Hey guys! So you have been accepted to one of the universities in Melbourne, Australia? Are you preparing for your arrival in Melbourne? Here is the checklist of what you need to do before and after you arrive in Melbourne that I wish someone had told me before I arrived in Melbourne two years ago. I still remember when I came to Melbourne with my younger sister, both of us were equally lost and disoriented during our first few days here. Hope this checklist helps you in adapting smoothly to Melbourne life!
1. Before You Arrive:
a. Arrange your visa and OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover Insurance) as mentioned in your CoE (Confirmation of Enrolment) sent by your university.
b. Buy your ticket to Melbourne.
I actually recommend Garuda Indonesia (no endorsement though) because they provide 40kgs for students and once you are a PPIA (Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia Australia) member you get 20% discount for ticket, but you need to show them your student visa.
c. Looking for accommodations?
Look early, early, early! I can’t stress this enough. Location is important. Do you want an apartment or a shared house or a residential college affiliated with a university? Do you want a quiet neighborhood or the more vibrant Melbourne CBD? Rent in the CBD is definitely more expensive than in the suburbs since it is close to shopping centres. Browse your university’s site for accommodation options! Ideally, you have booked an accommodation 3-6 months before arrival because it is hard to get a place once students have arrived. Ask around for accommodation too, there are many houses owned by Indonesians. Try also sites such as koskosan.com.au, flatmates.com.au or sha.com.au among others.
d. Contact your friends in Melbourne to show you around. Friends will make your adaptation process so much smoother.
e. Make sure you know the location of your address and the nearest bank branch and Myki (the transportation card used in Melbourne trams, trains, buses) selling point near your address. Take these notes from home or you most probably will have to rely on free wifi at some spots in your first few days in Melbourne.
f. Be prepared to bring an umbrella everyday because the city is famous for its moody weather and people jokingly said that there are four seasons in a day because it can rain for 5 minutes, stops for 10 minutes, then rains again.
g. Bring clothes accordingly.
Remember that Melbourne does indeed have four seasons: June-August is winter and December-February is summer.
2. Once You Arrive in Melbourne
a. First, after arriving in your chosen accommodation, purchase your Myki card at the nearest 7/11 (Seven Eleven) stores or Myki machines at the tram station/train station/bus driver.
What is Myki? Myki is a card that can be used for trains, trams and buses. You can order Myki if you are eligible for concession (means you pay cheaper) though your university’s portal. Currently, international undergraduate students are eligible for concession (except those who receive Australia Award). Check here or in your university’s page.
b. Second, open your bank accounts (banks in Australia) and make sure you opt to be able to access it online. Choose debit card or bank book (debit is definitely more useful, in my case I can pay things in supermarkets by tapping it to a machine; the system is called PayPass – but check with your bank) and if necessary order credit card from your bank. There are several banks in Australia but I will recommend Commonwealth Bank or NAB because they have branches in Indonesia.
c. Order OSHC card to be delivered to your address and report to your university that you have arrived (depends on your university and course as well as the instructions for you specifically, of course).
d. Third, SIM Card for phone. This is important for us, right?
There are several major providers such as Vodafone, Optus, Telstra, Virgin Mobile, and smaller ones such as LycaMobile at Melbourne Central or other stores or at your campus centre, Melbourne CBD or even at the Melbourne Tullamarine airport. I use Optus but most Indonesians that I know use Vodafone because a friend told me that they receive a free credit per month to call their parents in Indonesia. No endorsement here. You’d better compare each one’s plan to decide, I think. You can use this site to compare.
Plan or no Plan? Pre-paid or Post-paid?
Most of us will probably know about pre-paid or post-paid. Plan means that there is a restricted time for us to be attached to a certain provider (usually minimum 2 years) and usually comes with a new device.
e. About Food. When I first arrived in Australia, I was shocked of the prices! It’s $10 minimum-$20 for a meal! But, there are some more affordable options.
Surprise: Sushi for sale – several dollars for 3 sushis, after 3pm at Momo Sushi near Melbourne University (660 Swanston Street, Carlton, Melbourne).
Some recommended restaurants for students are:
– Don Don (198 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne CBD) or Don Tojo (164 Cardigan Street, Carlton, Melbourne).
– Mr Kitchen (313-315 Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD).
– For more recommendations, check here.
Of course it is cheaper to cook. You can shop for groceries at Woolsworth or Coles supermarkets. Aldi supermarket is of course much cheaper because they have their own brands.
f. Shopping for pans, pots, lamps, electronics, etc.? Try BigW stores or Kmart or even IKEA or Target.
g. Report yourself to the Consulate General of Indonesia. Many of Indonesian students do not do it then regretted it later. Do it as soon as possible! The Consulate do come to universities sometimes on some events.
Address: 72 Queens Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004
h. Download Phone Apps! An article about useful phone apps will be available next month (July 2015).
i. Australian English language and several Australian-specific terms are unique. It took a while for me to understand Australian English. Once at a restaurant, a waiter said the bill was fif-ten dollars, I gave him $5.10, apparently it was $15! There are Aussie slangs such as arvo (afternoon), barbie (BBQ) and the famous Aussie greeting: G’day, Mate! (of course)
j. Racism? Melbourne is a very multicultural city, you can definitely find Asians and Indonesians everywhere (as in hear people speak in Indonesian or other Asian languages). I am not worried about racism. But in case it happened, do not be shocked.
k. O-Week: it’s not boring but it’s useful! Go the expo: join clubs and societies at your university! Especially Indonesian Association (PPIA) in your university!
n. Study, study, study! But…don’t forget to explore Melbourne, its suburbs and do road trips! Go to Dandenong for its beautiful fallen leaves, Grampian National Parks, Wilsons Promontory Parks, Yarra Valley and colourful beach houses at Brighton Beach.
Congrats, you are a Melburnian now!
o. Just in case: you miss Indonesia, here are recommended Indonesian restaurants and Asian supermarkets you can visit!
You can find kerupuk ikan, terasi, sambal ABC, to Indomie here:
Laguna Oriental and Indonesian Supermarket
* 772 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC
*QV Shopping Centre (Corner of Swanston Street & Lonsdale Street), Melbourne VIC
Indonesian Restaurants in Melbourne, among others:
Es Teler 77 (Emporium Mall Food Court, Melbourne CBD)
Blok M (380 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD)
Kedai Satay (186 King Street, Melbourne CBD)
Warung Gudeg (276 Clayton Road, Clayton CBD)
I hope you this checklist is useful! If you have any questions for me, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in Melbourne!
Photo: Alan Lam, used under Creative Commons License.