11 Things to do When You Arrive in Australia

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Moving to a new country to live and study can be daunting. Thankfully, Australia is a welcoming place, and it’s easy to sort out all of the important things upon arrival. 

To make it even easier, here are our 11 must-dos once you arrive ‘Down Under’.

Open a Bank Account

The main Australian banks (Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and NAB) all offer account options that are tailored specifically to international students. Establishing an account is an easy process, and can be done online or in a bank branch store.

There are many branch stores for the major banks throughout all Australian cities. Therefore, you won’t need to travel far if you want to set your account in person.

Once your account is set up, transferring money from a foreign account can be easily done with an application such as Transferwise. This will ensure you get a good exchange rate and pay minimal fees.

If you have cash to exchange, there are also currency exchange booths in all major cities. Alternatively, this can be done at all banks and many travel agents. 

Make sure you explore your options to get the best rate!

Get a SIM Card

Communication is key, so you’ll need an operational mobile phone. If you already have a phone, you’ll be able to purchase a SIM card from any mobile phone store, and often newsagents or supermarkets. 

The main providers (Telstra, Vodaphone, Virgin, and Optus) all offer short term contracts or pre-paid plans. There are also other providers out there, so ensure you do shop around for the best deal. 

Do note that free wifi is not as accessible in Australia as it is in other countries, so a SIM plan with plenty of mobile data is a good idea.

Get a Tax File Number (TFN)

In order to be successfully registered to pay tax, you’ll need a Tax File Number (TFN). Your employer can provide you with the paperwork for this once you commence employment.

If you haven’t yet commenced employment, you can apply for a TFN online at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website. It’s available all day every day and is a free service.

To apply, you’ll need your passport, address in Australia, a telephone number and a valid email address.

Find a Job

Australia is a fantastic place for prospective employees and there is a healthy job market in all major cities. The hospitality, finance and construction industries, in particular, are always hiring.

Websites such as Seek, Gumtree and CareerOne are very useful for job hunting. Handing out your CV in person is always appreciated too, particularly in the hospitality industry.

You can also apply to join an employment agency, which can aid you in finding employment in the industry of your choice. This can either be ongoing work or temporary, casual roles. 

Some agencies even specialise in helping international students find work.

Purchase a Transport Card

Photo of an Opal card

Each major Australian city has its own public transport card – in Melbourne it’s the Myki, the Opal card in Sydney and the Translink card in Brisbane. 

You’ll be able to purchase and load money onto these cards at any train station, and some bus and tram stops. 

Many news stores and corner stores (called ‘milk bars’ in Australia) can also top up your travel money balance.

Purchase a Power Adaptor

You’ll likely need power adaptors for your electronics, and these can be purchased in all supermarkets and newsagents, throughout all major cities. 

Due to the high number of international students and travelers, Australia is well equipped for this kind of thing.

To make it even easier, it’s a great idea to bring a power board with multiple sockets from home. Then, you’ll just need the one adaptor while using and charging multiple devices.

Adjust to Your New Time Zone

When you first arrive in Australia, it’s important that you do your best to adjust to the time difference. This may mean staying up when it seems terribly difficult, or trying to sleep when not tired.

If you remain disciplined from the beginning, you’ll thank yourself for it later as you adjust to the time difference faster.

The time difference can obviously make it difficult to speak with loved ones back home. It can be advantageous to establish a time that suits everyone beforehand. 

This way, you can speak or Skype without waking early or staying up late.

Locate Your University Help Centre

Every university has a help center for students, and often a specific area for international students. 

If you have any questions about your study or even need advice on the things we’ve mentioned above, there will always be staff (often students themselves) to help.

Locate a Supermarket

The main supermarket chains in Australia are Woolworths, Coles, and ALDI.

There are numerous stores throughout all major Australian cities – there’s no doubt that there will be one of these supermarkets close by. 

Being a student can often mean being short of money, so the best option of these three is ALDI. However, discount items can be found regularly in Woolworths and Coles, and the fresh produce is often a little better.

Attend Orientation Week

Every university holds an orientation week, or ‘O-Week’ at the beginning of the study semester. O-Week involves many social and academic events and activities, designed to welcome students to the new academic period.

During this time, you’ll also become familiar with the layout of your university campus and meet fellow students and some of your tutors and lecturers. 

Some activities and information sessions are compulsory (depending on your university), but many are simply a fantastic opportunity to meet people!

Explore!

Photo of a group of international students exploring Australia

Once you’ve got all of the above sorted out, it’s time to go and explore your new home.

Australian cities are full of a variety of excellent food, entertainment, natural beauty, and events… there’s always something to do!

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