So you get out of the airport and can totally feel the chills, the thrills and the excitement that is to follow! You breathe in all the freshness and it’s like you’ve left all your troubles back home.
For me, it was as if my new life had started. Like for the past 21 years I was living as someone and something else and now, everything is going to change. Because a new country, a new home, new streets, new coffee shops, new people, new teachers and a NEW LIFE awaits!
But hey! Here are some things that you need to take care of ASAP, because you know you’re in a foreign land and who wants to be stranded?
After a long flight you definitely need to rest and freshen up. So, I suggest that you book accommodation from your home country so that you have a place to go to from the airport. A hotel would totally do, as for me, I stayed at 14 Merivale Street. Now since I was at a different place altogether, the traveller in me decided to GO OUT AND EXPLORE! I talked to the hotel staff about where I could get a SIM card from, that being one of the most important things. Then I just walked the streets, going anywhere I pleased.
I went to Woolworths to get a Telstra SIM worth $30, came back home and activated it right away. You can get a SIM card at any Seven-Eleven, Coles, or Woolworths. It’s important that you send your new phone number to your family and friends back home, because who doesn’t want to stay connected?
Then I went onto finalising my long term accommodation. I kept in mind factors like connectivity, distance from my campus, grocery shops etc while looking for accommodation. There are several student accommodations available in South Bank like Urbanest, Atira, UniLodge and Scape. Some of these even provide discounts to students from specific universities. I settled with Urbanest and decided to move in the next day! I then updated my address and my phone number with my university.
My next step was to open a bank account. I chose Commonwealth Bank of Australia due to the student benefits they offer. It is important that you chose a branch which is close to your accommodation so that it is easily accessible.
I’d suggest you get all the basic stuff like clothes hangers, groceries, kitchen utensils, linen etc for your permanent stay. Since I am an artist, I decorated my room to make it feel like home before the homesickness kicked in! Add a part of yourself to your room. Photos of family and friends, posters, wall decor and what not!
I got my Go Card on my third day in Brisbane. A Go Card is a travel card that allows you to travel on buses, trains and ferries. Since you are a tertiary student, you can even apply for a concession, i.e., you pay just half the price of the normal fare! You can get a Go Card from the nearest train station and apply for the concession online.
As for me, I explored a lot during my first week in Brisbane. I visited thrift stores (St. Veronica Thrift Shop, Lifeline Shop, Vinnies, Yesterdays Thrift Shop, etc), the Wheel of Brisbane, the Parklands, the South Bank Collective Markets, the artificial Streets Beach, Nurseries and found a coffee shop which gives the best iced coffee!! The thrift shops surely offer amazing stuff starting from $2 which include clothes, footwear, jewellery, accessories, bags etc. I even got a small cactus for myself to add a little greenery to my room!
After all the exploring it was finally time for O Week! I was super excited for O week as it is a big part of university life for international students. They tell you all about the university; where to find what, who to ask what, who to go to when you’re not feeling alright, etc. You get a tour of the campus, learn loads about the Uni and get to know people too! Universities also have Market Days (read: Free Stuff Days, haha) which comprise of different brands and campus clubs who basically tell you about their features and offer you discounts and free food! And with that, my seven days in Brisbane were over!
The one thing I realised is that Brisbane is a beautiful place. It’s like the Art Capital of Queensland with the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and multiple artistic installations all around the city! The people here are super polite and helpful. You just need to ask and they will be more than happy to help.
I am not going to say “make friends”, because I know that comes from within. Rather I would suggest, don’t force it, just be with the people who suit your vibe.
Go and explore the city. The best kind of exploration happens when you are alone, because you are free to roam about anywhere and everywhere you want to. And people are not going to be there ALWAYS, so it’s better if you are comfortable with being on your own!
All the best for your new life!