Top 5 mistakes international students make (Issue 9, 2013)

Getting-helpStudying in a foreign country can be overwhelming! Even if you speak the language, you still have to deal with different teaching styles, a new environment, new people, different accents and on top of it all, you’re no longer surrounded by friends and family. Because of these stresses, some international students tend to make similar mistakes. Below is a list of mistakes to avoid when you’re studying overseas.

Missing Orientation

This is a common mistake that causes all kinds of trouble. During Orientation you need to register your arrival and enrol in your course – if you don’t, you’re in breach of your visa conditions, which can result in being sent straight back home! La Trobe University also uses Orientation to give international students important information on living and studying in Melbourne, information on courses, subjects and timetables, plus offers heaps of fun activities to help students make friends. The Amazing Race is a great way to make friends and get your head around Melbourne – check out this video on the experience.

Visit La Trobe University’s Orientation website to see why else Orientation should not be missed!

Keeping to yourself or others from your country

It’s very easy to fall into this pattern when you’re in a strange environment. Other people from your country can provide comfort and security when you first arrive, but remember that everyone who is starting your course (including local students) are starting something new – you are all in the same boat. All new students will be nervous at the beginning, so this is the perfect time to break down barriers and hopefully make lasting friendships.

La Trobe students always comment that meeting such a diverse group of people is one of the highlights of their experience. One of the ways you can meet people from different places is to join our popular volunteering program or one of the many clubs and societies. We even have a Language and Cultural Exchange (LACE) program, which connects you to people who are interested in your culture and language. Visit the International Student Services website for more information on enhancing your experience.

Not looking after your health

The pressure of studying abroad can feel intense sometimes. Especially if you’re working part time, away from your family, on a scholarship or sponsorship, or struggle with the language. You might find yourself in a situation where late night study sessions, unhealthy food and skipping meals or indulging in unhealthy social behaviour become normal. There are also many other difficult or confusing experiences that can happen while you’re at university – and La Trobe has programs committed to helping you through these. Visit the Living Well @ La Trobe website for more information on these programs. La Trobe International also have a team of dedicated staff who can address problems unique to international students.

Not exploring the environment

It’s really important to get to know your new city and the environment around your university. Ask questions and find out if there are any unsafe areas or areas that you wouldn’t feel comfortable in. La Trobe University gives all new international students a comprehensive guide on Melbourne (PDF 3.6MB) and the areas surrounding the University. It explains how to get around Melbourne and Bendigo and has everything you need to know about public transport. Familiarising yourself with your environment and figuring out how to get around will help you settle in faster and feel more comfortable. You’ll also find all the best places to go in your new home!

Not seeking help

Bottling up your emotions will only make the problem grow. No matter how small the problem is, it’s always best to talk to someone about it. Chat to friends if you can – you will probably find they are very open to helping you if they can. If you’re unable to chat to friends about it, La Trobe University offers a free counselling service for all students. La Trobe International also have a team of dedicated staff that can offer you advice on a range of issues during one-on-one appointments.