Students who wish to study abroad in an exotic – yet English-speaking – country may gravitate toward studying abroad in Australia. While for American students, Australia may seem like a fairly easy cultural transition, it’s more than an extended vacation destination; it offers a wealth of opportunities for academic and personal enrichment. If you want to make the most of your semester abroad, here are a few things you should know if you want to study abroad in Australia.
1. Australia is very pricey
Many students who travel to Australia for the first time are alarmed by the high prices for basic items. As one of the most expensive countries in the world, Australia’s cost of living is anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent higher than that of the U.S.
You will experience significant grocery store sticker shock if you don’t prepare yourself well in advance. Make sure you research the prices of essential groceries, rent, transportation and mobile phone usage so that you can draw up a functional budget. Allow yourself a bit of flexibility for incidentals, but do your best to keep within your budgetary limitations.
However, there are several things you can do to save money and still be comfortable. Some restaurants allow you to bring your own bottle of wine. Many sushi restaurants in Australia are actually cheaper than those in many parts of the U.S. Rather than purchase fruits and vegetables from expensive chain grocery stores, you can shop at cheaper outdoor farm stands.
2. Australian slang isn’t what you think it is
You probably won’t find an Australian using the term “barbie” for barbecue, or “Sheila” for a woman (unless they’re joking), but there is a network of elaborate Australian slang that may make understanding the locals slightly tricky. For example, you may hear terms like “arvo” for “afternoon,” “devo” for “devastated” and “facey” for “Facebook.” If you remember that most of the slang terms are shortened words with either an “o” or a “y” at the end, you’ll eventually pick it up!
3. Australia will seem very similar to much of the U.S. – except when it isn’t
Australian and American cultures are remarkably alike in a variety of ways. Both have frontier origins and have their own versions of the Wild West (the U.S. has ranchers and cowboys; Australia has stockmen and drovers), both have thriving country music scenes and both have similar attitudes toward drinking alcohol. However, it’s because the two cultures align in so many respects that the differences can seem startling.
Firstly, Australians tend to be a bit more relaxed than Americans. Americans can be impatient with regard to services – we expect to be waited on in stores and restaurants quickly and efficiently – whereas Australians largely expect service to be quite slow. Australia is a bit more politically liberal than the U.S. (Australia has strict gun laws, and has a single-payer health care system.) Lastly, in Australia, sales taxes are included in the sticker price of retail items, so the price at the register is never a surprise!
4. Pack light
Australia places strict limits on luggage at domestic and international airports, so you’ll want to make sure you under-pack. Only bring items that would be either difficult or expensive to purchase once you arrive. (Things like bath towels, shampoo, and most essential personal items aren’t terribly expensive.)
5. Australia has excellent academic resources
Australian universities are world-class, consistently ranking amongst the very best global institutions. If you’re a STEM or art major looking to study abroad in Australia, La Trobe University is an exceptional choice. As one of the highest ranked institutions in the world, it is one of the world’s top 100 colleges for health sciences, sociology, archeology and business, offering students valuable industry connections across scholastic disciplines.
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