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Things I wish I knew in my 1st week in Newcastle

Hey there, fellow Novocastrian! Being an international student myself, I can understand how daunting it might be at first to move to a new location and settle in. I would like to share some of my experiences and things I did in my first week to be prepared for life ahead. 

First thing to consider is making a to-do list for things you need straight away when you arrive. Bedding, groceries and toiletries should be the number one priority. Also, get an Australian SIM card, open a bank account in a local bank and get an OPAL card if you’re considering using public transport. 

Going to another country can be challenging, especially if you’re travelling alone. Make sure to check the dates for when to attend Orientation. It will give you the opportunity to interact with your fellow classmates and make new friends. Lookout for clubs that suit your interest, it can help you find familiarity in an unfamiliar environment and socialise with people that you have something in common with. And don’t miss out on the free goodies at Orientation, like stationery!

Having a positive and easy-going outlook towards the city will help you settle in better as well. If you learn to embrace the city and its culture it’ll embrace you right back. Use the resources for international students provided by the university if you have any doubts about how to get acclimatised to the city and the university.  

When I first arrived in Newcastle, I began familiarising myself with the key locations on-campus like the Auchmuty Library, UNSA building and the Student Services Building. These key locations then served as landmarks for me to get around the campus and helped me be within proximity of people who could help me out when I needed it. However, it might just be useful to use the Campus Maps tool to get around the university. 

The Auchmuty Library at Callaghan campus

It’s also useful to browse through the Canvas website, participate in discussion boards for your courses and access your course recordings through Panopto. It is understandable if you need to take time to settle into the semester academically, given everything you are already going through. It took me around two to three weeks! It can help to be in regular contact with your peers and tutors and attend PASS sessions if they’re available to you. It’ll help you manage your studies and the workload. 

Remember to not stress out too much. It is very natural to feel homesick and overwhelmed occasionally. Cultivating habits like picking up a sport, joining clubs that matched my interests and meditating helped me through that period. Prioritise your physical, mental and emotional health over everything else. 

Transitioning to a new university as an international student can be challenging, but with the right mindset and preparation it can also be an exciting and rewarding journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and guidance and remember to take care of yourself as you navigate this new environment.

Good luck!

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