It’s almost three months since I came to Australia in the pursuit of higher studies from the ANU. When I left Pakistan I thought I had it all figured out but…
8 months back my parents, relatives and friends all had me going about meeting people who are currently living or studying in Australia just so that I could get an insight as to how different the environment is and how to go about adjusting in a totally unfamiliar place. I had met with quite a few people and heard their experiences but these were people who had actually survived the trials, these were all stories of success. There are quite a handful of students who aren’t able to continue with their studies for perhaps one reason or another but the main reason is why they aren’t able to is because they simply don’t have a plan to begin with. At times its just the fascination of the thought that you actually have the opportunity of experiencing something extraordinary that has you fueled for the journey but halfway through you find yourself short of the stuff that had you up and running. The people who already have been through this (success stories) are just too well oiled a part of the system that at times they just communicate their experiences as it were just a walk in the park. I do not blame them because things just tend to get easier as time passes on. You start to figure out things but what about the initial phase?
I consider this article as a social obligation, it might sound a bit over dramatic but truly it falls nothing short of it. I consider myself as lying somewhere in “adjusting-part of the system” phase and I believe people will get to learn from my mistakes so
• Make sure that you know what your purpose of studying abroad actually is; you can go ahead tell others whatever you want but make sure you are aware as to what your objectives are. If you are looking for something long term such as work or immigration then make sure that you are not cutting any corners. Immigration laws keep on changing no matter what place you are and if you are cutting corners you might end up getting lost. I have met people who have not spared the elbow grease and worked their backs of for years just to have their immigration applications cancelled just because they cut corners to begin with, so avoid at all costs.
• Plan and arrange for everything as much as possible, the primary concern being your accommodation. There is a lot the internet and people cannot tell you as everyone has a different experience about stuff but make sure you have your bases covered before you actually make your journey. People who have relatives or friends where they have chosen to study are to an extent covered but for the rest who are venturing into a completely alien territory make sure that you have made proper accommodation arrangements beforehand or you are quite likely to head back home sooner than expected. (we can also refer to this as ‘pulling a Dawood’)
• One more concern that people have is regarding food and more precisely ‘Halal’ food. Unless your university or institute is located on some remote island in the middle of nowhere you don’t really need to worry about it, true it takes time to get around and figure out from where to get what but essentially this area is covered for the most part. If there is anyone who contradicts this please let us know so that we can prevent some innocent people from making a stupid mistake and selecting the same place that you chose to study.
• If you are not on a scholarship then make sure your finances are covered for, if you are already worried from the beginning and are concerned that you need to work from day one then seriously reconsider your options. Some people are lucky enough to find work as soon as they arrive while others are not that lucky, so be prepared for it. Also if you are looking forward to not only pay of your living expenses but also your studies then make sure you have selected a university/institute that is not as much demanding.
• Stone cold as you may think you are you will feel alienated and lost at times and that is part of the adjusting process. The only way to alleviate this feeling is by keeping yourself occupied and going about exploring the environment and meeting new people. It does not completely get rid of the alienation but it makes it so much bearable during that adjusting phase. You are bound to do some stupid stuff so don’t worry about it I have my own personal list titled “my stupid-ness during the adjusting phase”.
• The whole article has been about studies but not a single mention about the actual studies. Studies are not that different apart from the fact that they barely teach you. The pattern is similar if not the same but requires a lot of effort on your part, perhaps it’s what you should expect from masters. They push you to think outside the box but there is no box to begin with and during the exams this thing really shows, they teach you one thing and ask you something quite different altogether (yes I had a bad exam). I discussed my case with one of my colleagues who has been at the ANU for over a year and this is what he had to say “Welcome to Masters. Welcome to the ANU”
This is about it for the moment, perhaps I’ll add to this article. Also I would request other Texperts who are abroad to share their experiences so as to add more breadth to the topic itself. Till then Cheers 🙂