Banking in Australia

If you’re moving to Australia there are many things to organise and one of the most important is a bank account.

While cash is great for smaller purchases, you’ll need an account for your wage to go into as well as to pay for your accommodation, bills and everyday expenses.

Australia is fast-becoming more reliant on EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale)/ card purchases with ATM usage reaching record lows in December 2016, so a debit card is a must not just as an essential, but for convenience!

So if you’re planning on studying in Australia, here is your international student guide on bank accounts:


It’s recommended you open your account before you arrive and most banks allow you to do this, at the earliest, around three months before arrival. You can do it when you arrive in Australia but it should be done within your first six weeks. If you wait longer, you will need to provide more identification.


If you open your account before you arrive, you can do it online.  Most banks have easy to follow application forms on their websites. You will need your passport details along with your Australian arrival details.

Once you have applied online, you will be contacted by the bank to inform you of the success of your application. With most banks, you will have limited access to the account until you enter the country.

To receive your debit card and officially open the account, you will need to visit a branch with your ID when you arrive in Australia and then you can start using your account to its full potential.


Each bank varies with costs and fees for accounts but as long as you provide proof that you are a student (Student ID card and proof of enrolment) many banks will waive the monthly account keeping fee. Keep in mind that the fee is only waived while you are studying full-time, you will begin to pay the monthly fee once you finish studying if you stay on in Australia to work.

Fees to look out for:

ATM fees: If you use your own bank’s ATMs, you will not pay a fee however if you use any other teller the charge can range from $2 to $4. If you can’t find an ATM and really need cash out, visit a supermarket, you can usually get up to $100 cash out and you don’t have to pay a fee.

Overdraft/ dishonour fees: Many banks will charge you if you overdraw your account / when a payment isn’t cleared due to lack of funds or your account goes below $0.

Paper statement fees: Make sure you opt for email statements, save your dollars and the trees!


Australia has ‘the big four banks’, most of which offer services specifically to help international students with their new account and waive account keeping fees for full-time students. These are:

Commonwealth – You can open a Student Smart Access up to three months before arriving in Australia.
ANZ – the ANZ Access Advantage account has no account keeping fees for students and can be opened before you arrive in Australia.
Westpac – The Westpac Choice account offers $0 monthly fees for students.
NAB – NAB Classic Banking isn’t a specific student account, but it has no monthly account keeping fees, ever.

While the big four are popular – there are many banks throughout the country which you could also consider.

There are also world banks such as HSBC and Citibank which offer a range of account options including Foreign Currency Accounts. If you’re already with these banks they can assist you in setting up your account before you leave for Australia.

HSBC has an International Banking Centre with staff dedicated to helping you open an account before you leave and if you visit your local Citibank they can assist with opening an Australian account.

There are also online banks (no shopfronts) which offer better interest rates for savings accounts such as ING Direct and Me Bank.

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ACU Successful nursing graduate Angela Le

Angela 060 2

After three years of study, Xiaoxi Le (Angela) has completed her ACU Bachelor of Nursing degree and has secured a job at a Sydney Hospital.

With 800 hours of clinical placements behind her, she says the placements helped her gain skills and confidence and played a key role in helping her find a job.

Her placements were at three health facilities in Sydney over her three year degree including a nursing home and public and private hospitals.

In her final year, Angela spent  10 weeks at Mater Hospital – three weeks in first semester and then two stints in semester two – four weeks followed by another three weeks.

“I applied for the flexible program and I was lucky to be selected and I was able to select a combination of am/pm and overnight shifts based on my own calendar.”

Angela worked in the oncology and gynecology wards as these were her selected subjects.

She says the facilitators on her placements were very thorough and had high expectations – as should be expected!

“The first time I had to do a handover, my notes were not comprehensive enough so my facilitator gave me a second chance and gave me some advice and suggestions to improve,” Angela says.

“I practiced with the body of nurses and they helped by looking at my handover and giving me advice on how to re-write it. They were happy to assist me and were very supportive.”

“My facilitators prepared me to be a competent and qualified nurse. They would chat with us on the ward every day and you could ask them any questions which they were happy to answer and helped us build confidence.

“Many of the nurses at Mater are ACU graduates and they are understanding and excellent nurses. They are encouraging and helped me to prepare for the next step in my career.”

She says their dedication and professionalism was inspiring.

“The nurses were excellent role models for me to follow and I know what kind of nurse I want to be.”

Angela says her placements helped her build up her clinical judgement skills.

“Thanks to all of my practical experience on clinical placements I feel more confident to communicate with a multi-disciplinary team of different health-carers such as dietitians, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.”

Angela 052 2

She says she enjoyed the Bachelor of Nursing course at ACU and the first year taught her the fundamental knowledge a nurse needs while she honed her research skills in the second year.

“One of the parts of the course I really liked was that during class there are many chances to work as a team and be aware of each other’s strengths and abilities. This is transferrable to the real life situations as nurses work as a team so this helped me to be comfortable in a team.”

Angela says she always felt supported as an international student at ACU.

“ACU’s academic advisers are very supportive with assessments and when you’re struggling you can turn to them and they are happy to help and check over your work. As an international student I’ve felt very supported.”

And Angela’s advice for students on placement? Sleep well!

“It is important to sleep well while on placement so you’re alert! Be on time and take it easy. Ask as many questions as you can – nothing is a silly question.

“Be yourself and don’t take small errors too personally and be reflective.”

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Networking and new possibilities for Nepali youth

The Nepali Youth Forum held on level 18 of Tenison Woods House.

The Nepali Youth Forum was held on level 18 of Tenison Woods House.

The first ever Nepali Youth Leadership Forum was held in Sydney in March and organiser Pramej ‘Pjay’ Shrestha says it beat his expectations.

“Looking back at the event I am astonished how everything all managed to run smoothly even though at times it looked like things weren’t going according to plan. All in all, the event ran more successfully than I expected,” Pjay said.

Pjay, who holds the title of Mr Nepal Oceania 2016 and is a business development executive at Employment Hero, said the event had speakers discussing “ideas for personal development”.

Pjay speaks to event attendees.

Pjay speaks to event attendees.

Hosted at ACU North Sydney campus, there were many speakers from a range of professions, including Bijay Pokharel – Global NRNA Youth Co-ordinator and founder of Youth for Change, Junita Lama – winner of Pagent of the World 2016 and a nursing professional, Pra Shrestha – Pro Fitness Model and six times International Body Building Gold Medalist and Harrison Uffidell who is Country Manager at and listed in the 2016 Forbes 30 under 30 for the Finance and Venture Capital category.

The event was a collaboration between the ACU International Office, Career Development Service and the Nepali Youth Leadership Forum.

“As our Nepalese community grows in Australia, it is critical our youth of tomorrow has the essential leadership skills to be effective leaders both in the Australian and Nepalese society,” Pjay said.

Pjay wants to setup a global youth mentoring program and start his own business by the time he is 30 and the Youth Forum is one step towards that.

Nepali Youth Forum 2017

Nepali Youth Forum 2017

“Saturday was an exciting moment for many. As participants entered Level 18 (Peter Cosgrove Center) people started noticing this wasn’t going to be any ordinary program they went to before.

“They were graciously greeted by the ACU and UNAE team as they entered the venue and got introduced to some of the speakers who were there early.

“The event kicked off at 10 am with the charismatic Mr. Chris Riley, ACU International Executive Director,” Pjay said.

“Anushka Shrestha who was the Emcee for the day beautifully introduced the line of accomplished speakers in their own fields.”

“The day was filled with laughter, curiosity, networking and a surprise visit by the Honorary Consulate General of Nepal – Deepak Khadka. I believe the event was very successful and it really opened new possibilities for the participants who attended the program.”

Pjay says organising this event taught him how important these programs are for many ambitious and talented international students.

Nepali Youth Forum 2017

Nepali Youth Forum 2017

“Many international students come to Australia with big dreams; unfortunately many lose their dreams and get lost. I believe the program was a real breakthrough in supporting such students to strive for the stars and become international leaders serving the common good. I hope to continue this work.”

Pjay says the one thing many participants said to him was that they would like to attend more programs like the Nepali Youth Forum.

“I think each participant got something so different, some made new friends, some learnt the power of taking risk, networking and following your dreams and some learnt they really need to start building their social profiles when they get home.”

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Representing Sydney to help international students

What better way to get to know your new city than to learn all you can about it and represent it?

Australian Catholic University student Seavmeng (Meng) Hun was one of 32 candidates selected from 119 applicants to be an International Student Leadership and Ambassador for the City of Sydney.

The candidates for the International Student Leadership and Ambassador (ISLA) 2016-18 Program include students from 15 education institutions and 14 countries.

the 2016-18 ISLA group

The 2016-18 ISLA group

The students were selected for their previous leadership and volunteer experience in their educational institutions in the community and their country of origin.

Meng, who is also the vice president of the ACU International Students Club, studied his Bachelor’s degree in Cambodia and was determined to get as involved in the Australian culture as possible when he began his Master of Commerce/Master of Business Administration in 2016.

“When I did my Bachelor’s degree in Cambodia, I focused on my studies completely and it was good but it could have been better. When I came to Sydney I decided that this study experience would be different and I would get more involved,” Meng says.

“I promised myself that I would say yes to opportunities and get involved in the community as much as I couldthrough volunteering and programs that were available.”

Meng was excited to be selected for the ISLA program and said he initially thought he had missed out until the deadline was extended.

“I applied and after an interview and a screening process I was selected.”

Between December 2016 and February 2017, Meng and the other students attended an extensive training program to help them better understand the roles of the City of Sydney and a range of international student related services and receive information from relevant government and non-government organisations.

The 2016-2018 ISLA for the City of Sydney Photo: City of Sydney Twitter

The 2016-2018 ISLA for the City of Sydney Photo: City of Sydney Twitter

They also received training on leadership skills, communication and cultural intelligence to enhance their capacity as effective international student ambassadors.

“We got a lot of training and built on soft skills such as team work, strategy planning and event management.

“I believe that by participating in the ISLA program, I can also hone my skills for future employment.

“It’s been a challenge in a good way and a great experience – I’ve enjoyed being busy and learning to manage my time,” Meng says.

“I’m learning transferrable skills that I can also bring back to the ISC and help the members with organising events.”

While building his skill-set through ISLA has been great, it’s the people Meng has met that have made his ISLA experience such a great one so far.

meng and friends

The people Meng (far right) has met has been a highlight of the ISLA program.

“What I’ve enjoyed most is meeting new people and learning about new cultures. It’s such a diverse group and there is so much to learn from everyone.”

During the 18-month program from December 2016 to June 2018, Meng and his fellow student ambassadors will be involved in planning and implementing events and projects to help international students meet new friends, get to know more about Sydney and build the leadership skills of youth leaders in the community.

The ISLA 2016-18 Program Ambassador Official Induction Ceremony was held on March 15 where Meng and his fellow ambassadors were welcomed to their new roles.

Meng receives his ISLA City of Sydney pin.

Meng receives his ISLA City of Sydney pin.

The ambassadors will assist the City in promoting and running a number of key events, such as the Lord Mayor’s International Student Welcome Reception on April 4, 2017, the International Education Sector Forum, and the City’s information booth and workshops at orientation events.

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Keeping your mental health in check at university

quote2Good mental health is vital to succeeding at university and one of the most important things to realise is that it is OKAY to ask for assistance!

Your university is an excellent place to start – support services are always available for students . Like many places, ACU offers free and confidential counselling if you are experiencing personal, study or work-related issues.

All ACU counsellors are experienced and trained in mental health, emotional well-being and enhancing mental performance.

We spoke with ACU’s counselling services to learn more about what students can gain from reaching out…

What sort of assistance can counsellors give to international students?

Assistance can be provided in a number of ways. We offer many approaches to improving your life, building your skills and improving your ability to deal with the many different challenges that you may face.  Particularly for international students – assistance can be provided in dealing with issues of transition to a new culture and managing ‘culture shock’.

Throughout the year you can attend a variety of Counselling workshops and events on campus to help you manage your well-being and make the most out of your studies. Specifically there are campus based workshops and ‘national’ workshops which are conducted online. The counselling service has a LEO presence (more below) and can be found on here.

What benefit is there for an international student to visit counselling services?

A session with a counsellor will help to put matters into perspective.  Generally you get stuck because you repeat the same behaviours and/or you are not aware of options.  A session with a counsellor will assist you to find what options you have and commence the process of turning around your situation.

counselling image1

What sort of unexpected issues do international students face?

On top the usual difficulties associated with being a student there are additional issues of being in a different culture and being physically removed from friends, family and the usual people who you mixed with.  The unexpected shocks can range from not being able to find your usual breakfast cereal to the unexpectedly high cost of books. It is often the little things that have big impact.

When would you recommend an international student consider visiting a counsellor?

As you know, it is always best to see a counsellor sooner rather than later. While easy to say, we know that this does not always happen.  If the problem persists for more than a week, get some assistance on the eighth day.

Workshops, events and assistance on LEO:

There are a range of workshops offered, from mastering maths anxiety, mastering exam anxiety, mindfulness, being focused, managing stress and more.
There are Mental Health First Aid Courses for all students as well as specific courses for nursing and law students.

These vary from campus to campus and students can visit the LEO site to register.
There are sections on mental well-being, seeing a counsellor, personal matters, study support and for those needing urgent help. Information is available for students who need assistance and they can also book appointments with counsellors through the site.

Appointments can help reduce student distress and get you back on track. ACU students have access to a number of free counselling sessions per year. Each session is 50 minutes of face-to-face counselling for the opportunity to discuss any issues of concern within a supportive, professional relationship. There are also 30 minute drop-in consultation sessions on campus each week.

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10 cultural do’s and don’ts in Australia

Every country is different when it comes to what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. 

What is deemed offensive or inoffensive in Australia may be very different to other parts of the world!

Here are 10 etiquette guidelines that will keep you in the clear:


Let’s start with a good one – tipping ISN’T necessary in Australia. With a fair minimum wage, it’s not something that Aussie workers rely on. You won’t get terrible service or frowned upon if you don’t leave a tip. People do tend to tip at a fancy restaurant where you feel that the service is exceptional, but again it isn’t compulsory!


When you first meet someone you can shake their hand but it isn’t necessary if it’s a really informal situation. Just make good eye contact and say hi or hello – it’s quite simple!

Be informal!

We’re not very formal here, (mostly) everyone goes by their first names, and it is usually shortened! You will find many university lecturers will request you call them by their first name.

the great ocean road

To the left, to the left…

Go to the left

In Australia we drive on the left-hand side of the road. That also means we walk to the left when on the streets, stairs and stand to the left on escalators – make sure you don’t stand on the right because you’ll block the way of those in a hurry!

Don’t be a tosser

While our streets aren’t perfect, we do not take kindly to those who litter. It’s actually illegal in Australia and you can be fined – we take it that seriously. In many states you can report people if you see them tossing rubbish out their car window. For example in NSW, you can report them online and they could be fined $250 while in Victoria these fines can be up to $622. NEVER flick a cigarette butt out a car window – you don’t want to start a bushfire!

So always put your rubbish in the bin. If you can’t find a bin, hold onto it until you do.


Let other passengers off first!

Public transport

If you’re jumping on a bus, train or tram you’ll need to wait for the passengers to get off before you get on. Buses have courtesy seats at the front reserved for the elderly, pregnant and disabled so if the bus is near empty you can sit there but if anyone in need gets on, you should give up your seat for them… so take your eyes off your phone or book every now and then!

NEVER jump the queue

We just do not accept queue jumpers in Australia. We take our queues very seriously. Whether it be to jump on a bus, buy a drink at a bar or lining up for ice cream… you simply do not push in. If you’re not sure where the end of the line is, simply ask someone in the queue and they’ll tell you. If it’s not a ‘line’ queue and you’re all standing out the front of a sandwich shop, be mindful of who was there before you and if you get approached first, point out the person who was there before you. It’s good manners!


No one wants to see your chewed up burger!


Eating / Dining

– This one almost goes without saying, but if you’re eating – do it with your mouth shut and don’t talk with your mouth full! If you absolutely HAVE to speak, cover your mouth so no one has to see what is rolling around in there.

– When you’ve finished your meal, put your knife and fork next to each other in the centre of your place – this is an indicator that you’re finished and your plate will be cleared if you’re at a restaurant.

Don't let your germs spread!

Don’t let your germs spread!

Preventing the spread of germs

Don’t cough and sneeze on or near other people – if you feel a cough or sneeze coming on do it into a tissue or your elbow – not your hand. If you cough into your hand then hold onto the railing of public transport, the germs will spread like wildfire! Don’t spit in public either.

Space bubbles

Aussies aren’t used to being squished in like sardines… while our trains and buses do fill up, we still try not to be on top of each other. Try to stand at LEAST 30cm away from people if you can. If there are several empty seats at the movies or in an eating area, don’t sit right next to someone.. they’ll get uncomfortable. This goes for car parks too… if it’s near empty, don’t go and park next to someones lonesome car!

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Should I study EAP or IELTS?

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for a course there are a number of options you can take to get there!

Two of these are English for Academic Purposes which can give you direct entry into your degree and the other is an IELTS preparation course to get your IELTS in line with the requirement!

But which path is the one that will suit you? 

We spoke with ACU’s English Language Centre‘s Assistant Academic Manager Svetlana Lukovic to help determine which option is best for which kind of student!

The IELTS is scored on a 9 band scale.

There is more than one way to improve your English!

What are the advantages of EAP?

EAP focuses on developing English language proficiency and approaches to academic study in order to help students successfully complete university level courses. At the same time, it allows students to become familiar with campus life and the resources and services available.

The assessment tasks in the EAP course are similar to those undertaken in university courses at ACU.

Some of the skills to develop include listening and reading comprehension; critical thinking and note-taking skills; academic speaking and writing skills, including referencing skills; further knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary.


What are the advantages of an IELTS preparation course?

IELTS preparation courses equip students with the skills they need to sit the academic module of IELTS test with increased confidence.

These courses develop their general English language proficiency, but also test taking strategies, and students can practise test taking skills and the increase their confidence to write about and discuss a wide range of topics.

The course is designed to balance all the needs of the test taker in a dynamic, professional classroom environment.

It is skills-based, and organised around specific weekly objectives that cover the four skills tested: listening, speaking reading and writing. At ACU, students can take a free IELTS Test when you enrol for 10 weeks in IELTS Preparation course.

Why should I do EAP instead of IELTS?

  • You will experience academic studies and learn academic skills in highly structured and scaffolded EAP programs and friendly environment.
  • You have continuous assessment and you can play to your strengths
  • Gain entry into ACU degree and diploma programs
  • Study on campus and take part in university social activities
  • Small class sizes mean you will get the extra attention you need
  • High student success rate.IELTS academic writing

Why should I do IELTS instead of EAP?

If you are more exam oriented, and want to measure your level of English using an internationally recognized test, IELTS preparation course would suit you better. You are free to sit for the test or not. If you want to study at ACU, you might need to know that some faculties and courses do not accept Direct Entry EAP programs.

  • Learn key skills and strategies to maximise your IELTS result
  • Improve your proficiency in all four macro skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing
  • Expand your academic vocabulary and increase your grammatical accuracy


 The IELTS requirement for the course I want to do is more than 1.5 points (or more) higher than my score, should I do IELTS or EAP?

ACU’s Direct Entry Courses / programs are 10 or 20 weeks long and students should be 0.5 or 1 point respectively below the overall band they need for their potential course.

IELTS courses are offered for 5 and 10 weeks, and it is generally accepted that a candidate on average needs at least 10 weeks to move 0.5 on the band. Thus, if your score is lower, that is more than 1.5 points on the band, the suggestion would be to do some General English courses to improve overall fluency and accuracy, then do some pretesting to see what level you have achieved and then continue with the course you believe will suit you best: either Direct Entry EAP program courses or IELTS preparation courses.

Do you have any more questions? Put them in the comments below!

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Staying connected with an Australian phone


An Australian phone number is one of the first things you'll need when you get here!

An Australian phone number is one of the first things you’ll need when you get here!

One of the first things you will want to get sorted when you get to Australia is a mobile (cell) phone so you can keep in contact with family and friends back home and organise life in Australia!

But do you buy a new phone? Which company should you go for? Is pre-paid or a plan a better option?

These are just some of the questions you will need to think about when connecting to an Australian phone network.

One of the great things about the phone plans in Australia is that many have deals for international calls, so calling home doesn’t have to break the bank!

Here are some things to consider when joining an Australian phone network…

Should I go pre-paid or get a plan?


If you go pre-paid, which means you pay-as-you-go, there is no chance you will be shocked by a bill if you go over your data or phone limit.

There are a few different options with pre-paid.

Prepaid phones are quite affordable these days! Photo: Harvey Norman

Prepaid phones are quite affordable these days! Photo: Harvey Norman

– You can use your own phone and buy a sim card but you’ll need to ensure your phone isn’t locked to the carrier in your home country
– buy a new phone outright and a new sim
– or buy a new pre-paid phone with a network – these phones are usually locked to the network you’re buying from.

How it works: You buy credit and it lasts for a certain amount of time – for example 30 days – and then expires and you lose the remaining credit if you don’t use it or it rolls over if that is how the carrier works.. You can still receive calls and messages if you run out of credit, but you cannot make them until you recharge.

The pre-paid deals are pretty generous in Australia so it’s a good way to stick to a budget and you aren’t locked into a contract either!


If you are going to be in Australia for more than two years you might decide to go with a plan. It’s a good way to avoid a large up-front cost if you decide you want a fancy new phone and you’ll never run out of credit.

Photo: Samsung

Photo: Samsung

You will get messages from your provider when you’re getting close to using up all your calls or data so you can keep on top of it but you will have to pay more if you go over your limit.

You are locked into a contract when you go on a plan, which means you sign a legal agreement to use the provider’s service for an amount of time – usually 24 months.

Each month your bill will be broken into a number of sections – usually it’s the handset repayment, call/message costs that are ‘capped’ – for example you might be on a $50 plan that allows you to use up to $600 worth of national calls every month and perhaps 120 minutes of international calls.

If you decide to exit the contract early you could be charged an early exit fee, you will have to pay out the handset at the non-discounted rate and any other costs that are listed in your contract.

Most importantly… Read the fine print!

Which network should I go for?

There are three networks in Australia – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. There are many other service providers and they all work off one of these networks – they are usually smaller companies and their services can cost less as their overheads aren’t as  high, they’re called mobile virtual network operators (MNVOs).

Telstra is the largest mobile network and has the fastest 4G speeds with the most coverage so you will have reception in the cities and beyond – which also means it can be the most expensive.

Service providers with great deals are popping up all the time, Supermarkets Aldi, Coles and Woolworths even have their own services! They use the big networks – as you can see there are 36 options using – so many to choose from!

Australia's phone network providers. Photo:

Australia’s phone network providers. Photo:

Everyone will have an opinion on which network is the best value for money, best coverage and customer service. If you have friends in Australia, ask them which provider they use and see what their experience has been.

Narrow it down to two or three providers and visit their websites to see which deal is best for you.

Tech stuff

Australia’s digital network is compatible with GSM 900 and 1800 handsets. Australian mobile networks operate on GSM and 3G/4G technology.

The CDMA network was scrapped in Australia so if you have a CDMA-only phone you’ll need to buy a new one once you arrive in Australia.

If you’re buying a sim, chances are it will be a micro sim so if you have an older mobile and you’re not upgrading, you’ll need to ask for the bigger sim card.

Where to buy

You can buy sim cards or phones at supermarkets, newsagents, post offices, department stores such as Big W or Target or from the service provider’s stores which are in shopping centres and around every corner in city CBDs! You will need to provide your licence or proof of ID when purchasing a new phone.

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Homestay: what it’s really like

When it comes to moving to Australia, there are many options! one of them is Homestay.

Homestay offers international students the opportunity to live in a local home while studying in Australia. By living with an Australian family, you will improve your English and get a better understanding of Australian life.

Whether you want to do this long-term or short-term – it’s up to you!

ACU International spoke with Bachelor of Nursing student Angela who chose Homestay as long-term accommodation and has loved every minute of it!

Who I live with:

I live with an Australian family with a dad, mum, two children and a dog. They live in a large house with a big backyard and a swimming pool. The father, Andrew, is from Hong Kong and is the head of the household. He is out at work during the day and flies overseas for business trips quite often. The mother, Melinda, was born in Australia and has a Chinese background. She is works full-time and looks after the house and the children. Their daughter Adeline is studying at university and son Ryan studies at a local high school. My homestay family are very welcoming and love to meet people with different ideas from all over the world. It is always interesting to share our similarities and differences in food, culture and our way of living.


Angela has learnt a lot about Australian culture with her Homestay family.

What does it mean to be a “member of the family”?

I feel very welcome with my own private room on the second floor of their house and accepted as a member of their family. On my arrival, my host family helped me to settle in by carrying my luggage to my room and made sure that I was comfortable and served me a delicious meal. They often involve me in their family activities such as watching movies and going to the beach. On Christmas night, they prefer to celebrate the special holiday with Christmas themed movies. Last Christmas, we enjoyed drinks and snacks while watching the comedy film Home Alone and a fantasy movie Miracle on 34th Street.

During Halloween, they decorated their house and invited me to watch a scary classic Halloween movie for that night. They also organise outdoor activities -last spring, they invited me to Balmoral beach which is an ideal spot for a picnic. We had fish and chips for lunch and lay down in the grass, either chatting together or having a nap. Following that, we walked through some gardens and reserves along the beach. At the end of the day, Melinda drove us back home.


Angela has always felt welcomed by her Homestay family.

When I feel upset and stressed about my difficulties in life, Melinda always takes time to talk to me and generally makes me feel “at home”. I remember one day when I was weeping due to homesickness in my room, their daughter Adeline asked how I felt and gave me a cup of warm lemon & peppermint tea and a pack of tissues. When Adeline and I are cramming for exams or working hard on an assignment, Melinda always prepare snacks including cupcakes, chocolates, bananas, crackers or nuts on the kitchen table for us to help ourselves. My host family not only care about me, but also respect me.

One of the cakes made by my Homestay mother

One of the cakes made by my Homestay mother

Due to my part-time shift work at a hospital, I am not able to have meals at a particular time with their family. Therefore, I prefer to cook for myself and Melinda is very understanding and supportive of this. When I have one or two days off from work over the weekend, she sometimes invites me to join their meal time and shares with me her tips on baking cakes and cooking.

My bedroom

My bedroom! This is my space. There’s a desk, TV, chair, bed, wardrobe and bookshelf in my bedroom. I asked Melinda first when I wanted to put a wall calendar at the back of the door. She recommended a method2017-01-08 16.14.01 that would not damage the walls. I think it is very important to treat my hosts as I would treat my own parents – with respect. They see themselves as my equal even though I pay them money, and naturally they are the “boss” in their own house. It is my responsibility to keep my room clean and tidy. I am free to watch TV and use my computer in my room, but I need to be aware of keeping the volume down and turning these appliances off before I go to sleep.


Developing friendship in Homestay

Their daughter Adeline is very interested in Taekwondo which is traditional Korean martial arts. I googled the meaning of the word and found it can be broken up into 3 syllables. “Tae” means “foot or leg”; “Kwon” means “fist or fight”; “Do” means “the way or discipline”. Adeline is very happy to teach me some basic Taekwondo. She emphasized that they are very helpful for defending yourself and keeping your opponent away.

Manga drawn by Adeline

Manga drawn by Adeline

She also showed me how to block a high round house kick. In order to protect my hands (since I have lots of hands-on tasks due to my nursing job), she gave me a pair of boxing gloves to put on for protection. Adeline has another hobby of drawing manga. She ran a how-to-draw Manga tutorial with me during the summer holidays and supplied me with some books about tips on drawing manga. I followed her steps to achieve drawing a basic manga girl’s face.

My Homestay family has a pet dog. His name is Elvis and he is an important member of the household. Elvis is very gentle and obedient. He has his own bed in the house and his own wooden house in the backyard. Melinda takes Elvis to the dog groomers for a wash and haircut regularly. Playing with Elvis is fun! Ryan showed me how to teach Elvis to fetch. I used a dog toy and got Elvis’s attention with the toy. While it was still in my hand, Elvis’s eyes track it as I moved it around, and then threw the toy. I then called Elvis back to me with the toy.

Angela and Elvis, the family dog.

Angela and Elvis, the family dog.

My reflection

I love my homestay experience! Homestay is an opportunity to make new and lasting friendships. Homestay life is also a journey in self-discovery: as you live in close contact with a family, observing their different way of life, my understanding of myself becomes clearer and deeper.

If you are interested in Homestay, click here for information on long-term, here for information on short-term or visit the website!


Posted by embiscoe

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对于出来乍到澳洲的留学生,university orientation是筒子们进入国外大学的第一课。很多学生党或许心里纳闷,什么是 orientation!



迎新日Orientation, 是大学里正式开学前的迎新周,指的是新生注册和欢迎活动,表明了Orientation week的内容: 教你如何更好地利用学校资源和更好地发挥自己的潜能,简而言之就是新生入学指南。

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①    学校电子系统:国外大学都会给每一个学生专属的邮箱,你将会被要求开通这个邮箱,并学会怎样好好运用这个邮箱。


②    各种表格的填写:住址,学号,医疗保险……你的信息需要根据入学指南中的步骤依次递交。别小看了这些表格,每一张表格都是校方为了更好地服务学生而建立的信息档案,重要性可想而知。

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③    学习指南:每个学校都有一些不同的学术及文化氛围,怎样快速适应国外大学的教学方法?怎样有效地和专业老师沟通?怎样进行论文写作?怎样和其他国家的同学一起完成小组作业?这些都能在每个专业楼的大厅找到。

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④    生活指南:无论衣食住行,身居国外的你都将开始一段全新的体验。也许你会感到陌生,不适应。没关系!国外大学的学生会以及国际学生办公室都会帮你解决这些问题,你需要了解学生会或者学生办公室什么时候安排这样的讲座,然后准时参加那个讲座既可。之后你就可以知道如何找到适合你的宿舍及入住方式,如何找到超市,如何乘坐公车等。

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⑤    活动指南:校园活动当然是必不可少的内容,每年学校会组织什么有趣而又有特色的活动,你能怎样参与其中。多留心在校园里发放的各种小宣传单,也可以在学生会的公告中看到,或者国外大学的官网页会有相关信息。

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Posted by Xiaoxi

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