While living and studying in a new country 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 an adjustment period in many areas of your life, including cultural, social and academic. During this adjustment period, you will be away from your usual support networks (family and friends) and familiar resources. Adjustments to a new country and culture is a process that occurs gradually and takes time. It’s important to remember you are not alone and there are many support services available.
Lectures and tutorials - 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.
Independent learning - 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.
Understand each unit’s assessment - Each of your units will have its own Unit Profile which will outline the assessment items for each unit. 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. Some units may also require a minimum pass mark for a specific assessment task or require you to pass all assessment items to pass the unit overall. It is your responsibility to know these requirements.
Academic integrity - Academic integrity refers to the appropriate use of academic resources including acknowledging the work of others (via referencing). Failure to uphold academic integrity can lead to academic misconduct.
It is important that you are aware of your responsibilities regarding academic conduct, including issues such as plagiarism which is a very serious misconduct with grave consequences. To understand your academic requirements, you are encouraged to review the Assessment of Coursework Procedures which can be found via the Policy Portal.
Time management - 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.
In addition to time spent in class, you are also expected to spend additional time completing your own independent study and working on assessments. 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).
Living in a new country can be a stressful experience. It is not unusual to experience culture shock and homesickness during your first few weeks and months in Australia. You will notice differences in the way people interact and dress, food, teaching styles and how things are done. This may be frustrating at first and it will take time to adjust.
Common signs that you may be experiencing culture shock include:
- Missing family and friends from your home country
- Avoiding people, while also feeling lonely
- Anger and confusion
- Not able to eat or sleep (or overeating or sleeping too much)
- Crying for no reason
- Feeling disorientated
Remember, culture shock is normal. You are not alone! There are plenty of steps you can take to help yourself adjust to life in Australia:
- 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 Listing positive events or changes within yourself that have occurred since you arrived, may also assist with putting things into perspective.
- Maintain some of the routines and rituals you had at home - 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.
- Communicate with friends and family at home- Regular communication with those at home, about your experiences of study and life in Australia, through emails, telephone calls, video chat 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 okay to make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself!
- Ask for help - Don‘t be afraid to ask for assistance or support if you need it. In addition to the university services, there are also external organisations that can help you have a successful and enjoyable time in Australia.