Study in Sydney
Sydney is the largest city in Australia, and Sydney’s heart is its CBD. Here you can find famous Australian landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach. Like a lot of large western cities, you can also find a small block called China Town. In the city, you can spend days in fancy shopping centres like Westfield and Queens Victoria’s building. If you are a big food lover, you never know what cuisine is waiting for you at next corner, because in a multicultural city like Sydney you can taste authentic flavours from all over the world.
Besides the CBD, there are plenty of interesting places to visit and hang out. Just a few kilometres to the east of the CBD you will find Surry hills; a suburb filled with bars, pubs and restaurants that are well known on Instagram and Facebook. Moreover, a lot of festivals are held here including the most popular parade, Mardi Gras. Newtown is the most hipster suburb in Sydney and is located on the west side of the city. Here you can find many unique designer shops and amazing food. Spray paint art can be found on the walls everywhere here. If you feel a bit homesick or miss some hometown food, Chatswood and Hursville are your best options to visit over the weekend as they are home to many Chinese shops and supermarkets.
Homestay: Usually agencies will ask students if they want to stay with a Chinese or western family, and then they will decide the most suitable one for you. The good thing with living in a Chinese family is that there will not be any language barrier or cultural issues. Hence it will be easier for the students to adapt to the new environment. However, staying with a western family can help the students to develop better communication skills in English and understand the local culture. The amount of students in a host family depends on the size of the house. Most of the household items will be provided by the family, such as bedding, but you may need to bring your own towels and showering products. Generally, the host family will be close to your school or university. Otherwise there should be bus stops or train stations nearby so that you can easily travel around.
University Accommodation: Every university has their own apartments or colleges that are located on campus or close to campus. This accommodation requires application half a year in advance, hence it is highly recommended to apply as early as possible. The applications can be done easily on the university website. They will charge you application fees and some a deposit if the application is accepted. Deposits will be returned after the contract ends. Some really popular colleges may require a small interview in the application stage. Accommodation on campus can vary from a studio to apartments with 2 to 5 bedrooms. Some may have private bathrooms and others may require a few students to share one. Some colleges may also provide meals for breakfast and dinner. In these cases, the college would just provide a single bedroom with a private bathroom but there will not be any shared kitchen or living rooms.
Private Rental: There are usually a lot of private rooms or apartments for renting around the universities, and the advertisements can be found on some Chinese platforms such as Wechat, Today’s Sydney and Tida website. You can also look it up on Gumtree or Facebook. For instance, if you are studying at University of New South Wales, Kensington, Kingsford and Randwick might be some good options for you. As for students going to University of Sydney, Camperdown, Rozelle and Broadway can be a good start. It is vital to consider following aspects before you take a rent, for instance, whether the surround suburbs are say, whether there are convenient public transports and shopping centres around. It is better to check the rooms personally before you sign the contract, and you must note down any broken furniture or equipment before you sign the contract. The contracts must be kept till the end of it.
Since people drive on the left side of the road, new students arriving in Sydney must be extra careful when crossing the road. Think twice whether you should look right or left. The public transport in Sydney include trains, trams, buses and ferries. The easiest way to get tickets for all forms of transports is purchasing an Opal card. Simply just tap on when you board and tap off after you get to the destination. The card itself doesn’t cost any money, and the minimum recharge is $10. There are timetables for all forms of transports, so it’s best to check the time before you travel. A really convenient app is called Tripview, which provides live information about the timetable. If, for example, some buses or trains are running late, the information will be shown on the app. Just a quick reminder, in Sydney, if you are waiting for a bus, make sure you wave to the bus driver when you see him coming. Also make sure you press the bell on the bus before the stop that you are intending to get off. If you don’t do that, the bus may not stop at that bus stop.
Study in Sydney is a completely different experience to study in China. Here you won’t be assigned into a fixed class. The university will provide you with some guidance like a Handbook to help you choose your courses. Some courses are mandatory for the degree and some are not. There are lots of time slots for some courses so you can have a lot of flexibility with arranging your own timetable. Library is highly recommended for you if you are doing some group assignments and looking for a place to work together and it is also a good place to cram before the exam. Furthermore, here textbooks are not provided by the university, so study materials must be found by students themselves. Library can be a good place to find these materials for free as well. If you really want a textbook, you can also look up online for second hand textbooks which will be much more cheaper than brand new ones.
Another way to improve your English skills and soft skills for later career is becoming a volunteer. Some volunteer activities are recognised by the universities, hence they will be shown on your transcript, which could benefit you when you are looking for your first job. After all, in western countries, companies don’t just look at your marks when they are recruiting. To find volunteer opportunities, you can look up on your university career website or follow some large volunteer organisations.
Other than volunteering, internship, casual and part time jobs can also help students to gain essential soft skills, and make resumes look better. You can look up internships or jobs online or on some company’s’ websites, but don’t forget to use your networks because your lecturers or friends might be able to refer you to the company internally, which will increase the chance of you getting the job. For some engineering students, internship is required for the degree. If you have difficulties with finding one overseas, internships with Chinese company are also valid.
All overseas students are covered by Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). It will cover some medical expenses from medical centres and public hospitals (Always check with the provider if some private hospitals are covered). Generally, if you just have a cold or nothing seriously bad, you can always look up some medical centres online and choose a GP and then book an appointment. After the appointment, keep the receipt and use the receipt number to file.
Still feeling a bit overwhelmed about living on your own while you are studying overseas? Don’t worry. At Sonder Australia we can provide 24/7 personal assistance at the touch of a button. Find out more about our services, or get in contact with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by Jenny Jiang. Jenny is a student at the University of New South Wales and a member of the Sonder Australia team.