Welcome to life and study in Western Australia and to a new stage in your life journey. Here are some survival hints to help you to make the most of this time of change.
Choices: Your life will take on a whole new pattern. It will be up to you to make decisions about many things which at home you took for granted or about which your parents made decisions. You will have choices about such things as getting up on time, attending classes and doing your studies. You will also choose new friends, how to spend free time and your money. It is important to take these matters seriously and to consider what choice your parents would like you to make in any situation.
Recreation: Your school or college may have different sports or other recreational activities for students such as chess, swimming, athletics, football, soccer, rugby, theatre or music. Joining one of these is a good way to settle in, overcome homesickness, form friendships and to relax. There are also many ‘nightclubs’ in Perth; as a student under 18 years of age it is against the law for you to go into a nightclub.
Drugs: It is possible you will encounter a situation where illegal drugs are offered to you. Your safety is the most important consideration. Please consider very carefully the consequences of how you react. Don’t be afraid to refuse and walk away from the situation. There are serious legal and health consequences to using illegal drugs. Make sure you are well informed – many schools and colleges have programs to inform students about both illegal and legal drugs. It is illegal for any person under the age of 18 to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. Here in WA it is now illegal to smoke in restaurants, cafes’ and all other places where food is served.
Food: At first you may think some Aussie food is very different from back home. Perth is a multicultural city and it is likely you will find many foods similar to those you may have in your own country.
Friends: Without your familiar classmates, you may feel a bit lost and lonely at first. Remember there are other new arrivals in the same situation. Make an effort to be friendly and speak to others in your class to help you find others with similar interests. This will help you to you make new friends quite quickly.
Health and Medical: It is important to keep up a healthy lifestyle i.e. choose to get enough sleep, eat sensibly and exercise regularly. If you feel unwell, talk with your student adviser or homestay host. Decide whether you should visit a doctor and if you need to; ask help to make an appointment at a medical centre.
Homestay: The homestay you move into may be a real home from home for you, or you may simply need to make the best of it until you can move elsewhere. Your student adviser will try to make sure you are comfortably settled. Talk to your student adviser if you are having problems and see further on in the guide for further help in this area.
Homework/study: This is another important choice. If you want to succeed then homework and revision just have to be done. Work out a daily and weekly timetable for yourself so that you are able to complete assignments on time and spend some time on revision or catching up on any topics you find difficult. The methods of teaching and learning may be different from those you are used to at home. Teachers are there to help. It is important to ask them for assistance if you are having difficulties with any of your subjects or with working out what is expected. Don’t be shy about doing this early in your study programme, as advisors and teachers are expecting you to approach them in the early part of your programme, so that they can help you progress more confidently. You may not receive the assistance you need if you ask for help ‘at the last minute’ or at a time very close to when an assignment is due.
Parents: Your parents will look forward to news from you – be in regular contact with them. If they are not able to exchange email or text messages with you then send regular letters or postcards by ordinary mail. Some things about your life in Australia may seem very foreign to your parents. This is all part of your adjusting to two cultures and to learning to live independently away from home. When you go for holidays you may even feel a sense of restriction at being back home.
Prejudice: In all countries, we may encounter prejudice from people in any country at any time. Prejudice usually arises from fear and ignorance and sometimes from past influences. A person who is prejudiced often fears and dislikes others who seem “different”. They “look down” on people they see as outsiders or “foreigners”. Prejudice may result in racist attitudes and actions. If you feel someone is acting in a prejudiced or racist manner, it is probably best to keep away from the person or situation. It is also a good idea to go and see your student advisor to discuss the situation, to be reassured that you are doing what is the right thing to do in the situation you have been placed in.
Problems: (see also “Stress” below) there are hazards in every person’s life journey. Your life journey is no exception. With some problems it is important to seek proper help early, before the matters grow too big, especially if the difficulty is affecting your health, your studies or your class attendance. Your student advisor, counsellor or other school or college staff members, who are especially appointed to help international students, will be able to help you with your concerns and worries. It is better to do this SOONER rather than LATER, so that you don’t have too many things to worry about.
Stress: As human beings we experience stress from all sorts of things throughout our lives. In our normal lives we live we know how to cope with the things that cause some things in our lives. However, high stress levels often occur when you are leaving home, coming to a new country to study, managing money, eating strange food, finding your way around, meeting deadlines, exams, girl/boy friend problems, illness at home, the list could go on. This amount of stress can cause you to feel really down and stressed out. When faced with large tasks or problems, tell yourself to stay calm and tackle only one action at a time. Break down the problem into manageable steps or bite sized pieces. We highly recommend that you try and work this out through discussing the problems with your student advisor. The talking and sharing of your problems may be embarrassing to you talking to a stranger in a foreign country; may you be encouraged to know that many students before you have done this and been glad that they did – it’s like lifting a huge weight off my back (to quote one student) .
Teasing & bullying: People who bully or tease others unkindly are usually unhappy people themselves. Many campuses now have programs to deal with bullying. If you experience bullying, then talk to a student advisor or other trusted staff member.
Exploitation: If you decide to work part time (Department of Immigration rules of your visa will not allow you to work more than 20 hours per week while you are studying), it is most important that your employer pays you correctly and treats you fairly. If this does not happen, there are laws to protect you. Talk to your student advisor for more information.