While living and studying abroad may be an exciting adventure, it can also present a range of challenges. Having decided to study and live in Australia you will be undertaking adjustments in many areas of your life including cultural, social and academic. It is also important to remember that while these changes are occurring you will be embarking upon a new term of study (for many of you in a different language) and be away from your usual supports, networks and resources. Adjustment to a new country and culture is a process that occurs gradually and takes time.
The values, beliefs, traditions and customs of your home country may vary greatly from those in Australia and adapting to the Australian way of life may take some time. This advice may help:
- Listen, observe and ask questions - Adjustment to a new culture and way of life takes time. Allow yourself time to observe those around you and patterns of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Don‘t be afraid to ask questions if there are things you do not understand as this will reduce the chance of confusion or misunderstandings.
- Become involved - Make an effort to meet people and become involved in groups both on campus and in the wider community. Maintain an attitude of openness to new situations and experiences. Establishing friendships and joining groups is the best way to experience and learn about Australian culture and will certainly mean you have a richer and more enjoyable time here.
- Try to maintain a sense of perspective - When confronted with difficulties remind yourself that living and studying abroad is a challenge and it is normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed and out of your depth at times. Try to recall or make a list of the reasons you initially wanted to study abroad in the first place, Also, listing positive events or changes within yourself that have occurred since you arrived may also assist with getting things in perspective.
- Maintain some of the routines and rituals you may have had in your home country. This can include small things such as continuing to drink a certain type of coffee or tea or eating specific foods. It may also include maintaining involvement in bigger events such as celebrating a national day in your country of origin with a group of friends.
- Keep lines of communication open with those at home. Communicating with those at home regularly about your experiences of study and life in Australia, through emails, telephones and letters, is vital. Not only does it help to keep you connected with important social supports, it also assists your friends and family to understand your experiences which will smooth the transition when you return home.
- Sense of humour. Importantly, remember that living in a different culture means you will inevitably find yourself in a range of unusual and often confusing situations. Being able to laugh in these situations will remind you that it takes time to understand different cultures and that it is ok to make mistakes.
- Ask for help. Don‘t be afraid to ask for assistance or support if you need it. In addition to the University support services, there are many organisations set up on campus to ensure you have a successful and enjoyable time in Australia.
- Finally, relax and enjoy the journey
At CQUniversity, you are responsible for your own learning. Your lecturer or tutor will not contact you to check if you have completed the required readings/activities, undertaken further research or submitted your assessments by the due date. If you don’t ask questions during class, through the Moodle forums or via email, your academic will assume you have no problems.
The following tips will help you adjust to studying in Australia:
- Attend your classes - Although it might sound obvious, it is important to attend all your classes. If you are unable to attend a class, ask a classmate to help you catch up. It is also a good idea to contact your lecturer/tutor to let them know you will be absent and request any materials you may have missed. Attending class also allows you to:
- Stay up-to-date with unit content
- Seek clarification about unit content from lecturers and tutors
- Stay in touch with other students
- Know your assessment requirements - Ensure you are familiar with the unit requirements, understand the weighting of each assessment item and know the due dates at the beginning of the term. Some assessment items may be due within the first few weeks of term (i.e. online quiz, forum participation), so it is important to know the assessment requirement early in the term so you don’t miss due dates.
- Plan your time - For many students, academic challenges are more related to lack of organisation than lack of ability. Learning to organise your workload, cope with competing priorities and ensure you schedule enough time to complete all your tasks is essential for achieving academic success.If you are enrolled in 4 units, the time spent studying (including time in class) should be equivalent to working a full-time job (40 hours per week)
- Understand academic integrity - CQUniversity investigates and deals with incidents of academic misconduct and will apply penalties if applicable. As a student at CQUniversity, you are expected to uphold high standards of academic honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour. Examples of academic misconduct:
- cheating in exams;
- paying for others to write your assignment or exam;
- copying another student’s assignment.