Settling in as an international student

Leanne L. is a first year student in Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology and Linguistics. She also hopes to get the hang of technology in this lifetime.

The end of semester is nearing, and most students should be settled in by now. However, it is understandable that it may take a little longer for us international students. So if you’re not fully settled yet, have no fear! This post will hopefully help you make sense of your confused feelings, plus give a few tips to help you ease into studying in Melbourne.

Being an international student myself, one thing I found the most difficult to comprehend was my feelings and thoughts. Studying abroad can be very overwhelming; you are completely submerged in a different culture, in addition to the stress of studies.

At first, I was excited at the thought of coming to Melbourne to study. The idea of having a ‘fresh page’ to start with was very appealing. It made me determined to do the best I can while in Melbourne.

I found myself on a plane to Melbourne in February 2014. During the first few months, most of my energy was focused on trying to settle in and studying, so I did not have a chance to sit back and think about how I felt.

Semester break rolled around, and all those repressed feelings hit me like a truck. I was alone in Melbourne, my family and friends were at least 6000km away. The thought was terrifying. However, there were a few things in Melbourne that made me feel at home again:

Having a support system

This is very important for everyone, not just international students. It gives us a sense of belonging, and no matter what we may be going through, we know that there will always be people who will have our backs. For international students, we do not have family with us as our ‘default’ support system. Hence, having a close-knit friend group will make your days in Melbourne go by much more smoothly.

Studies

While this seems like a redundant tip, it really helps. It keeps your mind off depressing thoughts, and you’ll do well for your assignments! A win-win situation.

Clubs and Activities

There are many things on campus that help students feel as welcomed as possible. One example is the many clubs that the university offers, including region specific clubs, which can give you a sense of home away from home. Other clubs provide opportunities to make friends from many different cultural backgrounds, and you may end up with some lifelong friendships. There’s also UMSU International who run many activities for international students.

While these are very helpful 99.9% of the time, it is to be expected that homesickness does not really go away permanently. I would like to share one thought that has kept me going: we are very, very blessed to be studying in Melbourne. We are able to experience 4 seasons (sometimes in a day), drink heavenly coffee, while learning in one of the world’s most livable cities.

– Leanne

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