Tips for students studying abroad
I’ve been studying abroad in Australia for about a year now. If you’re planning to spend 2023 studying overseas, let me tell you, your first hurdle will be homesickness. The first few months here were extremely rough for me. I was in a foreign land with no friends and family members to turn to.
Not being able to wake up to home-cooked meals was something that made me feel isolated in my early weeks in Melbourne. Video-calling my parents was all I could do to numb the feeling of being away. When I saw my friends in Singapore hanging out on IG, I couldn’t help but feel alone and secluded. I even felt like I was being a nuisance by asking them to update me on what was going on with their lives.
It took a while but eventually, I learnt how to deal with my loneliness. Here are a few things I did that helped me survive studying overseas.
Joining school events
After a couple of weeks in Melbourne, I quickly realised that I needed to find people here to hang out with so that I could feel less alone. Living in a university residence sounded like the perfect scenario to mingle with others.
However, I felt ‘small’ and irrelevant as I was a minority in Australia. I found it hard to speak to the local students and find common interests. Nonetheless, I pushed myself to attend more social events held by the university. It was at a ‘Beer and Pizza’ event where I found a group of Malaysian Chiropractic students who were new to Australia as well. The Malaysians were very inclusive and took me into their ‘kampung’ to hang out with them. With them, I could drop my fake accent and be myself again.
Having a close group of friends gave me a sense of belonging and I felt less lonely. Do not be afraid to dabble in social clubs or activities; I found that the people around me were a lot more welcoming than I previously thought. Be energetic and fun around them, and they will do the same. Finding a group of friends that created a safe space for me was key to settling down in Melbourne. For me, I found my ‘haven’ in my group of Malaysian friends.
Learning to cook
The suburb I’m living in is not an ‘Asian’ suburb. Hence, there are very few Asian food options available to me. This made it hard to ease into living in Melbourne. I often had to turn to your typical burgers and fries for a meal which is very heavy, compared to Singapore’s chicken rice.
You’ll probably want to have some basic cooking skills because while meals are definitely not cheap, produce is! I typically go for a grocery run once a week and prepare meals for myself to save money.
Boosting my finances
The Singapore dollar might be strong on the global scale but harsh taxes and minimum wage in certain countries will drive up the cost of goods sold. Being able to cook is very useful as a student here. However if you want to go out and explore Australia more, I highly suggest finding a part-time job to fund that.
Australia has a minimum wage model that scales with your age; you can earn a decent allowance from this to fund your recreational activities. I worked two jobs in Melbourne: a receptionist at a chiropractic clinic as well as a service staff at a burger joint.
I got paid an average of A$29/hr. These jobs helped fund my nights out, road trips around Regional Melbourne, as well as my dates.
Your guide to studying abroad
The most important tip is to enjoy yourself. You are living in a different country; it will not be familiar at all. But go out and explore it. Fall in love with it. You’re spending a good number of years there; the memories and friends you will make are those that you will keep for a lifetime.
What was your experience like studying overseas? Tell us that story below!