How to Survive In Melbourne – Tips for Incoming Students

Week O at Melbourne Univesity-OZIP
The Week O at Melbourne Uni. Doc. UMSU

Galih Ramadhan Wilujatmoko


What do new students have to be aware of at campus?


The  most important place on campus are your student administration office. A lot of students only pay attention to where their lecture theatres, library and food court are, but those are usually easy to find and they will likely be places you visit often anyway. One of the most useful and underestimated places on campus is your Student Administration Office.

Every University will call it something different, but this is the place where you submit your paperwork for just about everything throughout your time in University, from enrolling into subjects, swapping subjects and even applying for extensions. This is also the place where you can ask about the rules and policies of your university.It can be hard understanding all the different rules and policies of your university, especially if it’s in English, the staff here are usually friendly and can help you with almost anything related to University. If you’re ever confused or unsure about anything related to your studies, don’t be embarrassed to ask them. If they can’t help you, they will definitely be able to tell you where you can find answers.



What do new students usually forget to do?


Melbournians like to talk about the weather a lot. This isn’t because we’re boring, it’s because our weather is definitely … strange. Temperatures in Melbourne can range from 2°C at night and 40°C in the afternoon, and that’s just in one week. No matter what season you arrive in, always bring clothes for all types of weather.


Many students also don’t think about identification. In Indonesia all people should have a KTP. In Melbourne, there are two common types of identification used. The first is a Driver’s Licence/Learner’s Permit and the second is a Keypass. A Learner’s permit can be obtained from VicRoads with a test, and a Keypass can be obtained from any Police Station. These cards can be used to prove that you are over 18, and to prove your identity.


The last thing that many students don’t prepare for, is a Tax File Number. If you intend to work while in Australia, you will need to obtain a TFN. Without a TFN, the government will withhold 45% of your income. You can organise a Tax File Number once you have an Australian bank account through the Australian Tax Office.


Who can help meet the needs of new students in a campus environment?


Apart from your Student Administration Office, Student Unions, and International Student Association are a wonderful resource for students. These groups often can give you advice and information onthings such as housing and accommodation, advocacy in case you don’t agree with a decision your university or teachers make, and your general welfare and mental health while you’re away from home.

Week O at Melbourne University-OZIP
Week O at Melbourne University. Doc. UMSU


What has to be done if there is an important study problem at the start of semester?


If anything happens that may affect your studies, such as illness, sudden changes to your living conditions, or issues back at home in Indonesia, you must let your Student Administration Office know. They will be able to let you know what your options are, and how it may affect your studies and visa. Even if you think it is a “personal” matter or if you feel you should be able to get over it, let your Student Administration Office know anyway. If anything out of your control can affect your studies, you may be eligible for special consideration (please mention “special consideration” in English too) in your assessments.


What does it mean to say, “To become a student here you must be independent”?


There are two ways that you have to be independent. Firstly, you are likely to be living on your own. Even if you are living with family, you will likely be expected to be an adult and no longer a ABG (anak baru gede).


Secondly, you also have to be independent in your studies. It doesn’t just mean studying by yourself, but it also means you have to take responsibility for your own academic progress. You won’t have a teacher or parent checking on you or asking if you are behind. This doesn’t mean that you must never fall behind. It happens to everyone at some point during their studies. When you do fall behind, or find difficulties with your assessments, it is your responsibility to go look for help.


Part of being a successful student is knowing when simply “studying harder” isn’t enough. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help your teachers and the university staff won’t judge you for not knowing something, after all if you already knew it, you wouldn’t need to be at university.



What can and cannot be done by new students?


The first thing that most people get caught with is the food that they can bring to Australia. Australia has very strict customs laws to protect our environment from foreign pests. All foods, even snacks from the plane and most organic materials such as wood and plant materials must be declared at the customs check. If you do not give them accurate information, you may get into trouble.


The second is public transport concession tickets students in Melbourne are eligible for reduced price tickets from trains, trams and busses. But in order to be eligible for these “concession” tickets, you must have a concession card issued by the train station, or public transport authority. Your University issued student card does not entitle you to a public transport concession ticket.



Please explain briefly the (university) class atmosphere at campuses in Melbourne.


Campus life in Melbourne is really diverse and friendly. Students from all over the world come to study at Melbourne. In your first few weeks everyone is trying to make new friends, so don’t be afraid to start a conversation. Don’t be embarrassed if your English isn’t very good, students from other countries will be able to empathise, and local students are patient and friendly.



What do new students need to consider at their boarding houses/apartments?


Australia has very strong laws to protect tenants. You should always confirm how long your tenancy will last and what happens when the contract is over. If it is not mentioned in writing what happens when your tenancy runs out it usually becomes a month-to-month contract, so be sure to read your contract and ask questions.


The first thing you should do when you first move in to your new home is take pictures of any damage, and note anything broken in your new home. If at the end of your tenancy your landlord or agent withholds your bond over existing damage, you can use your pictures as evidence to contest it. You should also find out how to get around in your new neighbourhood. Melbourne has a very good and organised public transport system. The Journey Planner function on the Public Transport Victoria website is very useful for international students as well as locals.


Later on in your studies you might look into moving houses. You can save a lot of money by simply moving a few suburbs further from campus. On campus housing and Student Accommodation may be good while you’re still getting to know Melbourne, but it is very expensive. By moving 20 minutes further away from campus by train, you could save half of your rent. And if you’re worries that 20 minutes might be too long to travel, just think about how long commuting takes back home.


Wellcome to Melbourne everyone!

Galih Ramadhan Wilujatmoko-OZIP
Galih Ramadhan Wilujatmoko (foto: by Djaka Dwiandi)