- Politics and International Studies
- Preparing for University
- Studying Abroad
A guide to orientation for new students
Semester 1 orientation week begins soon and I have had a few students asking for help with things such as deciding on accommodation, going about arranging their bank card, etc. This post is about the main things you need to know and do when arriving at Monash. Do remember that there may be something that I have missed out so always double check!
Also, I should mention that when I discuss campus, I am referring to the Clayton campus since this is where most exchange students are based (and the campus that I am most familar with).
Collecting your student card
This typically happens on the same day that you enrol. For me, this wasn’t until 4 days after I arrived so don’t stress if you don’t get it straight away! The student card gives you access to your accommodation block, a lot of academic buildings and even student discounts.
Initially, when you first arrive you will get a provisional key which gives you access to your accommodation, which you will return when you get your actual student card.
Creating your email account
Unfortunately I don’t have the actual link for this (it may be a link that is only accessed by new students rather than current ones), however, I suggest contacting the IT department if you haven’t already done this.
If I remember correctly, I had to create mine before applying for the health insurance as it had to be connected to my Monash email. This leads me to my next point:
There are different options here. I personally decided to go for the Monash’s recommendation (Overseas Student Health Cover OSHC) since health insurance is not something that you want to do gamble on. I felt it was best to go with OSHC since they were trusted by the university, giving me the impression that they are reliable.
There are other options though if you want to look at other providers – a quick online search should bring these up.
Don’t be mistaken if you read that British people can get their visa when entering Australia. This only applies to tourists, not those on a STUDENT VISA.
Make sure that you have applied for the correct visa and also received your confirmation! Sometimes you may be asked to visit a health centre in order to have your visa confirmed – you will not get your visa until you do this, so make sure you do ASAP!
The earlier you book the better. There is a choice of different airlines depending on where you are flying from (and whether you want a pre stopover in a certain location to give yourself a mini holiday before going to Melbourne). I know some people who stopped in Singapore to visit for a few days and others who flew to Perth and spent a few days there, before flying to Melbourne.
I personally decided to fly straight to Melbourne since the academic summer is more than enough time to travel in my opinion.
You also have the choice of purchasing a “flexible return ticket” which lets you change your return date when you have a solid idea of when you want to go back. This is the option that I went for since it was cheaper than purchasing two singles, and also gave me the flexibility of changing the date closer to the time (I still haven’t decided when I am going to go back).
Make sure you have informed student finance of your new start date (remember Australia does not follow the same academic years as England) and the fact you will be studying abroad. Do this sooner than later in order to guarantee that you will receive your money on time.
Choosing your units
This applies to before you leave (you have to give Monash a list of the units you are interested in) and when you arrive (to confirm that these are the ones you want to do).
Make sure that the units you are doing are approved by your department – and not just the units, but also the number!
Last semester, all Warwick students had to do 4 units (many exchange students have the chance to do 3 instead) so make sure you confirm this. This may have changed so do discuss this with the academic staff in your department and/or your personal tutor.
Join Monash clubs and societies
You will probably receive a copy of the Monash clubs and societies guide in your first week or so, have a read through and see if there is anything that interests you! Most the clubs and societies will also have a Facebook group that is worth joining.
Arrange your accommodation
If you want campus accommodation you have to arrange this a few months before you leave. Make sure you have paid the deposit and have your place confirmed!
If you decided that you do not want to live on campus (or did not receive a place, unfortunately, places are competitive) then try to have an idea of where you may want to live instead. Monash offers a lot of help in the first few weeks especially to people who do not have their accommodation arranged – so you may decide to find a temporary place while you do your own research. This may be better because it gives you the chance to visit the place before confirming.
^ Temporary places could be hotels, hostels, Airbnb’s or even couch surfing.
You can arrange this pretty easily when you first arrive. Check with the bank what documents they want in order to open it (probably a copy of your passport, visa confirmation and university confirmation letter).
There are two banks on campus: I decided to go with “Commonwealth” because I was able to complete the online process before leaving, although this doesn’t make that much difference (just speeds up the process when there are thousands of students all trying to do it at once on the same day).
The other option is “Westpac”. Both of these options are easily accessible on the campus itself, although you may choose to go with a different bank outside of campus.
On a similar note, make sure you take some cash with you as it may take you a few days to get your bank account sorted (Especially if you arrive on a weekend when the banks close early and are not open on a Sunday). Equally, there is a small chance that there may be some problems with opening it so take some extra cash to in case!
This will also give you the chance to engage in the orientation activities rather than being restricted to potentially spending an entire day at the bank (it gets busy during orientation!)
Linking into this, make sure you inform your British bank that you will be leaving.
On campus, your main choice will be Optus. They typically offer various student contracts which are catered to the duration students tend to be studying abroad for. I’d recommend visiting and talking to the staff about what may be best for you.
Similarly, if you have a sim card in England which you won’t be using in Australia, make sure you inquire about pausing your contract before it automatically renews!
Familiarise yourself with the transport
There are three things you need to know here:
The intercampus shuttle bus is a thing
This is a free shuttle bus that you can get on via the bus interchange. This will take you to the other campuses, saving you the cost (and time) it takes to take the public transport.
Myki is a thing
This is the travel card you need in order to use the public transport in Melbourne. Don’t worry about this before you leave, but make sure you familiarise yourself with it when you arrive. Through your “Myki card” you will be able to use the buses, trams and trains.
You may be eligible for a “concessions card” for students, which gives you a 50% daily discount. You can arrange this when you arrive.
There are other options such as purchasing a daily/weekly/monthly card, but getting your own concessions card will be the best way in my opinion.
This is the “Public Transport Victoria” app which will give you all of the times of the buses, trams and trains so that you know what route you need to take and how long it will take you. It is a free app so definitely get it!
Buying all the essentials
There are a few options for this, the main three being: Pinewood (best for grocery shopping), Brandon Park (best for buying a few essentials when in a hurry as it is close to campus), and Chadstone (best for pretty much anything you may need).
I would suggest either Brandon Park or Chadstone in your first few days as they are likely to have almost anything you are looking for. I personally went to Chadstone on my first day to buy the main essentials and then Brandon Park the next day to buy a few other things.
Most importantly, don’t stress! Enjoy your orientation week, it is a lot of fun! Make sure you also take the time to meet new people as they are the ones who will make your semester a truly awesome one.
As always, feel free to either comment with any questions/email or message me directly – more than happy to help 🙂
Shanita 🙂 xo