Once you get here:
Get a SIM card for an Australian number
SIM cards abroad are fairly cheap. Global plans through your home service tend to be garbage with service. I bought a pre-paid sim through ‘Optus’ for $30. That gives you 3gb of data and unlimited calls and texting for 28 days (the month). Sims can be recharged and data usage can be tracked right through the Optus app. They’re other companies that also have pre-paid sims; such as Vodafone, Amaysim, and Boost. I’m sure there are more, those seem to be the most common.
If you are going to UON they actually sell the sims on campus. Plus the campus has wifi available everywhere, so if you are on campus you won’t use to much data. Sims are also available at any grocery store.
Tip: Make sure your phone is unlocked!!!! I thought I bought an unlocked I Phone through AT&T, but turns out the phone is not officially unlocked until you are done making phone payments. Luckily I only had $120 left to pay, but due to the complication of that I had to sit on the phone forever then wait 48 hrs for my official unlocking to happen so I could use my new sim. Getting around without a phone and trying to find some where to live is not easy without a phone. So double check, then triple check.
2. Open a bank account
You will need to open a bank account for when you get here. An Australian bank is almost the only way you can pay rent at both the University and Off-campus living. Luckily UON has a bank right on campus, ‘Commonwealth Bank’. You can get set up easily and call your bank back home to transfer money in.
Tip: All of Australia now uses ‘Pay Pass’ and all of our American Cards make you sign for purchases. Australia is not used to this so buying anything took so much confusion. Luckily I found out that once I set up Apple pay on my phone it wouldn’t make me sign for any of my cards and let me use self check out.
3. Walk around University and familiarize yourself
Go to the student accommodation weather you live on or off campus. They are overly helpful and will tell you where to go in order to get set up with a student ID , and accommodation struggles, and basically anything you need. Their staff even took a me to the grocery store to get everything I needed. SO HELPFUL! So take advantage of the help, it made life in the first week so much smoother then some others I have talked to.
The university has 2 bike-hubs on campus. These are places you can rent donated bicycles for the semester for basically free. You pay 60 dollars, choose a bike and a helmet and once you return it at the end of the semester you get your 60 dollars back. It’s great, I wish my home university did something like this.
5. Get to know campus clubs and groups
Clubs and activities were a great way to meet people at the University. You didn’t even have to go to meeting or anything, it was basically sign up for an event and show up. I was able to go to a Aussie Bush Camp, Sydney Harbor boat cruise, Wine tasting, and so much more that I didn’t even think I would be able to make time for.
Clubs to look into:
University of Newcastle International student community :
This group is for international students at the University of Newcastle, Australia. https://www.facebook.com/groups/UONsem1/
Student run University club affiliated with the University of Newcastle, that aims to provide a social platform to enable both International Students and Domestic s
udents to connect with one another. https://www.facebook.com/groups/639171419551938/
The University of Newcastle’s International Leadership Experience and Development (iLEAD) Plus Program is an extra-curricular Leadership Program that enables you to participate in additional activities on top of your regular degree studies. It gives you the opportunity to build skills in the areas of leadership, international awareness, social responsibility and employability. https://www.facebook.com/ilead/?fref=ts