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What’s the everyday life of an international student in Australia like?

I’m thinking about going back to Australia to study again though this time I’ll be on my own. The previous time I stayed at a relative’s for free so I had no rent or utilities to pay for. For that reason I didn’t even work. Just studied. This time I’ll be on my own and I’ll have to rent a place plus find a job and I was wondering what the reality of being an international student in Australia is like. The school that I’m looking at costs approximately 18,000-20,000 for a two year patisserie course. If you could tell me your experiences,I would really appreciate it.


  • catofallseasonscatofallseasons Manila
    Not my experience, but one of my closest friends is taking up his MBA in Sydney. He lives alone in an expensive neighbourhood so his mom still helps him with her weekly rent. He also works part-time (20hrs/week) and he got the job before leaving the Philippines. His company just gave him a raise when he moved there but he still struggles financially.

    My stepdad says finding a place that's 200AUD/week would help.
  • atheleneathelene Sydney
    edited December 2018
    Where you plan to take up your studies could very well affect your student life, mainly because of the living costs. Sydney is very expensive city (a close friend who's lived in Adelaide said life is super chill there and it's not as expensive as Melbourne or Sydney), so having a job is really important if you're funding your own studies.

    The daily life of an international student can vary, but I would think it wouldn't be much different to that of a domestic student. I've meet both international and domestic students, and most of them have part-time jobs (it still boggles me how well they manage their time while sometimes holding 2-3 PT jobs). I still feel like I'm terrible with time management so I opted to spend my first semester here studying full-time (meaning I didn't work at all). Now I'm in the process of looking for a part-time job, but I haven't found one that's close enough to where I live.

    Rent will definitely take a big chunk of your living costs. Your own bedroom in a 4- or 5-bedroom flat in Sydney near CBD might cost you AUD 300/week. If you can find a room that's about AUD 220-250, you'd be very lucky! I highly recommend that when you're looking for a flat/room, make sure it's within walking distance to a supermarket (Woolworths, Aldi, Coles, IGA) or Asian grocery, because you will be visiting one every week--unless you have a huge freezer where you can store plenty of raw meat). Rents are paid every two weeks (fortnightly), could be by cash or bank transfer (depends on your landlord or agent). Also, there's typically a bond required, which can be between 3-4 weeks' worth of rent, and you can get this back when you leave the flat.

    Food/groceries takes the next big chunk, so if you can't cook, now is the time to learn! Eating out / takeaways can easily drain your allowance; "cheap" meals can be between AUD 10-15 (which I feel is still expensive hahaha). I think you can still eat well without having to resort to the food for "poor students," a.k.a. instant noodles. Get yourself a shopping bag with wheels so you don't have to suffer walking home with tons of groceries; or try ordering the heavy/bulky grocery items (canned goods) online and have them delivered to your place, and shop in-store for perishable goods (meat, veggies).

    Because I live just across uni, I don't spend as much money on transport costs; roughly AUD 30 per month if I don't go out often for sightseeing. In Sydney, we use an Opal card, which is a reloadable transport card, and you can use that to ride the bus, train, and ferries (haven't tried the light rail, but I think it works there too). If you opt to live farther from where you're studying in order to spend less on rent/housing, your transportation costs will possibly be higher (and isipin mo rin yung pagod sa pagbibiyahe), so consider which one are you more willing to spend for.

    Because of the expensive food and services here, I realized that many people carry around water bottles. Really, even if it's just a small one. A can of soda or a small bottle of juice can cost you AUD 4.50, whereas you can get drinking water from water fountains/dispenser around the city for free. And yes, bringing your own lunch to school/work is pretty much the norm here, so learn to do meal prep (cooking food enough for several meals).

    I can get very lazy, so on those days that I feel energetic enough to cook, I prepare at least two different dishes so I don't need to cook so often every week (like 1-2 times per week). I bought plenty of microwaveable lunchboxes (yung parang Lock-n-Lock, so it's properly sealed and won't spill), and would I would just portion off the food into small containers. That way, I can simply grab one container out and take them with me to uni (most unis will have pantries in the building with microwave ovens--look for them!) if I have whole-day classes.


    Living in a foreign country by yourself is definitely a big risk, but also a big adventure! Sure, there will often be financial struggles (I sometimes overspend on food/groceries and end up somewhat broke on certain weeks), but it's the experience of having to rely only on yourself that teaches you how to be truly independent. =)
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