Building a Life Abroad

By Tara Brougham, University of Melbourne, Australia

I arrived in Melbourne for my exchange nearly 3 weeks ago, and the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, getting to grips with classes in another academic system and all the (sometimes boring) life admin you have to do to live somewhere new. The vast number of things I needed to do once I had arrived in Melbourne was overwhelming, so the aim of this post is to make it that little bit easier for anyone else embarking on exchange, particularly in Australia.


By far the most pressing thing when I arrived was making sure my phone had data, on an Australian network, as soon as possible. One thing that was invaluable during the first few days, was the fact that my UK network allowed roaming in Australia at no extra cost. There are also short term deals which allow about a week of roaming abroad. I would highly recommend these as having a working phone is practical for things such as getting around, as well as staying in contact with people from home. In the long term, getting an Australian sim is essential and very easy to set up in store. The best brands for this are Telstra, Optus or Aldi.

University Set up:

Another important element of building your life abroad is getting to know your host university and ensuring any set up such as enrolment and collecting your student ID is organised. This is where arriving a week or so early is useful, it gave me time to explore the campus and check my timetable was set up properly. Host universities may also put on events or orientation weeks which are important to attend. At the University of Melbourne we had an international introductory talk and a ‘sausage sizzle’ lunch. This was the perfect opportunity to meet others on exchange, and form friendships with people in the same boat.

Making a Home:

Another crucial part of setting up your new life abroad will be ensuring your room, be it in student accommodation or a share house, is a cosy, relaxing space for you to come back to at the end of each day. For me, this meant buying a few extra things such as nice bedding and storage for makeup and skincare, but it completely depends on what is important to you! Overall, arriving in a new country is always going to be overwhelming, but ensuring you have a plan for your first few weeks and take the time to set up your new life properly will be so helpful.

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