Living in Australia

Before you move to Australia for your studies, it is important to know few things and prepare in advance so that you have at least some hassle free settlement. One thing everybody knows is Australia is different than Nepal, however there are few things which will come as a cultural shock no matter how much you prepare.

Australia is different

Since Australia is an English speaking country, it does not have to be the same like other English speaking countries. Each country has its own local flavour, television, music and so does Australia. Australia has a different history than other English speaking nations like USA and UK. It was colonised by Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and gained independence in the twentieth century. Most early settlers came from England, Scotland and Ireland, with later waves of Europeans, Middle Easterners and Asians. Contemporary Australia is a mix of all of these cultures, but with a dominant Anglo-Irish culture.

An informal society

Australian society is generally very informal, compared to many Asian cultures as well as other Western ones. It’s common to call everyone by their first names, including people who you may consider your ‘superiors’ (such as your boss or your professors). Not doing so may be mistaken for awkwardness or discomfort with Australian habits. Take your cues from what Australian students do.

Similarly, dress codes tend to be quite casual, unless you are told otherwise. You’d only be expected to dress up smart for events like job interviews, graduation ceremonies or weddings. The rest of the time, clean smart casual clothing is generally acceptable in all social and work life.

In the classroom

Australian students are generally not shy in the classroom. They are quick to share their opinions on a topic, even if they aren’t confident that they are ‘correct’. Being outspoken and assertive is considered a positive quality in Australia, as is politely questioning authority.

Public etiquette

Being on time is very important, and being late for class or work is considered not just rude, but reason for dismissal or poor grades. If you’re waiting in line at a shop, bank, doctor’s surgery etc., you must wait for your turn. People who jump the queue will be told off. Also, spitting in public is not acceptable and Australians don’t do it—it could even get you in trouble with the authorities. Australian public spaces tend to be very tidy, and everyone plays their part in keeping them this way.

Love of the outdoors

Australia generally has a warm and sunny climate, and is blessed with beautiful nature—beaches, bush, and city parks. Australian cities are designed to make the most of this. In the summer, you may find outdoor concerts, markets and festivals in the cities. Australians like to cycle, swim and jog in public, so why not join in?

Food

There is no single Australian cuisine, but rather a delicious mixture of the best of international cultures. Although in rural areas you may find that people prefer a ‘traditional’ Anglo-Irish diet of meat and vegetables, in the cities you will be spoilt for choice. The large numbers of Greek, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Lebanese migrants over the years means that these cuisines are well represented. As well as international restaurants, in most cities you will also find international grocery stores, meaning that you can find special ingredients from back home to cook for yourself.

Language

English is the official language spoken in Australian and you will have no problem communicating or conducting business when moving to Australia if you speak English. The population consists mostly of Caucasian (92%) and Asian (7%) with Aboriginal and other cultures accounting for just 1%.

Climate

Australia is so large that it actually experiences an extremely varied climate; different parts of the country experience different weather patterns. Northern Australia is tropical, with hot and humid weather and seasonal monsoons. In contrast, Southern Australia experiences a temperate climate with distinct seasons. Summers are long and hot while winters are cool and occasionally wet. Western Australia is hot and dry in the summer and cool in the winter with temperatures often falling as low as 7 or 8°C. Rainfall is low throughout the country which is why there is often danger of bushfires. Because of the diversity in climates, there will be a weather pattern to suit virtually everyone; another reason why Australia is so popular. However, because the climate does differ so much, it is crucial that you research any city that you are considering relocating to carefully in order to ensure that you find a climate that suits you.

Cost of living in Australia

The cost of living in Australia will be relatively high when compared with their home country and this has continued to rise at a breakneck pace. The 2012 Mercer Cost of Living Australian cities continue to rank high on the list in the Asia Pacific region and, following the strengthening of the Australian dollar, have all experienced further jumps up the global list since last year. Sydney and Melbourne experienced relatively moderate jumps of three and six places respectively, but Perth and Canberra both jumped 11 places. Brisbane rose by seven places, and Adelaide shot up 19 places.

In addition to facing high living costs in Australian cities, expatriates may also find that they are paid less and face higher tax bills here. In terms of purchasing power parity, Australia provides its residents with a similar level as that available in Japan and a higher purchase parity than the United Kingdom and Singapore. For full details of all the costs you can expect when living in Sydney please see our guide to living in Sydney. It contains full sample costing details for all goods and services and compliments this with useful insights into how much you can expect to pay to achieve the standard of living you're looking for.

Australia is a friendly and affordable country which enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. As a general guide, the average international student in Australia spends about AUD $ 1,550 per month (approximately AUD$390 per week) on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, transport, international and domestic travel, telephone, and incidental costs. In addition to this amount, you will need to budget for your return trip home and international phone calls. International students are permitted to work up to 40 hours a fortnight during each session, however, there is significant competition for part-time work. You should not expect that money earned from a part-time job will cover your tuition fees or living expenses.

Job and career opportunities

Even in today’s economic crisis, unemployment is low. There are plenty of jobs of all levels available to those who want them. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain work permits and residency if you are moving to Australia from overseas. Immigration policies have become a lot tighter over the last decade and most people looking to move and work need to be able to offer a skill in order to gain a work permit.

If you have yet to secure work it is useful to consult with a career adviser. Australian based advisors will be in a position to advise you of your job prospects in the region and whether or not your own skills and experiences will be in demand in this country.

It is advisable that, if you do choose to conduct your job search in Australia itself, that you ensure that you have sufficient funds to survive at least six months without a paid income. Once in Australia you should visit Centerlink, a government approved job search network: http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/individuals/work_index.htm.

For full details of the necessary visa requirements and application procedures for moving to Australia for your studies, you also need to make sure you know how to find jobs online and do some research about networking which will make your life much easier in Australia.

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