Things to pack when you come to Australia as an International Student

This is a question we don’t put much stress until the last minute: what items am I going to fit in the 30 to 40 kilo weight limit? As soon as I had my University acceptance letter and student Visa in my hands, I thought stressful times are over, all I need to do was move. That bubble pooped a few weeks later when I was struggling to fit all my possessions in the weight limit and having to decide between what I need and what I want.

I think the first reaction when you are arranging your bags is that you need to take every single item a student needs for daily living. The reason for this could be because you are unsure what you need and what is available in Australia, and whether it fits your budget. I will break down essentials you need to bring and common items International Students tend to bring that you need to leave at home. If I had to do it all over again, I will start with a list. This way you know exactly what to buy and of what quantity. 

Don’t worry, let me help you with that list.

Stationery – Leave at home

If you are like me, you love your coloured stationery and have created the illusion you study better with rainbow study notes. Don’t worry, there is plenty of places in Australia to buy quality stationery for cheap. KMART is a great place to start. You can find a wide range of cheap stationery at your local KMART store. If you don’t mind splurging a bit more, head over to Office Works, my stationery go to stop. I am not sure if this is there in all universities, but UNSW (University of New South Wales) had a stationery shop, where you can get stationery for FREE. So in case you are running late to class and realised you forgot your pen, you can just head over the University stationery store.


Clothes and shoes – bring only essentials

Especially for girls, this must be the most important and difficult category to decide. You can find plenty of clothes and shoes according to trends and seasons right here in Australia. If you are coming for the February / March in-take, it is beginning of Spring. The minimum average day time temperature during this period is about 15 to 20 degrees. For those from colder countries, this is considered perfect weather. If you are tropical like me, this is considered brisk weather. Definitely pack your cardigans, sweaters and leg warmers, you will need it at touch down. If you are coming for the July in take, a thick winter jacket and clothes to keep you warm is a must. At least until you start to shop. 

You must pack a bath towel, a napkin, a bed sheet and two pillow covers as these are not provided and you need these right from the first day.

Cash in hand

cash in hand at australia

The amount of Australian dollar you need to bring depends on your circumstance. If you have any outstanding fees to pay, such as rental bond, tuition fees, be sure to bring this with you in form of cash or money orders, whatever is accepted. In addition to that if you are looking to take a post-paid or under-contract mobile plan, the service provider will request you for your bank statement with a minimum AUD 1,000 balance. If you don’t want such complications, you can opt for a pre-paid plan. 

If you are bringing over AUD 10,000 you will be required to declare this at customs. 

Prescribed medication 

If you have prescribed drugs, it is best bring that along with a prescription since you need to declare this at customs. You are allowed to bring three-month supply accompanied by a prescription. I’d suggest you do so because you may not find the same drugs in Australian pharmacies. However, there are substitutes, most of which are not available for over-the-counter purchase, and requires a prescription by an Australian practitioner.  

Don’t worry about adaptors

You can find any type of adaptors at any convenience store or electronic stores like JB HiFi. It might be a good idea to have one adaptor packed so that you won’t have trouble charging your electronics on the first day. Australia uses two flat pins in a V-shape as well as a grounding pin.

You can visit Australian Border Forces website to see what you cannot bring in to the country and what goods need to be declared.

Toiletries – bring travel size 

travel size toiletries

Toiletries are very heavy and can take a lot of space and weight. Let’s also not forget possible liquid explosions in the bag. You can find toiletries ranging from convenient store brands to premier brands here in Australia. Don’t waste your space and weight. Simply bring travel size bottles just enough for the first couple of days.

Food – no fresh produce, only packaged

All food items must be declared at customs. I think it goes without saying, it is illegal to bring any fresh produce in to the country. If you want to avoid the inconvenience of declaring, I’d suggest you avoid any food items. Since Australia is a multi-cultural country, you are able to find stores catering to different nationalities and products from your home-country. You just need to do a bit of research on where to find these stores. Alternatively, you can bring packaged food items provided it has a label with ingredients.

Cookware like a saucepan, cups, plates, bowls, spoons – leave at home. You can find everything here at KMART at affordable prices.

Sentimental and valuable possessions – only if it is essential

If you want to bring sentimental or valuable items which are irreplaceable or costly to replace, just bring only if it is essential. Only reason being you will have to take extra care of these items during your travels, shifting apartments and on a day-to-day basis. 

Finally, travel light

The 30 / 40 kilos you receive from the airline is plenty when moving to Australia for the first time as an International Student. It is always best to have fewer possessions as it will make your move comfortable. A typical International Student changes living spaces at least three times during their University period. It is very convenient to have less clutter and only essentials during these moves. Furthermore, student accommodation is not spacious, hence limited storage.  

I really hope this helped you to start planning your move. Let me know if there are any items that you would add to this list.

Until next time… 

How to Make It Through a Long-Distance Relationship

You hear the horror stories about long-distance relationships that tells you all the reason why you shouldn’t even attempt to give the relationship a chance. I am here to tell you all the reasons how you can get through if you give it a chance. There is no one better to advise on this topic other than a person who has been through the entirety of a long-distance relationship. I guess you know where this is leading, yes, I am currently in a long-distance relationship and have been for the last four years.

Just to give you a little bit of a background on my relationship. We started dating at the age of 17, right out of school. We were young and ambitious, so we had our own personal goals we wanted to pursue. Knowing the difficulty that it could place on the relationship, we decided to work on our personal goals while being committed to the relationship. At the age of 22, I flew to Australia, another continent, 8,700 kilometres away from my partner.

I am not going to say that this is the best thing that happened to us because that would be a lie. There were times I felt like our relationship was not moving forward or our future was uncertain. I came to realise these doubts are inevitable whether you are geographically separated or not, especially at a young age. It was hard adjusting in the first few months. As time passed, we learnt the ways to make it work.

It takes a few months to adjust to the change. I started to take one day at a time. I moved to a new country away from my partner and family, everything was an unfamiliar setting. I was focusing on what I needed to accomplish for the day and stopped worrying about factors that were not in my control. I would wake up every morning and write down tasks-to-do for the day. Once, I get all my tasks completed, I feel accomplished. Not going to lie, some days I failed at this, but tried again the next day. Eventually, I adapted.

The main reason why we opted to a long-distance relationship was to pursue career and educational opportunities. What a waste of time would it be if we failed at it.  We are doing everything to ensure we work towards achieving those goals. This helps us to keep ourselves busy and days feel shorter and time travels faster. Whether this is attending lectures, working, running errands, engaging in a hobby…. less time you idle, less time you spend missing each other.

The next point, I am finding it hard to put this point in to words, so hope this makes sense: have something to look forward to. You know what day I am looking forward to, 9th October, the day I get see my partner again. If you don’t have a plan as to when you and your partner will reunite, everything will seem too far away. Always have a date or month in mind as to when you will see each again. Everyday keep reminding each other that it is not far long.

I think the next point is a given, but I will state it anyway: communication.  When you both are stuck in two different time zones and zero physical interactions, a lot of important things can go unsaid or misunderstood. Most of the arguments I have with my partner is because of poor communication, where one of us misunderstand, misinterpret or makes assumptions. It is best to communicate and consult any concerns you have about the relationship with your partner. There is no one that knows the relationship better than the two people involved in it. Rather than confronting and taking advice from friends,  first, reach out to your partner.

Keeping in line with the point about communication, take (at least) a few minutes out of your day to update each other. Even if you don’t have anything important to share, simple things like what you cooked today, how your day was or where you went (cheesy, I know, but it matters). Even better, share pictures and videos, so it feels like you both are sharing the experience. My partner and I enjoy sharing real-time photographs of what we are doing or eating because visuals speak a thousand words with no time wasted on typing the same.  While at the beginning, it might seem impossible to find a convenient time for both, things will fall in to place. Don’t take communication for granted since this is what keeps the relationship alive.

Finally, no matter what you do, the important thing is that you make a choice. Any relationship got issues. Whether you and your partner decide to work on the issues or break-up is a choice. Same principle applies in a long-distance relationship. During any cross-road, you have the choice to go forward or end it. Remember, make this choice when you are feeling neutral. Don’t make rash decisions when feeling any negative emotions like anger, frustration, doubt or lonely. If you want to try a long-distance relationship, remember it is a decision between you and your partner, no one else.

In my honest opinion, if I had to do the last four years all over again, I (and my partner agreed too) will make the same choice of a long-distance relationship. Our decision had a positive impact on each other’s personal growth and careers that is proving to be beneficial for OUR FUTURE.

Until next time….