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International student Hiral Jain shares her top five things to know before moving to Australia to study at the University of Wollongong.

Moving to a new country to study you can sometimes experience culture shock – there’s always going to be things you don’t know until you experience it for yourself.

1.   Do not overpack

When you think about packing for a long-term overseas experience, sometimes there’s a natural desire to want to pack everything. The good news is, Australia has everything you need! You can even find products from your home country in dedicated specialty stores and supermarkets.

2.   Beware of the Australian sun

The sun in Australia is very strong as the ozone layer here is thinner compared to other parts of the world. Staying in the sun for more than 15 minutes can cause sunburn and is harmful to your skin. Always protect yourself from the sun; apply water-resistant sunscreen every two hours and cover up with long sleeved clothing, wear a hat and sunglasses.

3.   Be respectful

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the traditional owners of this country’s land. Many Australians show great respect to them.  They are acknowledged verbally before certain meetings, events and programs, so being aware of Australia’s Indigenous people and showing respect is crucial.

 © Rafael Ben Ari |

4.   Not everything is deadly in Australia

Australia is infamous for its deadly creatures, however, not everything is dangerous. Coming across deadly wildlife such as venomous snakes and spiders is not all that common – even if you do, it’s unlikely they will try to harm you unless they are aggravated. Visiting an Australian wildlife park and reading statistics can provide insights about the wildlife here. And let’s not forget about those cute koalas, they’re so docile and friendly. They can sometimes be spotted in the wild if you’re lucky, although sadly their numbers are dwindling!

5.   Signboards near water bodies

There are various signboards across the country providing critical information about bodies of water. These signboards are important to read as they offer valuable information about oceans, lakes and rivers, including marine animals, water conditions, and any other hazards. In Australia, beach conditions are unpredictable, so always swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags as they indicate the safest area, away from dangerous rip currents.

Beach safety graphicAll credit goes to Master of Science and Management (Earth and Environmental Sciences) student Hiral Jain.

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