It wasn’t until I got here that I learned how much easier things are for any international student if you already know someone that lives in the city
I am originally from Spain, but I studied in England for 2 years before doing an internship in Amsterdam for 6 months. After finishing uni, I decided to start my Masters on the other side of the world; in Melbourne, Australia. I had already studied abroad before, and nowadays you can find every piece of information you want on the internet, so I thought it would be pretty easy to sort things out and start my new life.
It wasn’t until I arrived that I learned how much easier things are if you already know someone that lives in the city. Finding accommodation in Melbourne can be very tricky, as there are a lot of students looking for a house and not that many available. Also, when I started to look for a job in hospitality, I realised a lot of restaurants didn’t want to hire international students. I had been in Melbourne for 2 weeks and I didn’t have a room or a job, and I was still living in a hostel.
One day, an old friend from high school messaged me and told me he had seen on Facebook that I was living in Melbourne now. He told me he had a good friend, Paula, who had been living in Melbourne for a couple months. I decided to message Paula, to ask her for all types of recommendations. We met up and she showed me all around the city and introduced me to so many people she knew – I felt like I was home again! We went for a beer with one of her friends who was going to study abroad, and it turned out she needed to find someone to sublet her room. I told her I was really interested and went to see the house. After meeting all the housemates and getting along really well with them, they offered me the room!!
I couldn’t believe I had finally found a place to live in Melbourne! My new housemates, who were both local and international students, gave me really good advice on how and where to find a job in hospitality. I had initially assumed that, as I had experience living abroad and that English wasn’t a barrier for me, I was going to find my way around the city with ease! It hadn’t turned out that way, but getting to know Paula and her friends made my experience so much better.
These are a couple things I would have liked to have known before moving to Melbourne (if I had had a friend or a friend’s friend living here).
First of all, the weather in Melbourne changes more than four times per day. It isn’t called the “four seasons in one day city” for no reason. Really, it can be 33 degrees and sunny and two minutes later you are caught in a thunderstorm.
Also, it isn’t as expensive as everyone thinks. It’s true that Australia is known to be expensive for international students, especially compared to South América, Southeast Asia or many European countries. However, once you get to know the city, you can always find bars with happy hours or stores with student discounts. There is a huge market in the middle of the city called Victoria Market, and if you go there an hour or so before it closes, you will find food for less that half the price of its original price.
Melbourne is a great city for international students. There is always some type of gig, music festival or beach event going on, so you will never feel like you have nothing to do in this city.