'Participate, engage in university life'

What is normal at home isnt necessarily normal in your host country

There are so many services available to help students and all too often they are unaware that the services were there to begin with!

International students face some overwhelming challenges when arriving in a new and foreign country, but there are several things which can help to make the transition smooth.

Be aware of the cultural differences that exist; what is normal at home isn’t necessarily normal in your host country. In Australia, we don’t stare at people, we try to speak quietly in public spaces, we look people in the eyes when talking to them. Try to research cultural norms before you arrive.

Be aware of services available. Research before you arrive as to what kinds of help you might have access to. This extends to understanding the public transport system (this may affect where you want to live).

The police in Australia are extremely helpful. It is a good idea to be aware of the local police station phone number as well as the emergency services number (includes police, fire, ambulance).

While travelling or using public transport, be completely aware of your surroundings and your belongings.

There are several legal aid services available in the community that may be able to give you legal advice at little to no cost. On arrival find out where these services are.

At Deakin University, we offer a counselling service to all students and staff at no cost. The service can provide help with coping with homesickness, isolation, stress, depression and other personal issues. These services are confidential and the information you share cannot be passed onto any other party.

We have wonderful staff available to students who may need assistance with their academic lives. The language and learning advisors can help students in the adjustment to a different way of writing assignments and advice on how to manage time and study load in order to achieve the best marks possible.

At Deakin, each campus has an international student adviser. There is also a peer support program for newly arrived international students. It is run by students for students!

Most important thing to remember is to not be afraid to ask questions.

(The writer is International Student Adviser,  Deakin University, Geelong
Waterfront Campus, Australia.)

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