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Adapting to Life in Australia

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Studying abroad is a blend of social, cultural and academic challenges that international students have to face and overcome to get the best out of their experience in a new country. Many students find it fascinating to be introduced to an entirely new way of living, while some find it difficult to get the hang of it, especially when they are new and feeling homesick.

I was pretty excited when I arrived in Melbourne last winter, to start my new life in Australia as a graduate student. I remember coming out of the airport’s international lounge… only to find out that the driver who was meant to meet me was not there. I didn’t panic, though I felt irritated.

It was not something new for me to wait for someone, given in Pakistan – my home – it is a routine practice for people to not show up on time. I’d just expected something different (better) from Melbourne. But here is an interesting part: when my chauffer did arrive, after a delay of about 30 minutes, he could not help but apologize again and again, and again, for the delay. Now that was something different.

After spending about eight months studying in Australia, I have come across numerous situations that have left me dumbstruck, because they are just so different from what happens in my own country. I hope I can now pass on some insights for others about what to expect from life in Australia.

Get ready for the Melbourne weather – four seasons, all in one day

Like many other cities, Melbourne is a place of four seasons. The only difference about the Melbourne weather is that you will see the four seasons just in one day. A bright and sunny morning will suddenly pave the way for dark clouds that turn into heavy showers then vanish as quickly as they arrive, leaving a touch of coldness in the atmosphere. This is highly unlikely in my home country of Pakistan, given the rain would not fall even if the met department had predicted heavy showers. Take my advice: always keep an umbrella with you when you are in Melbourne.

Expect public transport in Australia to arrive on time

Another major difference about life in Australia, compared to what I’d been used to, is the public transport system. If the transport app on your smartphone is saying a train, tram or bus will arrive at a certain time, believe it. Over 95% of the time (and I am being cautious here), I’ve found that the public transport in Australia is on time. Here is an important tip: let the passengers come out before you board.

Remember that rules are meant to be followed

This seems basic, very basic actually, but ironically a lot of people coming to Western countries from the developing countries are not used to following so many rules. So if you are here, make sure you are following them. You must maintain the speed limit while driving, stop at the red light and so on. There can be a big difference when it comes to breaking rules in different countries; you’re likely to get a hefty fine here, enough to make you a law-abiding citizen in your own country.

Be prepared for the friendly and casual Australian culture, “mate”

In general Australian culture is very friendly and casual. You will not be judged on your age or background. This is unlike our country, where the elderly receive special attention and respect from the young ones. So don’t feel insulted if a person 10 years older or younger than you comes and calls you ‘mate’. It’s just how they call out to each other in Australia. Get used to Australian culture, mate.

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Written by Zain Nabi
Hailing from Pakistan, Zain finished a Masters of Journalism and International Relations at Monash University in Australia. He is working as a journalist and media trainer in Melbourne along with secretly harboring an ambition to become a filmmaker.

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