Being an international student at a university abroad is an experience of a life time. Here is a guide on how to make the most of it and get to know your new home - Murdoch and Perth.
Moving to a new country for university is a bold and potentially life-changing experience. Maybe you’re just in visualisation mode at the moment, wondering how everything will be, or perhaps you’ve already arrived on Western Australia’s shores. This will be a helpful guide, whatever stage you’re at.
What’s Perth and Murdoch like?
Let’s start with the basics. Here are some facts about your new home:
- It’s a relaxed city with a population of two million.
- It’s greener than you might think, with plenty of parks, native woodlands, and wildflowers.
- Our campus is in the southern suburbs with plenty of plants and trees, community hangout zones, and cafes to meet friends. It’s very comfortable and peaceful.
- Murdoch University campus sits on Aboriginal land and put a huge effort into preserving the natural bushland environment.
Sightseeing and discovering the city
One of the most exciting aspects of studying in a new city is exploring the sights, eateries, and quirky experiences that give each city its personality. You might like to explore:
- Popular websites and social media pages like Perth Is Ok! and The Urban List Perth.
- The Swan Valley wine region.
- Great beaches along the coast, including Cottesloe and City Beach.
- Food and boho culture in Fremantle.
- Sprawling Kings Park and Botanic Garden.
- The wildlife at Whiteman Park, Caversham Wildlife Park, AQWA, Perth Zoo, and aboard dolphin cruises.
- The newly upgraded WA Museum Boola Bardip.
- Northbridge, Leederville, Mount Lawley, and Subiaco for restaurants and nightclubs.
- Seaside entertainment precincts such as Hillarys Boat Harbour and Scarborough.
- Rottnest Island, riding around for the day, snorkelling, and meeting quokkas.
- Large community events such as Fringe World and the Perth Royal Show
- Outdoor cinemas, like the Community Cinema here at Murdoch!
- Outdoor retail markets and food truck nights are very popular and occur regularly.
- Large suburban shopping centres such as Carousel.
- The coffee shops and cafes. Western Australians love coffee and brunch!
Fitting in and finding friends
You might find yourself wondering if you'll make friends, fit in, and have fun - that's perfectly normal! You’re in good company on this journey, with literally thousands of international students in Perth and the locals being a multicultural bunch too. Murdoch is regarded highly as being friendly, down-to-earth, and a socially and culturally inclusive university, so you should feel welcome straight away.
For every person who has a knack for starting impromptu chats or thrives on meeting new people, there are just as many who are shy or find it awkward striking up a conversation. The best advice is to be yourself, to acknowledge and accept your thoughts and feelings without judgement, and remember that you are not alone in this experience.
Other tips for making friends:
- Do try and step out of your comfort zone if you can.
- Find people with common interests. Sports and hobbies are a great place to start, and the university has a whole range of clubs and societies.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a smile and eye contact.
- Ask open-ended questions (not questions where the only answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’).
- Make the first move towards friendship and ask a classmate to hang out. You could be pleasantly surprised and the other person may be relieved to have been asked.
- Ask the people you live with if they want to cook a big batch of food together or see if they want to have a picnic at a park or beach.
- Remember that it takes time. Even if you see someone else making friends on the very first day, that doesn’t mean you won’t make amazing friendships at a later stage.
- Have a read of How to fit in at uni (and still be yourself).
Experiencing a new culture
Experiencing a new culture is exciting, but it's also natural that some aspects might be a bit of a culture shock. To settle in and keep that feeling at bay, it might help to:
- Keep in regular touch with family and friends at home.
- Surround yourself with photos and familiar items.
- Buy items from your country / culture. For example, finding your favourite foods or drinks from back home might help ease homesickness a little.
- Chat with other international students or Murdoch’s student services about your experience.
- Try to be open-minded, and press on with getting involved in student life.
Make use of the support available to you
We are proud of our comprehensive student support system. There are a range of support services available, and an overview of everything you need to know as an international student. For more questions, feel free to contact us.