I am Ready to Go for Studying Abroad: A Departure Preparation

Morning tea event with student and staff (Personal Documentation)

There are lots and lots of things to prepare to move into a new place for your study abroad program. New city, new people, new cultures are all super exciting yet challenging. Therefore, a comprehensive preparation is important to ensure everything is going to be smooth!

Below, Dewi Nareswari (Dewi), who flew to Sydney Australia in February 2023 for pursuing her study in Master of Public Health at The University of New South Wales, will share her experience in doing departure preparation. Let’s go!

Pre-departure preparation (8 important things)

Making a checklist for pre-departure preparation is a must. Starting from a tiny little thing like bringing your smartphone charger to a major stuff like finding an accommodation. Here are the 8 important things you should list!

1. Get connected with your colleagues who live in the destination city

One of the easiest ways to get connected with those people is to join its social media groups (including Indonesian Student Association or Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia/PPI and fellow scholarship awardees) as much as possible. You can find the groups on many platforms such as Telegram, Whatsapp, Facebook. This is highly significant as you will get lots of information about many things (accommodation, food, worship places, administration rules, secondhand goods, etc). Additionally, if you are keen to search for some sharing-session free webinar about departure preparation from students that are currently pursuing their education in your destination city, it would be really helpful to enrich your knowledge to settling down in the city.

2. Accommodation

It is challenging to get an accommodation, especially, in another city or another country which you have not visited yet. However, thanks to Google, you can check all of the information about it via online. Visit these websites to get some more information about accommodation in Australia:

  • Igloo.com.au
  • Studentone.com.au
  • Scape.com.au
  • Unilodge.com.au
  • Facebook groups or marketplace

If you are interested to stay in a short-term place before finding your long-term accommodation, you can go to the airbnb website in your destination city and then take the best deal that works for you! Moreover, it is also possible to search for the available accommodation through PPI social media groups (Telegram, Whatsapp, Facebook), official student property website from university, gumtree.com.au and flatmates.com.au.

3. Important documents

Passport, visa, LoA, academic transcript and certificate from your prior studies as well as driver license are some of the important documents that are needed to prepare. You can bring the copies and/or save all of the documents digitally.

4. Get a Tapcash Card

Tapcash is useful to help you survive in your very first-days abroad. There are a bunch of Tapcash types you can use such as Jenius, BankJago, and any Tapcash card with VISA logo on it.  

5. Bring a necessary amount of cash

During your trip from home-country to the new city abroad, you will need to bring some cash (in your destination country currency), just in case something urgent happen. It is also helpful for surviving when you have not had any bank account yet in the new country, you can use the cash for the first couple of weeks there!

6. Packing

The trick is bringing the essentials only! Pack wisely and bring the necessary things that you cannot or difficult to get in your new city. For example, your personal medicines, some pieces of clothes for each season (don’t pack too much), electronics, skincare and important beauty products. Bringing along meat products are not recommended.

7. Sign up for the free airport pick-up service (if possible)

If your university provides an airport pick-up service for free, it will be really helpful to get the service because they can help to pick you up from the airport to your accommodation. So, ask your university is there any airport pick up service available and then sign-up ASAP!

8. Pay attention to the flight rules (specifically about the belongings and health protocol)

Usually, every country has different flight rules. Taking Australia as an example, flying to this country means you should pay attention to the food and medicines that you bring. It is not recommended to bring meat products, fresh food, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, herbs, rendang (Asian or Indonesian cuisines are quite easy to find in Australia, so, don’t worry!). You are also required to declare your belongings on a declaration form in the airport. Once you have arrived in Australia, the security staff will check the declaration form and sometimes they check and open your suitcases to really investigate your belongings.

What do we do when we arrive there?

Public transport, inside a Sydney city bus (Personal Documentation)

Now you have arrived at the airport in the new city. Here are some of the things that you need to do after your arrival!

1. Be familiar with the transportation route from the airport to your accommodation

Are you planning to take a public transportation from the airport to your accommodation? If you are, it means you need to ensure that you get familiarized with the route. It is recommended to search for information on Google which train or bus should you take as well as its schedule. In addition, you can also ask the train station staff or airport staff about how to commute from the airport to your place.

2. Know how to navigate on Google Maps

Google maps (g-maps) is really useful for you in exploring the new city. We can detect almost every place via g-maps and all we need to do is to be online and read and follow the g-maps direction and done! You have arrived in your destination! Get used to navigate on g-maps!

3. Purchase a service provider

Since you are going to spend a quite long time in another country during your study program, registering for a local service provider (SIM card) is highly recommended. It is very common that you have to provide your local mobile phone number for lots of things (especially for something that is related to government such as registration for a bank account and applying for the national library member card, etc.).

4. Get a public transportation card

Make sure to apply for a public transportation card as soon as possible. Students in general choose to take public transportation rather than private vehicles because it is convenient (do not need to drive) and cheaper (apply for student concessions price).

5. Create a local bank account

The reason for having a local bank account is to avoid financial problems. For example, error transfer from Indonesian or International bank account. It is because during your stay in the new country, you are going to be required to complete many payments to local bank account. Moreover, with local bank account, you can easily find ATM machines here and there, so, when you need some cash you can go to the nearest ATM around.

6. Go get your ID card!

Go to the student center on your campus and ask how to get the student ID card. However, sometimes, campus will ask students to apply online for requesting the student ID card and then wait for a couple of business days to collect the card at the student center. Additionally, in some cases, a certain city provides an ID card for its residents that is integrated to the resident’s important documents (Visa, Passport, Student ID, etc.). For example, keypass in Sydney (you can apply to get a keypass if you want to).

Get well-fed!

A peek into Sydney’s grocery scene (Personal Documentation)

In some places the price of food is really expensive, therefore, here are some good strategies that you can do to get well-fed in your new city!

1. Grocery shopping

You can do grocery shopping in your favorite (cheaper and/or nearest) supermarket/market. Usually, the stores have a very competitive prices for their products. So, don’t forget to check the discounts!

2. Cook, cook, cook

As you are living far away from your home, you need to prepare the food for yourself, whether it is buying or cooking. Cooking is way cheaper than eating out! if you are not a good cook, you can learn from YouTube and follow the tutorial as well as the recipe. As time goes by, you will get used to it. But, if you prefer to not cook, you can ask people around where to find cheap eats in the city.

3. Meal-prep

Cooking every single day is somehow not effective because it takes a lot of time. Therefore, cooking a big portion of food and then put it in a good storage (fridge or freezer) can help you to survive for a couple of days ahead. Keeping the food in the fridge/freezer can extend the expiry date of your meal.

4. For Muslims, check the halal logo on your food

Before buying some food from the market, don’t forget to check the halal logo. If there is no halal logo in the packaging, you can try to scan the product’s barcode on halal checker applications on your mobile phone. For the alternative, when you don’t have any barcode on your food, you can order vegetarian meals.  

Getting ready to start the uni-life

Students engaging in classroom group discussion (Personal Documentation)

There are six steps that you can do to get ready for the uni-journey. Here we go!

1. Deep dive into your campus website

Exploring your campus website is useful to get to know more information, including about how to properly do referencing and citations, how to utilize your academic email, access to lots of important workshops and trainings, interesting events about research and industry, internship opportunities, scholarships, etc.

2. Understand your course program

Re-read and understand all of the information about your course program (course profile, assessment, syllabus or handbook, course requirements, course structures, etc.) because it helps to make your course-planning easier. If you have any question or you are not really sure about some things, just ask the school or faculty, they will answer and make you clear about it.

3. Explore your campus!

Campus tour and library tour are commonly provided by universities during orientation week. So, if you have free time, feel free to register to the event because it is very informative! But, if you prefer to explore the campus by yourself, it is totally fine. The thing is you need to make sure that you are familiar with the lecture buildings, faculty office, canteen, libraries, etc. Don’t get lost!

4. Join student community based on your interests
Your university has lots of student communities. You can pick whatever you like and socialize with your community. It can also facilitate you to your hobby and interests. For example, you can join sport club, volunteering club, stargazing club, your study program society, book lovers club, international student society, and many more.

5. Attend all of the orientation-week events

Universities will conduct a bunch of events (including school and faculty information session and mentoring session) during the orientation week (o-week). The purpose is to facilitate new students to get to know the campus. It also helps to make students understand where to contact when they have a problem. So, don’t miss your campus o-week events!

6. Let’s be friends!

Try to make friends with other students on your campus. It is your chance to get new friends because mostly during the orientation week you will find hundreds or even thousands of new students! Don’t be shy, be brave, and approach them!

Dewi Nareswari’s Profile:

Dewi Nareswari is a Master of Public Health student at The University of New South Wales, Australia (2023-2024). She finished her undergraduate program at the Faculty of Medicine at Universitas Negeri Sebelas Maret (Surakarta, Indonesia) in 2018. In her spare time, she loves listening to late-night talk show podcasts and running. (Instagram: @dwnareswari).


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