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International student in Australia: what you should do in your second week


Following my last article A change plan covering what should an international student do in their first week in Australia, I am writing this article to guide you as to what you should do in your second week in Australia. Assuming that you have followed what I recommended in my last article, you will have a number of tasks to keep you busy in the second week.


The tasklist

Now let’s have a look at a list of what you should be doing in your second week in Australia.

  • Banking: If you have followed my suggestion last week, you have opened a bank account and have received a keycard / bankcard by now. Activate this card and there are many ways to do so. Attend a bank branch, or call the number on the back of the card, or use internet banking. If you haven’t learnt internet banking just yet, attend a branch of your bank and ask the staff to show you. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier. You might consider checking if they have any accounts that will earn you interest. In that case, you might consider putting most of the cash you have in the interest bearing account and some spending money in the day to day transactional account. If you have already got your Tax File Number (TFN) you might consider advising the bank of this. That will save your account from being charged with the TFN withholding taxes. Always remember, safety never takes a holiday. So, always follow safety tips from your bank, never give your bank account details, PIN, card number, name or date of birth to any unknown person. Two common frauds here are fooling people by sending an email or a voicemail either with a false news that they have won a lotto or that they are being contacted from a government department for some irregularities and, to stay out of trouble, the call recipient must disclose their banking details. Do not give in to such fraudsters. If you have any doubts, speak to your bank.

  • Private Health Insurance details: Update your details (address, mobile number, email, etc.) with your private health insurance provider. Make sure you have received the relevant card / member number from them. It’s a good idea to have this card handy. You will always need it when attending a medical appointment. You might consider taking a photo of this card and emailing to yourself.

  • Purchase stationery and notebooks for studies: Since you have come to Australia for studies, you will always need stuff like pens, notebooks, pencils, erasers, staplers, staples, plastic sleeves. If you can afford this, then purchase a multi-function centre or MFC, i.e. a machine that has printer, scanner and fax machine together. You can purchase these from many shops but from my experience, Officeworks Superstores is the best place for purchasing stationery. Their stores are available everywhere in Australia.

  • Find out the class schedule: Visit the relevant office of your university / institute to find out when your classes will start, when assignments are due, what the routine is, where you can purchase the text books. A key piece of task is checking whether your student email / ID has been prepared so you can access online learning materials.

  • Know your senior students: By the term ‘senior students’ I mean students who have enrolled into the same course as yours one or two semesters ago. That will probably be the best opportunity for you to understand not just the subject of your study but also the system and culture, i.e. how the classes are conducted, i.e. they are a combination of 2 hour lecture and 2 hour tutorial, or something different; how tests are conducted; how to write an answer to a question; how to write an assignment for attaining high marks; what referencing style is followed; how to utilise the university resources; what to do when you have a complex question or you feel that you need guidance from your professor; what online learning resources are available; whether it is possible to obtain old notes, etc. For study success, I think this networking with senior students is a key contributing factor.

  • Know your local shops, grocery stores, parks, and library: For your day to day needs you’ll be required to purchase many things, you’ll be required to have exercise / outdoor entertainment for wellbeing, and it might be good for your mental health to go through some non-study related reading materials. It is not a healthy habit to stay inside home for the whole day. Go for a long walk or run or yoga or any exercise to your closest park. We are lucky in Australia, there are beautiful parks everywhere. So make sure you know the local shops, grocery stores, parks, and library.

  • Purchase some personal care items: If you have the time, purchase some personal care stuff such as roll on antiperspirant, sunscreen, Vaseline, moisturising cream, etc. I would say the most important of all these is the sunscreen. When I was very new to Australia, the first big stupid mistake I did was going to a beach on a sunny day without using any sunscreen. An acquaintance suggested me using sunscreen but I was overconfident that because of my brown skin I was naturally tanned and would be fine in the sun. But the aftermath was not very pleasant as I had bad sun burn. During the day whenever you go out, especially on a sunny day, use a pair of sunglasses with ultra violet (UV) protection to protect your eyes. You can purchase sunglasses with UV protection from any retail store. The price range varies. However, if you are like me, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to purchase one, a cheap one from a Kmart store will also do a good job in protecting your eyes. Because of the weather it is possible to get dry lips or dry skin. Vaseline creams might help.

  • Know your local hospital and GP: All humans fall sick. Make sure you know the location of your local hospital. Also for medical issues that are not so serious find out the location of your nearest General Practitioner or GP practice. In many countries you might call GP’s as family physicians. In Australia healthcare, GP’s lay a very critical role. They are your first point of contact for any health issues. You will never be able to see a medical specialist (e.g. cardiologists, brain surgeons, obstetricians, skin specialists, etc.) without being checked by and without a referral letter from a GP. It is also helpful to know the location of your local chemist shop in case you need to purchase any medicine.

  • Driver license: Many of you might raise your eyebrows thinking, ‘Hang on, I have no plans to drive while I am a student here. So why do I need a driver license while in Australia?’ Valid question. Without a doubt. In Australia, there will be many occasions where you might be required to show an identification (ID), e.g. at the bank, at the post office, at a pub, sometimes as asked by the police. It is not always a smart idea to carry your passport everywhere, as you do not accidentally or inadvertently want to lose this very important document. The alternative is having a driver license. If you have never driven that is not a problem, you can apply for and obtain a learner license from your nearest motor registry office. I live in NSW and here Service NSW are the state government agency to issue these licenses. At the end of this article, I have added links to the relevant agencies of all states and territories so, depending on which state you live in, you can find out how to apply for a learner driver license. When I first applied for it (many years ago), I had to turn up at an office (then known as RTA) with my passport and a bank statement displaying my address and I had to take an online test. The website of the relevant agency will tell you what to do and contain resources that you can utilise to pass the test. Relax. This test is an easy one, mostly common sense based but a very good way of teaching you about road safety standards. Trust me, having a driver license is very helpful.

  • Practice cooking: Some of you probably know a little bit of cooking and others probably don’t know any cooking at all. That is fine because a lot of you have come out from the shelter provided by your families for the first time. However, life is too fast here; to make it even worse, mum is not here with you to cook delicious meals. Eating out daily is very expensive and, therefore, is unaffordable; plus it is not healthy. Why don’t you try to cook a dish or two? Look in YouTube for your favourite recipes, and even better – my preferred approach – why don’t you call your mum asking for some guidance on her best dishes. She will be happy talking to you and you will be happy learning how to cook some of your favourite meals. Alert: Always mind safety while cooking.

  • Prepare a routine: Your classes might not have started just yet, but there’s no point becoming a couch potato and binging on Netflix. Prepare a routine, with the focus mostly on your studies, allowing time for other important tasks, e.g. cleaning up, cooking, meal times, exercise, and sleep. Even if your classes have not started, talk to senior students (as discussed in a preceding paragraph) about some relevant textbooks, collect them from the library, read them at home, take notes, identify if you don’t understand anything so you can clarify this with your professor when the classes start. Allow some time for socialising too. Exercises are very important to keep you fit and healthy.

I have created a checklist for you below. I have also included some important links below that you might find helpful.

Hope you have found this useful. I am sure you will do well while in Australia. Best of luck.


International student week 2 checklist
Download PDF • 418KB

Links for driver license application details

NSW: Service NSW at

Victoria: VicRoads at

Queensland: Government portal at

South Australia: Government portal at

Western Australia: My driver's license at

Australian Capital Territory: ACT driver license information at

Tasmania: Transport Services at

Northern Territory: Get your driver license at


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