

Reading domestic and international newspaper and watching news online or through tvs  help oversea students to acquire knowledge and learn expressions. When they read local news, they can learn expressions and improve their critical thinking, and  they can enrich their worldview through international news. Also it is a good method for them to practice writing and reading skills.

Develop clear study plan and study smarter

Making a study plan can help oversea students in particular to study smarter. They can have a to do list to organise their study plan and upload their homework on time. In UWA, you can join STUDYSmarter at the beginning of the whole semester, and make your personal study plan to make sure you can organise your time in perfect order.

Participate activities

In China many students prefer to study all the time without participating in other activities such as sports, social practice,etc. In Australia, students are  advocated to take part in social activities. So oversea students should pay attention to both study and their social activities in order to  be a qualified personnel of full development. And also it is a good way for them to relax and help them integrate into society.

Studying abroad is an unforgettable memory for many oversea students. Although there are some difficulties for oversea students to overcome,  it is still precious for all of them!  Let’s try utmost to make our lives colourful and live a meaningful live!


  1. Hi Ma, you have covered pretty much most of the difficulties and challenges overseas students are facing here in Australia. Well done! Here I would like to put a bit of my personal views, as a student from China, over some of the points you have made above:

    About the WEATHER: I love the weather in Perth! (as I’m sure most people do) Comparing to the overall weather in China, here we get heaps of sun throughout the year. The winter here is mild and short, comparing to the long freezing snowy winters in northern and middle China. The summer here is dry and comfortable, comparing to the hot sticky humid summer in China (and I love the awesome beaches in Perth!).
    About the FOOD: Indeed the food here could be somewhat different to what we have in Asian countries, I do appreciate the fact that we could find almost all sorts of cuisines in here, thanks to the multiculturalism of Australia.
    About the STUDY AND EDUCATION: I believe the educational system here in Australia is more advanced comparing to the examination-oriented educational system in China. Here we pay more attention to the research skills of the students rather than making students memorise theories. Since Australia has comparatively less population, it is possible for students to put theories into practice. And with uni clubs and the colourful uni culture, it is much easier for uni students to make new friends and socialise comparing to the “boring” uni experience in China.

  2. Hi Jing, I enjoyed reading your article and to be honest, if I ever come across your article before I come to Perth it’ll definitely be a great help. If I may, though, I would like to add on a little to your article so that future international students can be better-prepared for their new life here in Australia.

    Firstly, the weather. I would like to highlight to international students to not take the weather in Australia lightly. I’m from Malaysia (same hemisphere as Australia) and I still find the weather here very different from where I came from. Before coming here, I researched on Perth’s climate and I’m glad to know that the weather here is not as different as the weather in Malaysia (even though there are four seasons, but the temperature does not seem too extreme – nothing below 0). When a family friend who’s been living here in Perth for quite some time warned me that it might get a little bit too cold in Perth in fall and winter and for me to pack more clothes for winter and forgo the summer wear, I scoffed and didn’t pay him any mind. “How cold could it get, anyway?” And now, I fully regret that. To all prospective international students planning to study in Australia (especially Perth), PACK WARMLY. Don’t underestimate how cold Perth’s winter could be.

    Next, for transportation. I totally agree with checking Transperth website for bus timetable, but better yet, download the Transperth mobile app! It’s available on both Google Playstore and Apple App Store. It’s definitely handy to have the app at hand when you’re travelling and need to check the bus timetable. [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/transperth/id786024974?ls=1&mt=8 and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.gov.wa.pta.transperth&hl=en%5D

    Lastly, the food. Honestly, the food in Australia does not suit my taste. I prefer my food to be more… savoury. But, to cook one portion for each meal is difficult because Asians (at least in my case) prefer to have a variety of flavours for each meal. My suggestion for this would be, look for a group of friends who has similar tastes in food and set up a system: either potluck meal or take turns cooking for the group. That way, you get to eat different menu each meal and a variety of food that suit your taste. 🙂

    That’s about it from me, but… if any prospective students need a different input on what they need to know in preparation before arriving in Australia, they can check out these blog posts from Beini (http://blogs.uwa.edu.au/pandadownunder/2016/08/20/the-preparation-before-studying-in-australia/) and myself: (http://blogs.uwa.edu.au/pandadownunder/2016/08/20/yesses-and-noes/) ?

  3. It was very refreshing to read another perspective on being a student in Perth. There is something universal in the story that applies to most international students, I guess (comparing to my own experience in various countries ages ago). Perhaps it’s part of a larger story of migration. I guess stories of mid 20th century continental European migrants in Perth wouldn’t be much different in essence (comments on food, weather, transport).

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