The basics
Australia: Before you leave

Student life in Australia

Curious about student life in land down under? We tell you more here.

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Australia is fast becoming a preferred study abroad destination among students today. However, what comes to mind when you think of the Land Down Under? A country that has the highest number of poisonous creatures per land ratio? Or one that is filled with stunning yet harsh natural landscapes? What everyone seems to forget is that most of Australia’s prestigious universities are located in cities that trace its coast, each with a unique character, quirks and slightly different climate. Thinking of studying abroad in Australia? Read our guide on what student life is Australia is all about so that you will have a more accurate idea of what you to expect.

 

LANGUAGE

English may be one of the most widely known and used language in the world, but most countries that do use it will have personalised it with adoptions and variations of the language. Australia is not different. Many an international student might get confused about what a ‘bottle-o’ is and why Aussies seem to keep adding an ‘a’ to the end of their names.  (For the record, a ‘bottle-o’ is slang for a liquor store, and it’s common in Australia to give people nick-names by adding an ‘a’ or ‘o’ to the end of their name.)

Australian humour is dry and conversation often favours the use of sarcasm and irony. Together with seemingly abrupt clusters of shortened words, it can be difficult to understand what’s going on. Australian social convention hinges upon national values of openness and directness, and so may seem a bit confronting to those who aren’t used to it. Do not be discouraged by this apparent shortness.  It’s not that Australians are being crude, excluding you or being rude on purpose; they’re just using language in their localised way, and are most probably just trying to make you laugh and more comfortable.

Once you have a few Australian friends, you’ll pick up the slang in no time, and might even find yourself commandeering irony to crack a few dry jokes.

 

UNIVERSITY CULTURE 

Australia is different than most countries where students live on campus. Here, unlike many other nations, most university students in Australia do not live on campus. In fact, unless students need to travel to another state to study, you don’t live in student accommodation at all: you live at home. This might come across as incongruous with the ‘on-campus’ concept is integral to the experience, however in Australia the whole idea of student life is different. As students are not distinctly tied to campus in the same way, they exercise unique control over ways they choose to engage with their university experience.

Thus, how you choose to engage with the university is entirely up to you. Whether you opt to float in and attend your lectures in silence or make the effort to get to know your peers, everyone will assume that you know what you’re doing and that your university experience is created exclusively of your own free will. This applies to your academic standard, too: if you don’t hand in an assignment you will lose a given percentage of the grade you would have obtained until a cut-off date, after which you will simply fail. Australian universities treat their students as adults. They are expected to take full responsibility for their social and academic efforts.  This might sound intimidating or even cold, but instead comes from a place of respect for your personal space and maturity.

If you need help, do not be afraid to ask: thanks to a number of national quality assurance measures, Australian universities protect the interests and needs of international students to the highest standard in the world. Australians are friendly and will always help you, but will not impinge upon you if you don’t appear to need it. 

 

CAMPUS LIFE

There is most definitely a campus life despite the fact that most students don’t live on campus.

Each Australian university, particularly bigger ones located in capital cities, has a selection of clubs and societies that are almost always completely student managed. These clubs are given a small budget from the university that they use to organise events and services for its members, such as barbeques, concerts and daytime picnics. Many clubs host trips and events open to both local and international students and usually charge a subsidised fee for a weekend that will cover your accommodation, some activity costs and occasionally meals.

For instance, each faculty in the University of Melbourne has its own society which runs an Orientation camp at the start of each academic year. These camps are student-run and typically geared towards first years, but are very popular amongst local students seeking to make new friends. If you can, these sorts of camps are a great way to throw yourself into the thick of Australian university culture, and meet plenty of new people in a similar position as you. It is important to note that local students starting university are just as nervous about making new friends, too. 

 

CAFÉ CULTURE

A large part of Australian culture involves eating out. However, you don’t have to blow a hole in your wallet to participate in this aspect of their culture. Many cafes tend to have student discounts. Check out the hearty rich flavours that are mixed with fresh local produce and don’t miss out on the different types of egg-based specialty gracing the cafes’ menus. They are quite innovative in their use of avocado, feta cheese, thick field mushrooms and chorizo, so be sure to try those concoctions too!

 

AS LOCALS DO

Whilst Australia’s stunning landscapes are a must-see for any international student, 89% of Australians live in urban areas, and so do not travel through unruly deserts or bushlands on their way to class. Living in these bustling metropolises, you will never know a new restaurant will pop up in a newly-converted warehouse space or what interesting developments are lurking behind that alleyway. 

Australian cities are known for being quite expensive, and so it might seem impossible to imagine how students can afford to enjoy active social lives. Most of the places that you see in tourist guidebooks are expensive, but there isn’t a lack of modest, yet wonderful places for you to eat, drink and socialise. Modest, unassuming and usually unadvertised, all Australian cities have a spate of student bars and restaurants where most Aussies head to for a Friday afternoon beer or a Thursday night boogie. Likewise, each city will have several more affordable places that are unadvertised and lay undiscovered by those not familiar with the area. These places definitely exist, all you need to do is explore a little and ask the right people.

 

Now that you’ve got a clearer idea of student life in Australia, why not browse courses in Australia  and start planning your study abroad adventure?

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About Author

A fan of anime and all things Japanese, Khai has been writing professionally since 2010 and “unofficially” for much longer. In her free time, you will often find her baking, reading, travelling and doing everything else in between.

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