20 tips for International students to survive in Melbourne

by newintstudents

These are the top twenty tips that I found that were useful. These should be followed to ensure that you study successfully without any problems.

  1. Look for housing EARLY

 see housing post

  1. Know your rights at RMIT.

Did you know that RMIT has an obligation to treat students fairly and mark them fairly? Well they do. If you are not being treated or marked fairly you should go and see your lecturer about it. If they can’t help, why not ask the Student Union. They have helped many students win their appeals and complaints. Check out: www.su.rmit.edu.au for more information.

You also have a right to study in an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination.

(See my post on university policies)

  1. Get involved with clubs and societies.

The Student Union has many clubs and societies for students to get to know one another and make friends. If you join up in the first few weeks of semester, you might get a free goodie bag full of discounts and food. And if you go to a few of their events you might get free food. There is also World week which some of the clubs and Student Union run every September. There are quite a few cultural clubs for students to make sure that they get the best out of uni. Check out: www.su.rmit.edu.au.


  1. Go to a free breakfast, bbq or a meal.

The student union will most likely run free breakfasts and free bbqs weekly, so why not?



  1. Buy food in bulk. (See how much will my grocery bill cost per year? post)


  1. Check out the back of your hotdockets. These have really good deals; such as buy one get one free.


  1. Travel safely at night (check out safety posts)
  2. A student DOES NOT EQUAL a concession fare in Melbourne

All international, postgrad and part time students are NOT allowed to apply for a concession card.

(Check out transport to uni post)

  1. Watch your belongings…even though Melbourne is a safe city.

There are a lot of thieves around. So don’t leave your valuables lying around. If you are sitting, place your bag in your lap. If you are standing place your bag/s between your feet. Don’t show them off to anyone unless you know them really well.

And if you do lose something valuable, such as a handbag report it to the police. If you do lose your bankcards make sure that you go to the bank straight away and tell them, otherwise they will not put a stop to your card and you could lose money.

Make sure that you tell the phone company that you lost your phone so that no one can make calls from it.

Make sure that you replace your house keys, or otherwise someone might burgle or attack you.

Do not leave identity documents in your bag.

(See safety posts)

  1. Don’t eat out at restaurants too much …because restaurants are very expensive and most of their meals are of poor nutritional value.

If you don’t know how to cook, then why not try coming to the RMIT Student Union’s café, RUSU Realfoods cooking classes? They will teach you how to cook yummy nutritional meals for free each semester. They usually have three a semester. But if you really want to learn how to cook, why not volunteer at the cafe as a kitchenhan?

If you do have to eat out at restaurants check to make sure that they are clean and not dodgy. If the deal sounds too good ask yourself why.

Sometimes you can take advantage of the pop up restaurants that are promoting themselves and get to try food for a really cheap price.

  1. Talk cheaply.

     Use Skype – the free Internet program to talk to your parents overseas. You get to see them and they get to see you and you can show them stuff. Use Facebook chat to talk to your friends overseas. It’s free.

Buy prepaid mobile. There are no contracts, bills etc and you can buy whatever credit you need and whenever you need it. And nowadays supermarkets are giving you discounts for buying credit at their stores. You can check out the call rates and deals at: prepaidplans.com.au

  1. Don’t get caught in scams.

What are scams? You might ask. Scams are things that rip people off. They can be requests to do with money or giving out personal information. Check out: www.scamwatch.com.au for more information and get the latest news about the latest scams. They always update their database from time to time. There are a lot of job scams on the market such as work at home scams. Do not reply to them as they are mainly about money laundering and it is illegal in Australia. If you are not sure ask the RMIT Careers people or research them on the ASIC website at: http://www.asic.gov.au or careerone.com.au.   Do not respond to emails that ask for money or personal information from people or businesses you do not trust. Just delete them.


  1. You do have rights at work. – See article on work rights



  1. You do have rights as a consumer.

(See phone and Internet bill article)



  1. Make friends in Melbourne.

Join the RMIT Mates program, a program to help newcomers like yourself settle in. you can also join one of the many clubs that RMIT Student Union has to offer. Or you can volunteer your time at the RMIT Student union.


  1. Go to weekend markets.

These have really cheap food and other stuff and you’re bound to have a good time there. There might be one close to you. Check the local newspapers and brochures for more details. There are no entry fees and you can buy as much as you need for as little as a $1.


  1. Use RMIT services.

They are free and they’re to support you. You should use them. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. The learning skills unit run workshops every semester about writing assignments as well as English classes and they are free.

The library also runs classes on how to find information on their databases and Endnote. It is free for all students. (Check out my article on campuses)

  1. Cut your hair cheaply.

You can go to the salons, which employ student trainees. An experienced person supervises them and they will usually do it for half price. Biba in Swanston is a good place to start as they do cheap haircuts. Haircuts start from $25 and colours start from $45. But there might be a local hairdresser that you live near by that might do a deal. It’s worth giving them a ring and asking them. Check out: truelocal.com.au for more information


You can also colour your hair at home for cheaper. Hairhouse warehouse and Price attack has lots of hair colours and salon advice for a low cost. There are stores all over Melbourne. But make sure that you read the instructions and do a test run before colouring your hair.


  1. Use your orientation freebies.

Go to the big O’day festivals. Grab lots and lots of freebies such as pens, pencils, food, vouchers, books etc from the orientation day stallholders and use them. It might just save you a bit of money.



  1. Sign up for student banking at the Commonwealth Bank (see post on bank and tax). They do give out a bag full of goodies that you can use throughout the year. They also have $0 banking fees.