a short guide to preparation

My last blogpost was perhaps rather personal. This time I am hoping to fulfill my role as a Study Abroad Student Ambassador by giving some helpful advice and consultation.
There are a few things that should be on everybody’s list when laying the groundworks for going on exchange. I will try to draw from my experience in order to illuminate a few areas of concern.
They might not be relevant to you. They might not even be correct. They result only from my personal experience going to Australia.

Insurance: Being insured abroad is certainly convenient, especially when you have the tendency to take in every virus you inhale and brake every cup you embrace. You wouldn’t want to damage anything you can’t afford to replace. Check if you have indemnity or liability insurance for abroad, they usually aren’t too expensive. You will walk the streets of your new home with a lot more confidence knowing that your puissant ineptitude will not cause you a lifetime of debt.
Apart from that you will of course need Health Insurance, not just because you callowly exclaimed your declared aim to be to “try everything during your year abroad”, but also because the University makes this mandatory.
The Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) will be what you want and with $666 it is relatively cheap. Uni Melb has a direct arrangement with Allianz. I suggest you simply stick with that as other providers aren’t cheaper but definitely less convenient.
The confirmation of your payment at Allianz will be sent directly to the University who can they progress with your application for enrollment. I was quite distressed when I received no form of confirmation or receipt after my payment, but the University seems to have all information on my health insurance. How I myself will make use of it though, I don’t know yet.
After buying that insurance, what you will be able to receive is a Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE), a document, but basically just a number, that you need for your

Visa: Because I couldn’t actually start the application until I finally got the CoE, I was quite concerned if it would arrive in time at all. Don’t worry. The whole application is done online, takes 30 minutes and is processed in a day. It might take three but as it’s all digital you wait for no postage and can just turn up at the airport with your passport. Unless you have lived somewhere “dangerous” (Glasgow doesn’t count) in the past 5 years for more than 3 consecutive months. If that’s the case, you’ll have to do a medical examination. Which is a certified doctor that will examine your breath and reflexes for 5 minutes and then asking a hundred quid for it. But even the results of the medical check-up are directly transmitted to the visa office, you don’t have to do a thing.
There is hardly anything that could go wrong with your visa, as long as you apply for a start-date before your flight you will have no problems at the airport.
My visa was issued immediately and lasts for a whole year with multiple entries possible.
So even if you don’t have your visa yet, book a

flight early. Really, go ahead and book as early as possible. Why not now. You will save a considerable amount of money booking early and it might give you a better time frame to get your preparation done as well.
I know, you will hear the advice to do nothing until you have a visa secured. Nothing before you got an official enrollment confirmation from your University. But the Unis never turn people down who are chosen by their partners. Unless of course, you don’t make it into honours there is no way you won’t be accepted or couldn’t get a visa! My advice, book early, and perhaps buy a travel cancellation insurance, just in case. This way canceling the flight won’t hurt too badly and you will still fly cheaper than last minute.
I, of course, did none of these things.
When you chose your flight, don’t just click on the cheapest. It’s a long flight to Australia and you might not want to protract it non-germanely. Or perhaps you want to do the contrary and treat yourself to a day in Dubai or Delhi on the way.
Also: check your airlines luggage allowance. I flew Air India, which only grants you 20kg. Emirates currently allows 30kg and British Airways is best for additional bags (even a bike would only be treated as an extra bag for £60, a price that other airlines charge for about 2.5kg extra). Having said that, I admonish you not to exceed your luggage allowance. Remind yourself: you will have to carry it all through the streets of your new home. Perhaps more than once. It might not seem heavy or spacious at first, but this impression is treacherous! Make sure you can carry everything you have comfortably; buy more stuff when you’re there instead of moving your entire wardrobe. This is a very long holiday, no migration.

Housing: The final point on our list. You might be eyeballing with student housing, which is hassle-free and a good place to meet people. However, you could just as well withdraw all the necessary capital in coins and build a five-floor high, copper glittering mansion with drawbridge and astronomy tower. Even if your on a budget this might still be an option, if you find a currency with bigger coins and a weak trading rate towards the pound.
Otherwise it is best to try and find a house share to join. Prices will differ from estate to estate and neighbourhood to neighbourhood, but it is possible to find a more than decent place for between $400 and $600 pm. The best place to look is gumtree. Far more difficult however, is to get the room. I probably sent 30 requests before coming to Melbourne and not a single one replied. I am currently in a hostel, trying to figure out housing from here, but once you are on ground and have a phone number to call people up and arrange viewings, it gets much easier. So don’t worry all too much if you haven’t secured housing quite yet before you leave.

Any questions about visas, flights and preparation? Send me an email at 2039604w@student.gla.ac.uk
Or check out my blog for more: oneyearmelbourne.wordpress.com

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