Thriving in Oz
‘O Week’ (short for orientation week) is held the week before classes start and is compulsory for international students. It is designed to help you understand university, enrol in units and register in classes, understand student visa rules and meet other students.
This week also includes connecting with our schools, getting to get to know the academics and learning about the fun activities to join at your new university. Of course, there are lots of social events in ‘O Week’ and it’s a great way to meet people, find your way around and get a feel for your new home away from home.
All your orientation information will have been sent to you by your university.
Banks, credit unions and building societies all offer a full range of banking services, including access to automatic teller machines (ATMs), online banking and savings. Banks are generally only open during business hours. However, deposits, withdrawals and transfers may be made at any time through ATMs at many locations. If you are using a debit card from an overseas account, it is important to check what fees they charge for transactions. You may also be charged if you use an ATM not associated with your bank. Make sure you know your own bank’s procedures for lost or stolen cards. You should be aware of your personal safety if accessing cash from an ATM at night in quiet areas where there are not many people around.
The following major Australian banks have branches Australia wide:
Banks, credit unions, building societies and ATMs can be found in the main street and in shopping centres in your local area.
Setting up a bank account – Many banks have ‘student accounts’ which contain no or minimal fees for transactions normally attached to regular savings accounts. You will be required to show your student ID card as proof; along with other personal identification to establish your identity.
Your passport and proof of your arrival date in Australia will be acceptable if you open an account within six weeks of arrival in Australia. After this time you will be required to produce additional documentation.
Banking hours – Most banks in Australia are open from Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 4pm and Friday from 9.30am to 5pm (excluding Public Holidays) and usually not open on weekends. However some bank, credit union and building society branches have extended trading hours during the week and open on Saturdays. Check your chosen bank for details.
Lost or stolen cards – If your ATM or credit card is lost or stolen, notify the bank immediately to enable the bank to put an immediate stop on your card.
Safety when carrying money – There are two fundamental rules of safety when carrying money:
Rule Number 1: Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
Rule Number 2: Don’t tell people that you are carrying money.
Before you choose a provider, think about what services you will need such as mobile phone, land line and internet. Australia has many service providers and it is important that you consider which provider and plan best suits your needs. Also consider your location in Australia, as not all providers have suitable access if you are in a regional area.
To set up an Australian phone number you will need a new SIM card. They can be purchased at supermarkets, some newsagents and at telco shops such as Optus and Telstra. If you’re not sure who is the best provider in your new town ask a few people, they will know.
How to make domestic calls –
Dial: area code + local number.
Area Code States:
07 Queensland (QLD)
02 New South Wales (NSW), Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
03 Victoria (VIC), Tasmania (TAS)
08 South Australia (SA), Western Australian (WA), Northern Territory (NT)
How to make international calls –
Dial: 0011 + international access code + area code without the first zero + local phone number.
For example: to call China from Australia you would dial 0011 + 81 + area code (no 0) + local number. Australia’s country code is 61.
Australians enjoy freedom in their daily lives. We can live where we want, say what we want, dress how we want and have personal relationships with whomever we want. In being granted a visa to study in Australia, you signed a document (Australian Values Statement Temporary) agreeing to respect Australian values and obey the laws of Australia for the duration of your stay. As an international student, you must also obey these laws, even those that are different to the laws you live with at home.
Failure to comply with the laws of this land could result in a fine or the cancellation of your visa and possible deportation back home. If you are convicted of a serious crime, it could result in imprisonment.
If you are in a situation requiring legal advice you can make a confidential appointment with the international student adviser who can refer you to the appropriate legal service.
Some common laws you should be aware of include:
It’s important you feel safe and secure in your new surroundings. This may take some time, but you will get there.
If you feel threatened or overwhelmed, try to find someone who will help you. If you are on the street go into an open shop or restaurant and try to ask for help calmly. Most people are friendly and welcoming.
In the case of any emergency there is one number to call for the police, ambulance and fire brigade: 000
While Australia is a safe country, you should ALWAYS take precautions to maximise your safety and security. Study in Australia also provides useful information about your health and safety.
Sexual Assault is a criminal offence – if you are assaulted, call the police on 000 immediately, and contact the International Student Adviser for support and assistance or 1800 732 551 outside business hours.
The New South Wales Police Force have developed a series of videos about staying safe in Australia, including subtitled versions in:
Tips on fire safety
Tips on beach, water and bush safety
If you haven’t already found long term accommodation before moving to Australia the best place to start will be your university liaisons. They will be able to help you know where to look, what agencies may be able to help you and how rigorous the processes are. If you’re confused be sure to ask more than once.
If you’re going to be living off campus, it’s important you have all the facts and know what you are signing up for.
Before you rent accommodation in Australia, it is important you understand the rental process and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Make sure you are familiar with the tenancy information relevant to the state you will be living: ie New South Wales – Fair Trading or Queensland – Residential Tenancies Authority.
The task of choosing a roommate needs to be taken very seriously. The person or persons with whom one decides to live can affect the quality and productiveness of a student’s experience in Australia. You should also consider the following:
The official Study in Australia guidelines recommend budgeting between AU$85 (~US$61) and AU$440 (~US$317) per week for accommodation, depending on whether you stay in shared accommodation on campus (the cheapest), or in private rented accommodation (the most expensive).
Other weekly expenses include:
To simplify, this works out to a minimum of around AU$311 (~US$224) per week.
Most Australian universities provide detailed breakdowns of the cost of living in Australia on their websites, including student accommodation and sometimes even local area prices and advice. For example, Southern Cross University offers this breakdown page with the costs of private rental, compare to on campus accommodation and homestay accommodation.
Remember the costs listed by the university will usually be for an academic year (about 40 weeks), rather than a calendar year, so you will need to budget extra if you want to stay longer.
This advice is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation, needs or goals. You should consider whether the advice is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.