I purposely waited a long time before writing my second blog post because I wanted to have done everything on my list. Now I am actually sitting in my room, in Sydney, listening to a siren and trying to concentrate- crazy how fast life moves huh?!
So upon reading my first post Sydney calling ,I realise how blind we are before flying off to another country. By this I mean, I was so hung up on fixing my Visa and getting all the paperwork sorted that it never actually sunk in that I am going to live, study and work (hopefully) on the other side of the world for 6 months. So advice number one to future exchange students would probably be don’t stress it. Enjoy the anticipation and embrace the feeling of excitement for the unknown!
Having said that…it really helps to get things done before you leave, if you can. So some tips as to what you can think about before leaving:
1)Bank account and money transfer: For Australia specifically I opened up a student bank account online with Commonwealth bank . This was really helpful because I could send money over before even arriving in Australia (note however that you cannot take money out until you show up with your ID for obvious reasons). The way I transferred money was via TransferWise . It was by far the easiest, fastest and most economical way. However, you do also want to have some cash on you as soon as you arrive so I ordered Australian dollars from Travelex.
2)Visa: Now this was quite a struggle to say the least as I was awaiting the confirmation of enrolment letter from the University…and it was sent to me a month before the semester was meant to start. Although the application for the Visa itself was very easy- all done online. Just be patient and do your research as to what Visa you need.
3)Choose modules/units: I was not sure which modules to pick so I just went with three that seemed quite interesting. Keep in mind that its easier once you are actually at the University and usually you have about a week after the start of semester to change your mind. So don’t panic if you are unsure.
4)Accommodation: After asking around I had the impression that the better option (for Sydney) was to avoid student accommodation and find something by myself. So after staying in a hostel for 5 days I looked around but did not really see any rooms that were right for me. So in the end I went with the student accommodation and I am so glad I did. Keep in mind that when you are going away for one semester to a place where you don’t know anyone, student halls can be a good way to meet people. Sydney is an extremely expensive city to live in…and I mean extremely. But I highly recommend the student halls I am staying at, called Queen Mary. The price is quite good for what they offer, and they offer A LOT (including pool tables, a roof-garden, 2 sky lounges, a movie theatre and a huge study area). So my advise for finding accommodation would be to go with the student halls, especially if you are only on exchange for one semester…it makes things easier.
All in all, the best advice I can give is the most cliché one: do not stress, just do your research and enjoy the experience!
I promise my next posts will not be as boring as this one…now its time to actually explore Australia! (Oh yeah and the University of course)
Some pictures of Sydney so far: although they really don’t do it justice!