Living in Australia

The Essentials

These two compulsory workshops are designed to help you make a smooth transition to life in Brisbane and studying at UQ:

Find all international student workshops


  • Adjusting to Australian culture

    Welcome to Australia! Whether this is your first time abroad or you’re a seasoned traveller making a new home, starting university in a new country is a time of great change.

    Embrace Australian culture

    It's important to remember that it's natural to need time to adjust to a new culture. To help you get more accustom to Australia, we offer an Australian Culture workshop for an introduction to local culture, customs and slang. 

    If you are unsure about an aspect of Australian culture, feel free to ask a local.  Most people are more than happy to answer your questions.

    Make new friends

    Building a strong local support network will pay dividends both in personal growth and in adjusting to the new cultural setting. 

    The best way to meet new people is to join groups or activities that you are interested in. UQ has hundreds of student clubs and societies as well as events, sports teamssocial groups and volunteering opportunities so you can meet like-minded people. 

    Coping with culture shock

    In your first few weeks and months in a new country, it's common to experience some degree of culture shock. You will notice differences between the way things are done and what you are used to at home.

    Common signs that you may be experiencing culture shock include anxiety and loneliness, missing family and friends, avoiding people, unable to eat, problems sleeping, tiredness and disorganisation. Remember, culture shock is a completely normal response to some big changes in your life and there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself settle in.

    Tips to help you relax include:

    • staying in contact with family and friends
    • talking to international students for support
    • joining a student club or society
    • using the English language as much as possible
    • taking advantage of UQ Student Services and orientation activities
    • introducing yourself to people around you, especially students in your courses
    • don't be afraid to ask questions
    • getting plenty of exercise, eat well, and drink plenty of water.

    Overall, thinking positively, being willing to learn, and maintaining an open mind and light-hearted attitude will make every day a bit easier. But don’t forget to allow yourself sufficient time to adjust.

  • Health and safety

    Australia is generally a very safe place to live and study, but it is still important to look after yourself and be aware of the risks that exist. If you are an international student you need to attend one of our Health and Safety workshops.

    Key safety contacts include:

    Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

    Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is compulsory insurance that helps international students meet the cost of any medical and hospital care they may need while in Australia. OSHC also provides limited benefits for pharmaceuticals and ambulance services. The insurance will only cover you from the time you arrive in Australia – you will need additional travel insurance while you are in transit.

    For questions regarding your specific Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), you must contact your OSHC provider: 

    • Allianz: A help desk located at the St Lucia campus Student Centre (Building 61)
    • BUPA: BUPA Centres are located in Brisbane City and Indooroopilly.
    • NIB: The NIB Brisbane office is located in the city.
    • Medibank: The nearest Medibank store is located in the city.
    • Australian Health Management

    Beach safety

    Queensland’s beautiful beaches are famous across the world, but it’s important to recognise they can be a dangerous place at times. On average 4 tourists or migrants drown each year on Queensland beaches.

    Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) conduct Beach Safety sessions during Orientation Week to keep you safe at the beach and amongst the waves.  During these sessions, SLSQ will provide you with vital safety information to raise awareness on how to protect yourself and others.  

    Driving and cycling

    Anytime you drive it is your responsibility to have the correct legal driver’s licence and to abide by the Queensland road rules. Please be aware that cyclists must also abide by the Queensland road rules.

    If you hold a current licence from your home country, you may be able to drive legally for the duration of your study period. If the licence is not in English, you also need to carry an International Driving Permit or a recognised translation of your licence. You can obtain these from your home country. Any restrictions on your home country licence must be observed in Australia.

    If you are planning on cycling around Brisbane, make sure you use a helmet (it is the law), use the Brisbane City Council’s website to plan your route safely, and take the time to explore the beautiful bikeways that Brisbane has to offer.

  • Budgeting and work


    We encourage you to attend our Living on a Student Budget workshop and our Eating Well on a Budget workshop (AKA 'There's more to Life than Two Minute Noodles!') to help you cope with the costs of living as a student in Australia.

    You may also have some questions regarding paying fees and living costs.  If you cannot pay your fees or are in a difficult situation, please book an appointment to speak with an International Student Advisor.

    We can discuss with you:

    • How to search for scholarship options
    • Visa work conditions
    • Referral for career advice (assistance with job searching, resumes and interviews)
    • Basic budgeting skills and tips

    You can also see a Student Help on Campus (SHOC) Welfare Advocate for financial assistance, to discuss financial concerns and ways to improve your situation. SHOC can also provide small loans and access to an emergency food pantry. 

    Working in Australia

    For most international students a student visa allows you to work while studying in Australia.

    To find out about your visa limitations, how to obtain a Tax File Number (TFN), where to find student-friendly jobs, and about our taxation system you can attend our Working on a Student Visa workshop or look at our Frequently Asked Questions

    If you are looking for a job, UQ's Student Employability Centre has resources that can help you demonstrate to prospective employers you are a strong applicant including:

    To help you understand your rights when working in Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman has provided information in 30 different languages.


Things to do in Brisbane

Sports and recreation

Brisbane offers an extensive range of activities for energetic bodies and minds.

Nature and wildlife

South-East Queensland has some of the world's most distinctive and diverse natural landscapes and iconic wildlife.

Image courtesy of Brisbane Marketing


With Brisbane’s rapidly growing food scene you'll be able to find cuisine from most parts of the world. 

Other helpful resources