Living in Sydney

Bondi Beach

Welcome to Sydney!

One of the world’s most popular study destinations for international students, Sydney is rich in natural beauty, with world famous beaches, national parks and international icons such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

There’s so much to discover as Sydney offers fantastic dining, shopping and a range of awe-inspiring arts and cultural events held throughout the year culminating in the spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations on the harbour.

Considered one of the world’s most safe, secure and healthiest cities* we have resources at La Trobe to help you find your feet and settle into life in Sydney and the Student Representative Council (SRC) organises regular events and excursions so you can make the most of your time here.

Meet the locals

Aussies are considered extremely friendly by international visitors, so don’t worry if you think your English isn’t perfect, strike up a conversation. Aussies tend to use ‘slang’ shortening words and names so don’t be surprised if you end up with a new nickname. The culture is quite casual and it can take a little time to pick up the local lingo but once you do ‘you’ll be right.’

Australians are happy to give everyone ‘a fair go’ and while considered easy going in general here are a few tips to help you fit in.

  • Have a chat - if someone strikes up conversation whether it’s a taxi driver or someone standing at the bus stop beside you, take the time to respond.
  • Don’t be late – for work, lectures or to catch up with friends, being on time is considered important particularly for internships or work.
  • Join the queue – Aussies tend to queue and it’s considered rude to push in front of others. On public transport let people off before you attempt to board.

Make sure you join the Social Club to help you meet other students, make friends and get involved in all the activities on campus, you’ll find it makes life easier and a lot more fun.

Banking and money

It is recommended that you set up a local bank account, particularly if you intend to work while you are here. ATM’s can accept international cards and there are plenty of places to exchange foreign cash near the campus when you first arrive.

To avoid international transfer fees and charges head into an Australian bank branch around the campus and ask about setting up an account. Many of the branches in the city have bilingual staff so if you have concerns just ask if there’s a staff member who you can speak to. You will need to show some ID, proof of study and proof of your address in Australia.

Here are some tips to help you manage your money while you are studying:

  • Work out a weekly budget for yourself to ensure you have enough funds to last for your stay.
  • Shop around for the best bank transaction account to avoid fees and charges.
  • It is recommended that you apply for a tax file number (TFN) to avoid paying high rates of tax in Australia and to receive the tax free threshold if you are working. You can do this through the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
  • Shop around and compare prices for things like internet connection and mobile phones. If you have brought your handset with you, you may like to purchase a local SIM card from a service provider or if staying for more than two years consider a contract that provides you with a phone and data plan for a monthly charge.

NSW laws

Sydney is ranked third safest city in Price Waterhouse Cooper’s – Cities of Opportunity 2016, with laws in place to protect international students’ safety, employment and consumer rights.

Some of the laws such as drink driving and road safety – even on a bicycle - are heavily enforced and it is important to understand NSW laws or risk heavy fines or even criminal charges. The police are here to assist you and help keep you safe and high standards of professional conduct are expected of them which has led to very minimal corruption and bribery.

All crime should be reported and you can do this by calling the 000 in an emergency, this call is free from any landline or mobile. If it is not an emergency dial 131 444 for the Police Assistance Line or you can report a crime in person at your local police station.

If you have any questions to do with local laws, study or your employment, Redfern Legal Centre has a free service for International students, offering free confidential legal advice on a range of matters.

Medical help

Australia has a high standard of healthcare and your visa requirement of Overseas Student Healthcare Cover (OSHC) allows you to access general practitioner (GP) and hospital services. It is a good idea for you to understand what your OSHC covers and what it does not, to manage any unexpected bills.

There are medical centres close to the campus and bulk billing is available at some of these. You may find that some GP’s charge an additional fee on top of Medicare or what the OSHC covers so it is a good idea to check when making your appointment.

Hospitals are mainly for emergencies so if you are unwell, your first stop should be a medical centre, however if it is an emergency call 000 for ambulance services.

It is important to pay attention to your mind as well as your body and the Sydney Campus has counselling services available if you are feeling overwhelmed or homesick.

Food and shopping

The Sydney Campus is a 10 – 15 minute walk from the busy shopping mecca in Sydney’s CBD. Made up of a series of shopping centres, department stores, designer and chain store fashion outlets, you’ll find every label on offer.

The campus is also in the best location for dining out with a range of cafes and restaurants, of every international cuisine on offer within a short walk. Its location is ideal for exploring all the city has to offer in the way of eateries.

Food is fresh and plentiful and there are large scale supermarkets throughout Sydney but we also have an abundance of specialty supermarkets catering for international foods, so you’ll find plenty of comfort food from home.

Don’t forget to seek visit the food markets, from Paddy’s Market with fresh market produce and Sydney’s Fish Markets to the many weekend farmer’s markets offering organic and specialty produce.

Where to live

Sydney is made up of a series of diverse ‘villages’ each with their own characteristics and attractions. Living in and around the city itself can be extremely convenient, with everything you need on your doorstep but if you want more it’s time to start exploring.

The eastern suburbs are home to Sydney’s famous beaches and enjoy an outdoors lifestyle second to none but those water views do come at some expense. The leafy lower north shore is convenient and has its own business district in North Sydney and major shopping area of Chatswood, all serviced by a reliable train line. The inner west suburbs boast an eclectic artsy community with great restaurants, cafes and bars and a community feel. Head further west for cheaper rents and communities that represent the multicultural diversity that Sydney is known for.

You may like to start off in homestay or student accommodation initially until you decide where you want to live. Suburbs with the highest La Trobe University Sydney Campus student population include Rhodes, Burwood and Zetland but anywhere with good public transport links is ideal.

Find out more about accommodation in Sydney here.

Holidays and festivals

NSW public holidays are New Year's Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the Queen’s birthday and Labour Day. View a calendar of dates for public holidays in NSW.

Although we celebrate the many cultural festivals that represent our communities – such as Chinese New Year, Diwali, Eid and many others – these are not public holidays in NSW.

Students will also get breaks in between study periods, you can view the academic calendar online to see when the holidays occur.

Nightlife and events

There’s always something happening in Sydney and even if you don’t like pubs and clubs there are still plenty of events and happenings that don’t involve alcohol.

Environment, culture and heritage

If you’re interested in learning more about Sydney’s history, cultural heritage and environment there are many cultural institutions just a short walk from the Sydney Campus.

The city recognises the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of this place we now call Sydney. Just across Hyde Park from the campus is the Australian Museum where you can learn more about Australia’s First Peoples, then walk across towards the harbour to view the art at the Art Gallery of NSW before strolling to the Museum of Sydney to learn about our colonial history. If modern art is more your cup of tea, the Museum of Contemporary Art is perched on the harbour with magnificent views from the rooftop or you could take a walking tour of The Rocks, the oldest section of colonial Sydney.

If natural beauty and wildlife are more your thing, you don’t have to travel far to find unique natural environments in the Sydney area or take a ferry across the harbour and meet the local wildlife at Taronga Zoo.

Bondi Beach may be iconic but there are many other beaches around Sydney to explore, find out more at Destination NSW or stay closer to campus and explore Sydney Harbour.

* Price Waterhouse Cooper’s 2016 Cities of Opportunity