Set up your life in Newcastle

As a fellow international student, I know how difficult it can be sorting out your life admin in Australia. So, let’s get you prepared for your life ahead in the ‘land down under’!

University of Newcastle’s International Engagement Manager, Lauren Miles, suggests three simple tasks to help facilitate your transition to living in Newcastle:

  1. Activate your UON account to access valuable services and receive important information via your student email. A pre-arrival email will be sent approximately six weeks prior to your arrival.
  2. Tech-savvy internationals can download the myUON app to get on-the-go access to UON account services.
  3. Connect over the net to your international community in Newcastle. Your fellow compatriots can offer great advice from a familiar perspective. Find them under the ‘Cultural’ tab of the University’s ‘Find a club’ page.

With those three tasks complete, let’s delve into three administrative necessities: accommodation, banking and telecommunication.

Accommodation

There are three options you can choose from: live on-campus, live off-campus or homestay with a local Australian family.

Living on-campus is a highly sought-after option for most first years, as it offers the opportunity to make friends from all over the world, including Australia, in a comfortable and safe environment.

Many tastes are catered for, such as a quieter living environment, female-only floors and more. General environments are best suited for those keen on the more common college life.

However, demand is usually high! Learn more about student accommodation and apply at the University’s ‘Student Living’ page.

Living off-campus presents a different set of challenges, as you would usually have to be present in person to inspect the property and be granted a lease from a local landlord. Lauren recommends you get at least two weeks’ temporary accommodation in Newcastle while finding your perfect Australian home to settle in.

For more information and to search for availabilities, head to the Uni’s ‘Off campus accommodation’ page. You will need to have access to your student account to login and apply.

Another way to find the most suitable off-campus home would be to join an international society’s Facebook page before arriving in Australia, and to ask if any members have rooms available.

Homestays offer another unique opportunity to really get to experience how local Australians live. It’s also a great chance to make friends and get used to the local language and slang. Similarly, a good way to find out more information is through past international students’ experiences. Find out more on UON’s Homestay page.

Banking

Lauren recommends setting up a bank account before stepping on Australian soil. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Bank allow international students to register in advance so you’ll have an account when you arrive. All you need is an ID and you can open an account!

Having a bit of cash goes a long way too, so get some currency exchanged before you arrive, or at the airport. However, Lauren warns against carrying excess amounts of money, for both security and convenience reasons.

Lauren recommends Flywire or Western Union to facilitate international monetary transactions. She advises students to talk to the fees department in the event there is a hold up on transfers.

Telecommunication

The trick here is to ask a fellow international from your country how they communicate with their homeland. They should know which telecommunication company works best for your shared country of origin.

Most services offer similar levels of connectivity, with few perks in between, however Lauren recommends getting a contract with Telstra, if you foresee yourself entering rural territory often, as they often have better coverage.

Look before you leap

The key to settling down well in Newcastle is to think ahead and sort things out beforehand. This allows you to focus on gaining a grounding necessary to thrive in Australia, which will be explained in more detail in another article to come. So, keep a look out!

So, make sure to knuckle down, complete those necessary forms, and the journey will be a far smoother experience!