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How to deal with living away from family for the first time as an international student

Moving away from home is a massive step that many of us take in order to pursue our ‘dream’ career but my fellow international students and I take that to the next level where we travel abroad to study, leaving behind our families and all that is familiar to us. So for those of you who have done so (good on you for being so brave!), I have some experiences to share with you about adapting to Melbourne.

1. The Melbourne trams
Taking the public transport was not something I ever did back home as everyone would own their own family car so using public transport was something I needed to get used to. Back in 2015 most of the trams didn’t have proper announcing systems so I found myself constantly peering out of the windows and trying to see around people who were really tall (I am a disadvantaged height of 5’2), trying to make sure I didn’t miss my stop. What I found most helpful in these cases is to use the Tramtracker app which would give you information about all the stops on the line and the possible connections all in real time. Google maps was the other reliable alternative. The Journey planner function on the PTV website is very useful when having to take longer trips with trains, it tells you the exact route. Don’t forgot to account extra time for delays especially in hot weather.

2. Being away from family
It’s daunting to be away from family for the first time and I didn’t find settling into Melbourne as scary because I had made friends at o-week, which helped me a lot as I had previously never lived away from home. As an international student, I think it’s extremely important to make friends at university, especially if you live alone and don’t have a roommate. The easiest way to do that is in your tutorials and or by joining some clubs at uni and then attending those social events. You can meet someone who takes your subjects and bond over uni struggles and have someone to tackle the group work with or someone who has similar interests as you so either way you have a friend to turn to in the event of need and in turn they have your support as well. So make sure you take the initiative and go be social! Don’t be shy, remember everyone is in the same situation as you are.

3. The household chores
I am a bit of a clean freak so cleaning was never an issue but for someone who has to do all these things for the first time it can be a bit overwhelming. My suggestion would be to set out certain a day in the week to get all the weekly cleaning done (DONT put this off- at the risk of sounding like a mother, a clean house means less chance of getting sick and having to cram because deadlines are looming!) and laundry (because you never want to run out of clothes)! And stick to it! That way you get into the habit and it becomes easier to do over time. One thing that I hate is grocery shopping, so I found the best way to overcome that is to get the shopping done, on a set day, once a week and pre-cook your meals for the week so you allow yourself plenty of time to study and of course, have fun!

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