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8 things to prepare before your first day of university

Prepare now so you can hit the ground running

Young international student wearing glasses and smiling
Young international student wearing glasses and smiling

So, you’ve made it to Australia and are about to kick-start your studies.

Along with attending orientation week, there are a few things to organise that’ll help you hit the ground running. We’ve put together a list of things to prepare so that you’ll feel ready for your first day at university.

1. Get a phone and set up your banking

Is it your first time in Australia? You’ll need to get a SIM card and select a mobile plan that suits your needs. You can purchase a SIM card directly at a retail store or through a range of outlets, such as post offices and supermarkets. Alternatively, you can order a SIM card online and have it delivered.

You’ll also need to open a bank account. Ask the bank a few key questions - like which ATMs you can use for free and whether there are fees involved in advance. It’s a good idea to choose a bank with an ATM near you or on campus for convenience. Some banks will allow you to set up an account before you arrive to fast-track the process. Enquire with them directly to see if this is an option.

Having an Australian phone and bank account is crucial to setting yourself up. Service providers, such as your university or TAFE and health insurance provider, will require your new Australian phone number and banking details. This is so they can contact you easily, you can pay fees, and you can make claims on your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

With nib, you can use the nib App to easily update your personal details, which means you can make claims instantly! Plus, you can access your digital membership card on your phone and use Find a Provider to find healthcare professionals near you (or book a telehealth consultation from the comfort of your home!).

2. Get a student card and transport card

You’re officially a student in Australia! So, make sure to grab your student card at your university's student hub or help desk. Each university’s student card will be different, but generally, it can be used to help you access your campus after-hours and allows you to borrow books from the library.

A student card can also help you access discounts at events, stores and businesses across Australia. For example, cinemas will often offer student or concession discounts on tickets - you’ll just need to show a valid student card when booking.

Next, you can get a transport card. These can usually be purchased from large public transport stations or at a newsagent. Each state and territory in Australia will have a different transport card system, so head online and do some research to find out what’s available in your new city. Depending on the state or territory, you might also be eligible for a student/concession discount on public transport.

3. Orientate yourself around campus

Classes are often held in different buildings throughout the campus, so to avoid getting
lost on your first day, it’s a good idea to join a campus tour. Visiting the locations of your classes before the first day can also help you get your bearings before your semester begins. You could discover shortcuts to save you time as you move between classes – always a good thing for those early morning lectures!

Work out your commute beforehand so you know you’ll make it on time, and plan to reach your classes a little bit earlier on your first day. Public transport in Australia is usually reliable, but giving yourself extra time to get to where you need to be will mean you’re not stressed or rushing.

Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for quiet study nooks and eateries or coffee shops you can utilise in the future.

4. Plan and prepare

Once you’ve enrolled in your classes, you’ll receive details of the course and its lecturers and tutors – as well as a timetable. Go through this information before the first day and check for any prerequisite tasks, like any readings you will need to do or textbooks you have to buy. You should also check with your university to see if there are any COVID-19 regulations, such as mask rules, you will need to follow.

Create a schedule for the week and don’t forget to make time for relaxing and socialising while you juggle university commitments!

5. Check all essential services provided by your uni

There are plenty of university services that you can access as a student - most of them are free! These range from library guides and technology support to health, wellbeing and study support (including help with English and Maths). There may also be sports facilities, like a swimming pool or gym, that you can access.

Get your email account set up and all relevant software installed before classes begin, so you’re ready to dive into your studies.

6. Shop for stationary and technology

Put simply, a notebook, highlighter and pen are all you’ll probably need for your first day. If you prefer to take notes on your laptop, have one ready and pack a charger so you don’t run out of battery halfway through your second class! You’ll want to ensure your charger is appropriate for Australian power outlets.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a planner, whether it’s a physical diary or an app. You may be informed of course deadlines and exam dates on your first day, so keeping track of them will help you plan your year.

nib members can visit nib Rewards to receive discounts at some of the country’s biggest retailers, including MYER, Kmart and Big W. Alternatively, you can ask your university if they offer free or discounted access to specific software.

7. Don't forget the little things

The night before your first day, we recommend…

  • Packing your first day essentials in your bag

  • Having your lunch and snacks prepared

  • Charging your devices

  • Getting your outfit ready

  • Setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you think you’ll need

  • Having a good night’s rest

8. Explore

Now that you’re packed and ready for your first day at university, be sure to explore your new city or neighbourhood. It’s never too early to get to know your new home better!