What’s it like to move to Melbourne? OzTREKK student shares his tips and tricks (Part 2)

International students have a lot to do in order to prepare for study in Australia: getting a student visa, booking a flight, transferring money, finding accommodation, registering for classes, mentally preparing… the list goes on! Luckily, we are here for you every step of the way. From application to arrival, OzTREKK will be there.

Former OzTREKK students are there for you, too.

Remember OzTREKK student, Eric Leckie? We recently ran a blog (OzTREKK student gives us the inside scoop about the Melbourne physiotherapy program) about his journey as an international student. His detailed story outlining the tips and tricks of the Melbourne physiotherapy program got a ton of hits on Facebook, and now he’s back to give us the skinny on moving to Melbourne!

Take it away, Eric!

I love living in a big city such as Melbourne. There is always something to do on the weekends to keep you busy when you have some down time from uni. For example, there certainly isn’t a shortage of restaurants to go try out. Whether you’re looking for Italian, Thai, Indian, Korean, Greek… Melbourne has it all and the best part is, if you decide to live in the city, all these restaurants are all walking distance away. Another great aspect about Melbourne is that it’s extremely culturally diverse. I find the general culture and attitude of Australia to be very similar to that of Canada. Everyone is very nice and accepting here, which makes you feel like you’re at home.

Aside from Melbourne itself, I really enjoy exploring different parts of Australia. This past Easter break I went to Byron Bay (personal favourite) and Surfers Paradise with a friend of mine and it was absolutely amazing. Australia has so much to offer and domestic flights are really cheap so there’s really no excuse to not get out and explore as much as you can!

What's it like to move to Melbourne? OzTREKK student shares his tips (Part 2)
Weekend trip to the Grampians National park with friends

Accommodation options

I’ve talked to a lot of my international friends that are in the program with me and we all agree that finding housing is definitely the most stressful part about preparing to study here in Australia. To be honest, there’s not much OzTREKK can do to help us with this part of the process, apart from pointing us in the right direction and offering suggestions.

For myself and many others, we had to find accommodation ourselves, which was a little sketchy because I almost got caught in an online scam when I was searching for places to live while still in Canada. I found that there are a lot of people out there preying on international students looking to find accommodation here in Australia. In my case, this landlord tried to get me to pay first and last months’ rent up front before I even moved here to Australia, just so he could “hold” the apartment for me. This landlord ended up not even owning this property and it was, in fact, a scam. So just be very cautious when looking for apartments and places to live online before actually moving here.

I am currently living in the Student Village here on the University of Melbourne campus. Like most of you, I ended up in a stressful situation where I had to secure accommodation fast before moving here. I am currently paying $308 a week for a single bedroom inside a 4-person share room. On top of that, WiFi is in extra $40–$80 a month, depending on how much you’re going to use. I’m pretty sure $40 gets you around 30,000 MB which isn’t much at all. Laundry is $3 for washing and $5 for drying, I believe.

This is strictly my personal opinion, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone studying a post-grad degree to live here. If you’re into partying, then the Student Village is definitely the place for you, as the majority of residents are all studying undergraduate degrees.

What's it like to move to Melbourne? OzTREKK student shares his tips (Part 2)
Cliff jumping at Mt. Martha pillars with my good friend Justin

If I were to do it over again knowing what I know now, I would log onto flatmatefinders.com.au and search for share houses that way, from Canada. The way the website works is that you create a profile and you are able to view different living accommodations in the area that you choose. You can set up Skype video calls with the landlords and residents to make sure you’re going to be a good fit. A lot of my friends ended up going this route when they got here and it’s worked out well for all of them. For the most part, the places you’ll find on Flatmate Finders are apartments or houses that have extra rooms available for rent, living with other students for a lot cheaper than what I’m currently paying. OzTREKK has a ton of accommodation suggestions on their Boarding Pass website—use it!

Getting your finances in order

I think the biggest thing to do before you move over here is to establish a really good support team back home. As you’re probably already aware or coming to find out through research, it costs a lot of money to live over here. Everything is much more expensive than it is in Canada and the United States, such as groceries, eating at restaurants, going to bars, public transportation, gym memberships, etc.

OzTREKK does pre-departure webinars and in-person seminars before you guys leave to fly over here and they will tell you to have at least $1000 in cash on hand when you arrive. Please take them seriously; they aren’t kidding. You’re going to need cash for living expenses until you’re able to set up an Australian bank account and transfer all your money over. I’m currently with Commonwealth bank and I was actually able to set up my bank account from back home in Canada before I came over, which made it really easy once I arrived here in Australia.

Make sure you have all your loans set up and ready to go, and make sure you plan out how you’re going to access that money. I’m with Scotiabank back home, so I have all my loans funneled into my Scotia account because here in Australia there’s a bank called Westpac that allows Scotiabank members to make withdrawals free of charge at any of their ATMs in the city.

The point I’m trying to get across is to make sure you have everything set up and ready to go before you arrive. If you’re a Canadian and haven’t looked into student loans yet, I highly suggest it! The more money you have at hand the better because you truly can’t predict how much you’re going to be spending once you get here and it’s better to have it available just in case.

What's it like to move to Melbourne? OzTREKK student shares his tips (Part 2)
The balconies at Grampians National Park

Join OzTREKK student groups

Furthermore, take full advantage of the student groups set up by OzTREKK for all the internationals enrolled in the same program. I say this because everyone will be arriving here in Melbourne well before classes start in order to get settled in. It gets really lonely after about the first day you arrive here when the adrenaline wears off and jet lag sets in and you realize that you don’t actually have friends here in Australia. So use the Facebook group and get everyone together for drinks or out for dinner as soon as possible before you get too homesick. For me personally, that student group really helped me out a lot. I was able to make quite a few new friends with the other international students within the first couple days of moving here. Everyone is in the same boat, so reach out right away when you get here and start enjoying Australia!

Best decision I’ve ever made

Moving here to Australia was the first time I’ve ever left home. I did my undergrad at the university in my home city, so moving here was a big change for me. With that being said, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity to move halfway around the world to study a program that I’m very passionate about. The independence is amazing and the opportunities are endless!

So in conclusion, yes, I’d highly recommend studying here in Australia! If any of you have any further questions about my personal experiences here or if you have any further questions about the school and curriculum itself, please feel free to contact OzTREKK and they will give you my e-mail and we can set up a Skype or FaceTime call. I’m happy to help!

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