Live, work and travel in Australia
You’re going to love living in Australia, but moving to a foreign country means adapting to different laws, cultures and ways of doing things. We’re here to help.
We’ve put together information to make the transition a lot easier. We’ll give you tips on basic living costs, how to get around and even how to find a part-time job while you're studying.
Food in Australia
You’ll be able to find food from all over the world in Australia, including Asian and Indian supermarkets selling traditional ingredients.
And if you don’t cook, don’t worry – we have great food on campus (including vegetarian, vegan and halal options).
Indigenous spiritual sites
Indigenous people have lived in Australia for tens of thousands of years. Many of Australia’s beautiful natural places are also important Indigenous spiritual sites. If you’re visiting any of these sites, please be respectful and observe local customs.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to see our unique wildlife while you’re here – whether it’s a visit to a zoo or sanctuary or time spent exploring our great wilderness. If you do see animals in the wild, it’s very important not to touch or approach them.
Some of our snakes and spiders are venomous – that means they could make you sick if you’re bitten. They mostly live in bushland, but you might occasionally see a spider in a house or outdoors. Make sure you wear protective footwear if you go bushwalking and stick to designated walking tracks.
While most of Australia is hot and dry, our coastal areas (including Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool) can be cold between May and September.
You'll need light clothes for summer and will need to look after yourself on hot days by drinking plenty of water, wearing SPF30+ sunscreen and a hat. In winter you'll need a warm coat.
Melbourne in particular is famous for its quick change of weather in a single day – it's a good idea to have an umbrella in your bag and wear layers when you go out.
You can find out more information on Australia's climate, including weather forecasts, from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Religion in Australia
Australia is home to many different religions and we have churches, mosques and spiritual centres in cities and towns all over the country.
We're also proud to have prayer rooms and multifaith chaplains at each of our campuses. You don’t need to be religious to talk to a chaplain – they offer advice and guidance to all our students.
Getting ready to study in Australia
Flying to Australia
When booking your flight to Melbourne – MEL (our international airport), we recommend you arrive at least a week or two before our International Student Welcome session.
That way you’ll have plenty of time to acclimatise, settle in and see a bit of the city and surrounding areas before starting at Deakin.
If you're visiting another Australian city before Melbourne, you’ll probably still arrive at Melbourne International Airport, but at one of its domestic terminals.
There’s a second, smaller domestic airport in Melbourne called Avalon Airport. This airport is actually closer to our two Geelong campuses and the Warnambool Campus. Currently this airport only services two routes – Sydney and the Gold Coast – on one airline.
We’re happy to pick you up from Melbourne International Airport. We offer a free airport pick-up service for all new international Deakin students.
All you need to do is complete an application form and let us know your arrival details.
Please include where you’ll be staying when you get here. It's just another way we welcome you to Deakin.
Note that you will need to submit a request at least three business days prior.
Student Welcome Desk at Melbourne Airport (provided by City of Melbourne)
Collect your free Student Welcome Pack containing all the information you need to help you settle in Melbourne.
Your student visa comes with a set of conditions regarding working, studying, health insurance and visa extensions. Please familiarise yourself with all these conditions to make sure you get the most out of your Australian study experience.
Bringing your family
Sharing your Deakin study experience with your family can be rewarding and life-changing for all of you.
It means you’ll be able to study and still have your loved ones close by. Your family will get to experience the Australian way of life.
If you’re married, or have a spouse and children, your student visa will generally let you bring your immediate family with you.
There are a few rules and regulations regarding your family accompanying you. Most importantly you must be able to support them financially.
Your school-age children will also have the opportunity to attend an Australian school while they are here.
What to bring with you
When you go through immigration and border security at Melbourne International Airport, you’ll be asked to show certain documents. Here’s a checklist of what you should have with you when you arrive:
- a valid passport (with at least six months until the expiry date) with your student visa
- your letter of offer from Deakin University
- your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) issued by Deakin
- proof of payments e.g. receipts for fees, your Overseas Student Healthcare Card, bank statement etc.
- insurance policies e.g. travel, health etc.
- original or certified copies of your academic transcripts and qualifications
- other identification e.g. birth certificate, driver’s licence etc.
- medical records and prescriptions (if applicable)
- a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) if you're under 18.
If you’re travelling with your family, keep all of your documents together in your carry-on luggage (not in your checked suitcase).
We also recommend that you photocopy all of your important documents and keep copies with you at all times (plus leave a copy with a family member or friend back home).
Bringing money into Australia
There are several ways you can bring your money into the country. Ideally you will have some cash on you, but we suggest that you don’t carry large amounts on you when you travel.
There are banks at the airport where you can exchange foreign currency, and several ATMs for withdrawing Australian dollars.
If you have a bank card or debit card with international functionality, it may be easier to keep your funds in your bank account at home and just withdraw cash as needed from ATMs.
You may also choose to use a credit card (with a PIN – signatures are no longer accepted in Australia), travellers’ cheques or international funds transfers.
Try to have at least $AUD1500–$2000 when you arrive to cover initial accommodation and living expenses for your first couple of weeks.
Mobile phones and computers
Taking a laptop with you? If your laptop is more than one year old, no problem. We recommend that you have proof of purchase (a receipt) with you.
If your computer is new and cost more than $AUD900, you may be subject to paying duty (importation tax). As a student, this is rarely the case, especially if you can prove that you intend to take the computer back out of the country when you leave.
When bringing a mobile phone, make sure that it’s 'unlocked' – not restricted to your home network. You can then purchase an Australian SIM card to insert into your phone. Most mobile phone companies in Australia will allow you to purchase a pre-paid SIM card, or you can sign up to a post-pay longer-term contract.
If you have any doubt as to whether your devices will work in Australia, please check with the Australian Communications and Media Authority for further information.
What clothes to pack
As you’ll be restricted by your baggage allowance, you’ll have to think carefully about what to pack.
Australia is generally a very casually dressed society. For university, you’ll generally be wearing comfortable, casual clothes, and business attire if you intend to work part time.
You’ll be able to purchase most things upon arrival in Australia but the price may be higher than in your own country.
Depending on which airline you’re flying to Melbourne with, the baggage allowance will vary.
It will also be different if you’re fortunate enough to be flying in premium economy, business or first class. We recommend that you check your airline’s website for details.
In general, economy-class passengers can check in one piece of luggage up to 30kg in weight. They can also have one carry-on piece up to 7kg, plus a handbag or laptop case.
If you’re flying domestically into Melbourne from another Australian city, the weight limit may be significantly lower (20kg), so please consider the restrictions when packing.
What to wear on the plane
On long-distance flights, it’s all about being comfortable. Depending where you are flying from, you might have to remove your belt and/or your shoes to go through security – so it may be easiest to wear slip-on shoes and no belt.
Airports can also be large places so make sure your shoes are good for walking long distances.
Planes tend to be a bit over air-conditioned, so bring an extra layer of clothing and socks to keep your feet warm.
Keep in mind what the weather will be when you arrive in Melbourne and dress accordingly.
You’ll probably find everything you need while you’re here. Despite this, there may be a few items that won’t be as common as back home.
Certain shaped pillows may not be available at every store. For example, bolster pillows, which are popular throughout Asia, aren’t used as much in Australia. You should be able to buy them at haberdashery and homewares stores like Spotlight, with outlets throughout Melbourne.
Traditional herbs and spices
Melbourne has a multicultural population made up of immigrants from more than 180 countries. Our supermarkets carry a wide selection of herbs and spices, plus the major chains (Woolworths and Coles) generally have a large international foods section.
Arriving in Australia
Going through customs
After you have collected your luggage from the baggage carousel, you need to pass through customs before exiting to the arrival hall.
You have the choice of going through the green lanes (nothing to declare) and the red lanes (something to declare).
If you’re in doubt about whether or not to declare an item, it is safer to declare it.
Luggage is X-rayed and checked by customs officers. Customs dogs also patrol the baggage area.
It’s always a good idea to have some Australian cash with you when you arrive.
You can also exchange currency at the airport. There are several ANZ banks and foreign exchange desks in Melbourne International Airport’s arrival hall and departure areas.
Once you’re in Melbourne, banks and foreign exchange outlets can all exchange your foreign currency or travellers' cheques.
You’ll find them located in shopping centres, post offices and retail areas.
Airport welcome desk
When you exit customs, you’ll be in the international arrivals hall. The Travellers' Information Service and the City of Melbourne’s Student Welcome Desk will be right in front of you.
Just look out for the large blue ‘i’ symbol. There you’ll find a friendly face, multilingual staff and plenty of information, including maps and brochures.
Other services provided include:
- help finding transport options from the airport to the city
- information on temporary accommodation options
- a student welcome pack, with a free sim card for your mobile phone .
If you’ve booked the Deakin free pick-up service, our driver will be there to meet you.
Travellers Information Service
International Arrivals Hall
Ground Floor, Terminal 2
Melbourne International Airport
+61 3 8326 3347
Open 7am to 12am, seven days a week
Keep in contact
Once you’ve arrived in Melbourne, you’ll want to let your friends and family know you’ve made it safely.
International phone cards are available at most convenience stores and they offer extremely cheap rates to overseas destinations (from 1 cent per minute).
Alternatively, there’s also free wi-fi in many locations throughout the city and numerous internet cafes.
Before you land
After a long flight, you may be tired, but it’s very important that you fill out the Incoming Passenger card correctly.
You’ll receive the orange card from your flight attendant before you land. If you have trouble understanding anything on the form, please ask for assistance.
You must tick YES if you’re carrying any food, animal products, wooden items or plant material.
Any food that you may have had with you for the flight can be thrown away in the quarantine bins once you land.
If you have currency with a value of more than $AUD10,000 with you, you need to declare it.
Customs and quarantine
We have strict quarantine laws in Australia. And for good reason. We try to protect the country from the importation of diseases and pests. Although you may think bringing some of your favourite foods from home is a good idea, there are several items that you’re not allowed to bring into Australia.
You must declare:
- any items made from wood, plant and animal material
- any fresh food or egg products even in powder form, including dried or packet food
- all food items (including cans, jars and processed foods).
If you don’t declare these items, you risk an on-the-spot fine or more significant penalties. Melbourne is a very multicultural city and products from most regions of the world are available here – even your favourite foods.