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5 Things No One Will Tell You About Being an International Student in Melbourne

Standing on the top of Most Livable Cities in the world for 7 consecutive years (dated 2017), Melbourne is definitely a favorite destination for international students from all over the world. Being an international student myself and I have lived in Melbourne for the past 4 years, and I can confidently tell you that my time in Melbourne is absolutely awesome. However, not all that “glitters is gold”, living in Australia’s “cultural and sporting capital” as an international student has a plenty of challenges but they also rewarding and worthwhile.

As I was once an international student, I believe the following things are very helpful to know before joining the Melbourne international student community. Or maybe you are already one of us then join us in this trip down to memory lane.

Extensive and (potentially) expensive public transport system

Among the typical adjustments that individuals do when they move in another country, is to abide to a whole new set of traffic rules and regulations. The switch from right to left-hand traffic like in Australia.

Still, here’s a great news for you. The public transport system in Australia is extensive and reliable that you may not even have to use your own vehicle at all. Varying from train, bus, and tram covering both metropolitan and regional areas, along with clear instructions, I have only experienced occasional problems during my 4 long years riding the Melbourne public transport system in day time or even in the wee hours of the night.

There are also some drawbacks. The public transport does not operate 24/7. You may expect long waiting time and trouble planning your travel. But worst of all is the price. A day of travel (within metropolitan area) can cost you up to A$8.20. It may not be the most expensive among Australian regions but it’s still something to consider especially if you are on a limited budget.

Student card can get you discounts, A LOT of it

Remember to have your student card in your pocket at all time! Not just because it’s a form of identification but also it comes in handy available numerous type of discounts. One of the many perks of being a student in Australia.

As an international student, you can sign up for Victoria Culture Card which gives access to wide range of discounts on activities in Melbourne such as exhibitions, events and cultural attractions.

Want more? If you’re fulltime undergraduate international student in registered universities and institute, you can register for iUSEpass to save money on your public transport under concession.

There are many exciting deals and student discounts waiting for you!

Experiencing four seasons in one day

Ever laugh at your friend who’s carrying umbrella with him even if it’s an unmistakable clear day? Or that girl with an extra coat on a warm day? They are just being prepared and so should you. Melbourne weather is completely unpredictable. It can be sunny now and raining heavily the next. Consider also the sudden drop in temperature! So be prepared! Bring an umbrella or good raincoat at all time. Don’t let the weather catch you by surprise.

Street performances are welcomed in Melbourne

If you’re into music, art or even magic, you’re in the right place. There’re many buskers in Melbourne CBD. From musicians, magicians, illustrators and they are insanely talented. They can brighten up your day. On your spare time, take a trip to the city and watch them perform live. Remember to tip them!

Got hidden talent? You can set up your own stage and showcase your talent! However, you need to get a Busking Permit from the City of Melbourne. In my experience, it’s not complicated.

Looking forward to see you there! Either entertaining the crowd or being entertained.

Multicultural city and local etiquettes

Melbourne is a city of multi-layered cultures and society. It’ll be the perfect opportunity to engage with other international students from the four corners of the world. As for me, I learned so much about my own culture. By knowing the similarities and differences from other cultures, you begin to understand and have deeper sense of respect to each individual’s belief and background.

As you immerse yourself in the Australian culture, you will learn that there are things that are done differently than in your home country. Be mindful of others so as not to offend them by accident. For example, standing on the left side and walk on the right side of the escalator is common knowledge. Standing next to your friend on an escalator might not be a good idea. The tip can I give you is to be observant! Like what they say: When in Melbourne, do as Melbournians do.

Well, that’s sum up my top 5 things that you should know being an international student in Melbourne. I hope you have a great time too.

Martin Nguyen is an international student who enjoys the city vibe of Melbourne and continuous to take pleasure in participating in various multi-cultural events.