Whether you’ve organised a semester abroad in Australia or you’re just thinking about it at this stage, there are a few mistakes you should avoid whilst abroad:
1. Not travelling enough
Although money may be tight and school breaks may be short, try your best to allow time before or after your semester to explore the rest of the country (not to mention New Zealand, Bali and many other amazing destinations outside Australia). You can easily check off some of the major cities fairly cheaply and over a 2 or 3 day weekend. During the mid semester break, when you have at least 7 days, try and make a trip somewhere further away like The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru or Tasmania!
2. Not budgeting
Australia is expensive. Groceries, rent and transport are some items that can really drain your wallet. Especially if you’re coming from the US, Australia’s cost of living can be a lot more expensive than at home. Budgeting is a must if you plan on saving some of your money for travel at the end of the semester.
3. Forgetting to pack winter clothes
Yes. Australia is hot as hell in summer. But no, it is not one giant desert as some people picture it. It can get pretty cold here in winter, especially down south. But the problem (particularly in Queensland) is that our houses are built for hotter weather. We don’t have ducted heating and intense insulation for below freezing temperatures, so it can be really cold inside during winter. So along with your swimsuits, shorts and all that summer gear, don’t forget to pack a warm jacket, beanie and Ugg boots!
4. Sticking to your fellow abroad buddies
A great way to make friends on exchange is to live with fellow international students, because you’ve all come to a new country and school with no friends. But in order to really get a grasp of Australian culture, meeting locals is a must! It can be a little difficult when most major Australian universities are commuter universities rather than a live on campus type of college. Besides group work and particular lines of study that are very close-knit, the bulk of local students go to class and go straight home (or skip a lot of classes and hardly come to campus at all!). Probably some of the best ways to meet more locals is to go to the uni bars or join a social sport team. These settings can be a lot more social and relaxed than a classroom.
5. Studying too hard
Yep. Don’t study too hard on your semester abroad, but don’t fail either. Because grading systems are different, it’s most likely you will have a pass/fail arrangement anyway. Exchange is an amazing opportunity to hit two birds with one stone – you are travelling and having a once in a lifetime experience while still knocking over one more semester. So do your assignments, but don’t forget to prioritise socialising and getting to meet people from a completely different cultures. Even if it’s out of your comfort zone. Because after all, the friends you make and experiences you have are going to be the best memories of your time in Australia. Not the A+ essay you wrote.