Congratulations! You're Studying Abroad!
This page contains information for students who are currently on their overseas exchange experience. There is useful information on how to settle in to foreign university life, as well as details on what to do and how to stay safe while in your host country.
- So You've Finally Arrived
So you have just landed and you feel excited and ready for every adventure that comes your way. Or you are just happy to have landed and are enjoying the effects of jet lag. Either way, confusion is perfectly normal and everyone will experience it.
- What Now?
Things to do:
- Contact your family and friends - save them from the anxiety of wondering if you've arrived safely. They will definitely appreciate it.
- Visit the international centre at your host university and let them know you have arrived.
- Attend the orientation program and all social activities to meet people and get a hold of your new surroundings.
Things to do in the first 2 weeks:
- Ensure you have access to funds.
- Enrol (register) for classes if you have not already done so.
- Obtain a student card and concession cards.
- Communication with Home
Contact with Global Learning
Regularly check your University of Adelaide email account (at least twice a week) whilst overseas.
Make sure to:
- Go into GLAS and add your frequently checked email address(es) to your CC list.
- Update your contact details in Access Adelaide.
- Redirect your University of Adelaide email address if necessary.
When phoning home, check out the different options available to determine what will be the best for you (e.g. international calling cards, Skype). Remember, telephone calls from land lines and mobile phones can be extremely expensive, so don't get caught out!
Give your family and/or friends your local phone number and address.
- Cultural Adjustment
You knew this was coming. You mentally prepared yourself, but you're still finding things hard. Remember, these feelings are normal!
The initial excitement of being overseas has begun to wear off and subtle differences that you may not have noticed at first begin to become more obvious as time goes by. The curiosity and excitement on discovering these cultural nuances may start to turn into frustration or anxiety. Culture shock does not always happen quickly; it can accumulate from a series of events that constantly challenge your basic values and beliefs about what is 'right' and 'normal'. Managing your expectations and keeping an open mind are the keys to adjusting successfully.
Here are some tips to help you adjust:
- Make friends with a 'local' - learn about the culture and lifestyle through their eyes.
- Be a tourist - do all the incredibly cheesy things that a tourist does.
- Try something different - each day will present new opportunities and challenges; try something that you would never do at home. Join the fencing team, volunteer around campus, go snowboarding or white water rafting.
- Do something familiar - make you favourite food or watch your favourite movies or sporting event. Invite friends to share the experience with you.
- Ask for packages from home - little things from home, like a jar of vegemite, a packet of Tim Tams or your favourite t-shirt can make a big difference. Alternatively, you can order things online.
If you feel that you are struggling, visit your host university's international centre to ask for help from counselling services, or some other support network.
The faster you can adapt skills for coping, the faster you will be able to overcome these hiccups and enjoy your exchange adventure!
For more information on culture shock, click here
Additional tips on managing culture shock can be found in your Global Society member resources.
- Academic Issues
Have you arrived at your host university only to find that you cannot take the courses approved in your study plan? You'll need to contact your faculty adviser as soon as possible to check that the new course(s) are acceptable for faculty approval. Don't just assume that 'they will be alright'. You may find yourself short on credit when you return, and this may increase the time it takes to obtain your degree.
The appropriate contact persons can be found here.
If you still have problems regarding courses at your host university contact Global Learning Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Returning Early
If you were approved to exchange for two semesters, but decide to return after one, you must notify Global Learning immediately.
So, you're overseas and you want to extend your exchange for an additional semester? You must notify the Global Learning Office immediately to find out if it is possible.
When deciding to extend your exchange while overseas, you may find that the extension process can be complicated, faculty approvals need to be re-negotiated, and your extension may even be denied if another student is already in place to attend that university the following semester (as exchanges are managed on a give-and-take basis with a set number of places available per semester).
Students should note that the final decision about being able to extend is one that must be made mutually between the Global Learning Office and the partner university.
There are several steps you need to take to confirm the extension of your exchange:
- Contact Global Learning (email@example.com) to request an exchange extension and seek approval to continue the process.
- Contact your faculty office at the University of Adelaide (see contacts here) to confirm that you would be able to receive an additional semester of credit towards your degree from exchange. Eventually, your faculty adviser will need to update the approval in your GLAS questionnaire with specific courses, in the first instance Global Learning requires a brief email from your Faculty stating their general approval for you to seek an exchange extension.
- Once Global Learning receive approval from your Faculty, we will contact your host university about the possibility and process of an exchange extension.
- Once you receive approval from your host university to extend your exchange, ensure that Global Learning are aware of this. Your program duration will change in GLAS once we have confirmation.
- Contact the relevant authority to find out how to extend your student visa, if applicable.
- Contact your faculty office at the University of Adelaide to confirm additional course approvals. Your faculty adviser will need to update the approval in your GLAS questionnaire with specific courses.
- Ensure that you have adequate travel insurance to cover your extended stay. University of Adelaide travel insurance covers a period of 180 days, which will not usually cover two semesters. You can extend this cover using the form in the Travel Insurance guide (available to download from your GLAS application or the Legal and Risk webpage) and returning it to the address on the form.
- Enrol in exchange courses for your second semester through Access Adelaide.
- Your Health
You may find that you suffer from some minor health problems soon after your arrival at your destination. Travellers arriving in a new place are usually more vulnerable to upset stomachs, colds and fatigue as their bodies acclimatise to new surroundings (and germs!).
If symptoms persist, however, see a doctor.
International SOS can provide you with advice about how to access medical services while overseas.
Make sure that you retain a copy of all medical documents and receipts you receive.
Contact your insurance provider to see if your medical expenses are covered.
If you have any concerns about insurance, visit the University of Adelaide Legal and Risk homepage for more information. Or contact the Legal and Risk Branch (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any questions regarding insurance.
- Safety and Security
Remember, you are now in a foreign country and it is now your responsibility to keep yourself safe. It is essential that you take the advice of your host university's international student advisers about local safety issues. This will include advice about venues or places that are dangerous or unsafe, as well as local tips on social customs and other issues that could lead to problems. Do not hesitate to contact an adviser if you are in any doubt about a situation.
Read your International SOS pre-trip advice carefully and keep your MyTrips details up to date. You can contact International SOS directly if you have any questions about this advice, or how to best manage your safety.
Every University of Adelaide student has an International SOS membership granted when you complete your MyTrips profile registration (a compulsory stage in the GLAS post-decision checklist). Instructions for accessing International SOS services are emailed out to you on completion of your MyTrips registration, as described in your GLAS application.
Not matter what the social customs of a destination, it is NEVER acceptable for you to feel threatened or unsafe and you should always seek appropriate assistance.
Don't forget to be "street-wise". A very common reaction to arriving in a new place is to feel safe and protected - but be aware that every town and city in the world has some level of crime and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Safety and Security Tips:
- Make a note of local emergency phone numbers shortly after your arrival. You can find the emergency number of your host country using this emergency numbers world map.
- Exercise the usual caution that you would if you were living in your home city. This should apply to your personal belongings and personal safety.
- Immediately report any incidents to your host university's international centre and any local authorities. Follow this up by contacting International SOS and Global Learning as soon as you can.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbours as soon as possible, this way if you do have any problems you will not feel so uncomfortable if you need to approach them for help.
- When going out be sure to surround yourself with people you trust. Be cautious when you meet new people as their intentions may not always be as they appear.
- When travelling to other cities/countries be sure people both in Australia and at your host university know where you will be and when you will return.
- Do not participate in any political activities in countries you visit, avoid angry groups or demonstrations.
- Be respectful of the dress code of your host culture and do your best to not show signs of wealth.
- If something unfortunate does happen, be sure to know what to claim on insurance and how to do it.
For more information about insurance, visit the University of Adelaide Legal and Risk homepage. Or contact the Legal and Risk Branch (email@example.com) for any questions regarding insurance.
- Career Benefits
Remember to keep in mind that your exchange experience can serve as a tool for you to improve your career opportunities. Here are some ways you can make the most of your overseas experience:
- Keep a 'careers focused' blog/journal, highlighting any employability skills that you pick up whilst overseas.
- Join LinkedIn to keep in touch with people you meet whilst studying overseas. They may well become very influential in the future.
- Get involved with your host university community by participating in social and professional clubs.
- Speak to as many people as possible - this can change your whole perspective on your career.
You should use this exchange experience as a means to set yourself apart from other job applicants once you return. Employers look favourably upon students who have experienced an exchange as it demonstrates independence, adaptability, cultural knowledge and an ability to work in a global environment. Visit the University of Adelaide Careers Service when you return to assist you in maximising these career benefits, and be sure to register at the CareerHub for job opportunities.
- Support While You Are Overseas
Being in a foreign environment can be quite emotionally challenging and it can sometimes be difficult. It is important to be aware of the support services available to you. We strongly encourage students to contact the relevant support services available if they are struggling overseas.
The University of Adelaide offers a professional and confidential Counselling Service to assist with any stress, anxiety, confusion and adjustment issues you may be experiencing while you are overseas. There is also the UniThrive website and app with information on how to improve your wellbeing, overcome problems, have fun and boost your performance at University.
Visit the international centre at your host university to find information on help from counselling services, or similar support.
Don't forget that you are welcome to contact Global Learning at any time (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- What Else Can I Do?
Remember to take lots of photos to enter in Global Learning's annual photo competition. If you use Instagram, remember to tag us in them (#uaglobal)!
You may have noticed a questionnaire in your GLAS application that allows you to submit content to us to be published. If you are a budding blogger or videographer, please share your experiences with the Global Learning community by submitting this questionnaire with links to your work.
Keep in touch with Global Learning and other University of Adelaide students currently on exchange by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to share your experiences while you're at it!
Please contact the Global Learning Office for further assistance.