13 Things Singaporeans Must Know Before Studying in Australia

Your Survival Guide to Uni Life in Australia

Source, Source

For the lot of you reading this, let me first say: you’ve finally completed the laborious drudgery that is tertiary education, good on ya, mate! This brings you one step closer to the sweet smell of financial freedom and adulthood, but first – University.

If you’ve set your sights on an international education in the land down under, then you’re in for a first-class treat. From deciphering the mind-boggling Aussie lingo to smashing through student life on the cheap, we bring you the guide of all guides to help you settle right into life as an international undergrad.

1. Shave as much as 1.5 years off your course duration


Choosing the practical path of a diploma might not have earned you the much favour in the eyes of your folks, but your time to shine has finally come. Pursuing a degree in the same vein as your choice of study back in polytechnic allows you to shave up to 1.5 years off your total duration in school.

A win-win scenario for those torn between an overseas experience and easing your family’s financial load. While the requirements vary from university to university, this is one sure way to speed up your education and get you ready for the working world in no time.

2. Not all states in Australia are created equal

Sydney, Melbourne, Perth Source, Source, Source

The hustle of the city is all we know in this concrete jungle we call home, but Australia is a world of possibility just waiting to be discovered. Rub shoulders with the high-rollers of the world in financial boomtown, Sydney; find your creative calling in hipster capital, Melbourne; or revel in your love for the wild in the expansive dreamscape they call Perth.

With 35 Australian universities standing tall on the 2016 edition of the QS World University Rankings®, wherever it is you choose to go, quality education will follow. Alternatively, go the traditional route and choose a school on the basis of specialisation. 

The University of Sydney is listed as the best school in the country for budding veterinarians, RMIT University in Melbourne for the right-brain thinkers who live and breathe Art & Design, and Australian National University in Canberra for the computer science whizzes.

3. Aim to get as many Ds as possible


Forget all you know about grading systems. In the land of Oz, it’s the D that counts. And by that, we mean Distinction (D). Australian universities are breaking education norms and confusing the heck out of our ‘tiger’ parents, and we’re all for it!


Good luck explaining to them that HD doesn’t mean High Definition, but the highest of all honours known to undergraduates – the High Distinction (HD). And even if you mess up, your poor performance will be conveniently disguised with a Credit (C) and a Pass (P), over a horrifyingly sub par B and C.

And if you fail, you’ll get N – no comment.

4. Stay in hall for the first semester to make friends


Be thankful for the opportunity to have aged alongside the same classmates for the last 2-3 years, because university is no playground. The freedom to tailor your university education to a T also means limited face time with your various classmates. That’s why living in hall plays an integral part in the friend-making department.

From battling it out in epic college-to-college lip dub challenges and getting dressed to the nines for social nights to camping out in the common areas all study-week long – the endless lineup of social activities planned all year round will ensure there’s never a dull moment living in hall.

Once you’ve established your social repertoire and planted your feet firmly on the ground, feel free to spread your wings and relocate further from campus. Extra dollars can be saved that way.

5. Don’t buy textbooks at retail prices – they cost over $100 each!


Beg, borrow or steal – whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of throwing money away buying brand new textbooks. Put your innate kiasu-ism to good use and hit up the secondhand bookstore on your campus or buy them off gumtree, these are books you’ll only need for a couple of months. 

And if luck is on your side, you might even score one with great exam tips and study notes on the side a la the Half Blooded Prince’s Advanced Potion Making book.

6. Stock up on cold wear – Winter is coming


Don’t be fooled by all the sun sand and sea commonly featured in all of Visit Australia’s billboard and TV ads, winter will come, and it’ll come with a vengeance. Unless you’re safe and toasty all the way up in Darwin, you’re not going to be able to escape the Australian winters.

Stock up on heated mattresses, standing heaters, heat packs… whatever it takes to keep you from going into hypothermia. Once in a blue moon, freak hailstorms might rear their ugly face, but fret not, it’s not as bad as it sounds – unless you’ve parked in the open.


That being said, some stores do start their winter sales early and actually have weather-appropriate clothing, so you’re pretty much covered. We recommend Kmart, Big W, and The Reject Shop for life-saving fleece essentials on the cheap!

7. You might not want to drink from the tap


Though government bodies will tell you that tap water is perfectly safe for drinking, Aussies all over the country are taking precautions. That’s the reason why you’ll see an entire aisle dedicated to water filters in Coles and Woolies.

We’ve heard rumours that the taste of tap water varies from state to state, but we’ll leave it up to you to consume it at your own discretion. All we know is, investing in a filtered water jug doesn’t hurt. Better to be safe than sorry!

8. Part-time jobs pay you at least $17 AUD per hour

Bid a painful farewell to your $3 plates of chicken rice and laksa, because you’ll be missing them – A LOT. Living in Australia is no cheap affair. Ramped up weekly rent, expensive groceries, and the cost of meals in cafes and restaurants will make any thrifty Asian’s nose bleed.

Unless you’re one of those golden children born with a silver spoon in their mouths, you’ll be well off getting yourself one of those part-time jobs. Thanks to the minimum wage law in place, you’ll be paid a minimum of $17 AUD per hour and more if you’re above the age of 21.

Take that multiplied by the 40 hours/fortnight international students are allowed to clock in, and you have an additional income of $340 weekly that can go into offsetting your rent and living expenses.

9. You’re going to miss SG’s public transport system


There’s nothing like a jolt of reality to help us appreciate the little things we’ve been taking for granted all along. If you’ve ever been one to complain about the price of public transport and taxis back home, be prepared to fork out at least $3-4 AUD per one-way journey!

The world atlas lies – that’s how big Australia really is Source

Plus, unless you’re living in tram-ville – we mean Melbourne – a 15-30 minute wait for the bus or train is just part and parcel of daily life, and no amount of complaining is going to change that. Gear up for a ton of walking as well because the country is ridiculously spread out!

10. It helps to stay near a 24-hour mart


Bracing yourself for the culture shock is one thing, bracing yourself for the fact that almost all shops close at 5PM is another. People scurry back to their homes before sundown and don’t resurface till day breaks. No, the ghouls don’t come out at night – them Aussies just love their down time.


This teaches you 2 things: proper planning, and a whole lot of patience. Thank God for more 24-hour IGAs springing into existence.

11. Yes, Australian is a language on its own


In Australia:

“I’ll need to drop by the servo for a sanga after footy, but let’s catch up in the arvo over bangers at the barbie! Don’t forget to drop by the bottlo and pick up a slab for me, mate!”

Everywhere else in the world:    

“I’ll need to drop by the service station for a sandwich after football, but let’s catch up in the afternoon over sausages at the barbeque! Don’t forget to drop by the bottle shop and pick up a 24-pack of beer for me!”

The challenges you’ll face at uni can hardly compare to the amount of work you’ll have to put in deciphering the Gordian knot that is the Aussie slang. We can only imagine what foreigners face trying to understand us in our Singlish element.

Don’t let the jibber-jabber intimidate you! With all the advanced slang guides out there, you’ll be slaying it in no time.

12. You can get a second-hand car for around S$3,000


Thankfully for us, if there’s one thing that’s actually reasonably priced in Australia, it’s their cars. Brand new and used car dealerships in Australia are a dime a dozen, and on top of that, there are hundreds more individuals on a mission to bypass the middleman and score a better deal.

Reputable car makes like the Mazda 2 go for under $15,000 AUD brand new, whilst a second-hand car in mint condition can go for as low as $3,000 AUD  – no strings attached. What is COE again?

You’ll even be able to fetch a reasonable amount for the car should you decide to sell it once your degree is complete! Freak deals with cars going for less than $1,000 also exist on Gumtree, but we all know that’s not going to get you very far. 

It’ll also be the only time you won’t have to fork out half of your life savings just to enjoy an added convenience, so enjoy it while it lasts!

13. You’ll be too blessed to be stressed

Bondi coastal walk, Sydney Source

If the kind of ‘lepak’ you’re used to now consists of a slow stroll down Orchard road, it’s time you rekindle your love for nature. Welcome to the land of perpetual crisp, fresh air; skies of the bluest blue; and beaches that put Bali to shame.

It’s almost impossible to be bogged down by the pressure of school when your backyard looks like this: 

Sugar Loaf Rock, Perth Source


Studying in Australia


Even if you’re dreading the move away from your family and friends, it’s impossible not to fall in love Australia and all its beauty while you’re there. From breaking out of your social cocoon to maturing to be an independent young adult, no amount of advice can prepare for the adventure you’re about the embark on as an overseas undergrad.

If you’re all psyched up but have been delaying your applications due to the groundbreaking amount of paperwork that’s required, here’s a piece of good news – you can get help with all of that for no charge at all!

About AUG

As an established and renowned educational consulting company, AUG (AusEd UniEd Group) specialises in helping students find, apply, and settle into the universities of their choice through direct liaison with the institutions.

So instead of worrying about the different clauses hidden in your application request form, leave it to the professional and ethical advisors at AUG to handle everything from your course options, student visa, and lodging application, to even facilitating the booking your flight and arranging for an airport pickup.

And if you’re having trouble discerning which Australian banks provides the best interest and will serve you best, AUG advisors can even assist you with the opening of a bank account ahead of time so you’ll be all set up when you touch down. They’ve also partnered with a remittance company to provide students with a cost-efficient option of transferring money over.

Well-versed in the code of overseas education regulation and admission requirements not only in Australia but in the UK, USA, Ireland, and Malaysia; AUG even provides comprehensive education fairs to equip you with all the deets for a smooth transition into life as an undergrad in a new country.

Find out more about AUG’s services here!

This post was brought to you by AUG.

Kimberly Lauren Wong

A seemingly normal girl with the appetite of a baby T-Rex and a penchant for all things bohemian. Perpetually in pursuit of the best vanilla chai latte in town, you'll find her huddled in a quaint cafe with a book or fountain pen in hand, inking her way through stacks of paper perfecting the alphabet.

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