Preparing to Go
Welcome aboard this pre-departure guide from SCU international non-stop to your new study experience. Where the temperature is amazing and the cultural experience is whatever you choose. Sit back, relax and fasten your seatbelt and focus your attention to your screen in a comfortable upright position.
In case of an emergency simply press pause and follow the links to SCU international. All information is for your convenience and safety. And if we can be of anymore assistance, please contact an SCU international representative. Again welcome aboard the SCU international pre-departure guide.
Hi I'm Simon a second year media student right here at Southern Cross and I was went on exchange to America and this is my story.
On exchange I did things I never thought I would ever do. I went to Hawaii and learnt to surf. I then went to Vancouver and Whistler and then I hired a car and drove down the west coast of America, from Seattle to Vegas. I hiked in the giant forest and tracked through Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, I saw the Grand Canyon!
I made some amazing friends, had lots of laughs and created a truck load of memories. My study in America was wonderful I sat classes on screenwriting, news presenting and a whole lot more. I even went to a sport game for the first time ever!
Everything about the international study experience was more than I ever expected and I wish I could just go back and experience it all again. My exchange really helped me grow as a person, I got to meet new people, I got to live in a different culture and experience new and exciting things. I would highly recommend anyone that's thinking of going on exchange to just, just do it's awesome.
I went to Northern Arizona University in America and I studied media and I got to grow this awesome moustache. So Southern Cross University really helps you get where you need to go and it really is all about is all about you.
G'day my name is Simon. Welcome to Southern Cross University's pre-departure video. Congratulations on being accepted to participate in an overseas study experience. This is a wonderful opportunity to change your life, broaden your connections and add an international experience to your qualifications. This amazing opportunity will enhance your study at Southern Cross while you complete part of your degree at an overseas partner university, combining study with travel and adding an international experience to your qualifications - enabling you to immerse yourself in a different culture and gain invaluable international contacts.
I'll be taking you through some of things you need to know before your international study experience. This video is in three parts, each with a small multiple choice quiz at the end. Some topics we'll be going over are:
Part one - The Nitty Gritty, where we'll look at:
- Passports and visas
- Flights and loans
Part two Health and safety, here we will cover:
- Smart traveller And DFAT registration.
And part three Culture Adjustment here find out about:
- Dealing with culture shock
- LGBTIQ community questions
- And being an SCU ambassador
So let's get started.
The Nitty Gritty
Passports and Visas
Did you know that passports need to be valid for at least 6 months after your return date as some countries won't allow you entry if it's near the expiry? For all international study experience you will need a current passport and student visa.
Passport applications are available from the local Post Office. They cost over two hundred dollars and are valid for 10 years. Don't leave this to the last minute as it usually takes 2-3 weeks from the time you apply until the time you receive your passport.
There is no need to apply for your passport until your acceptance at the overseas institution has been confirmed. It is however, a good idea to ensure that you have a full-certified copy of your birth certificate, which is required for your passport application. You will also need four colour passport- size photographs.
It is your responsibility to check what visas you may require. Do you need more than one if you are travelling before or after your study, or, will you need a work visa?
Visas for America and Spain require an interview at the Consulate in Sydney. Appointments need to be made in advance and often there is a wait of several weeks. Visas cannot be applied for until you have all documentation including your acceptance letter in to your overseas institution and a medical history for proof of vaccinations. It is a good idea and your responsibility to contact embassies and consulates to determine if a visa is required and confirm application details.
Although it might be tempting, we advise that you do not book flights before receiving acceptance from the partner university and/or your visas. This can be risky and not advisable to do so until you have everything all sorted out.
Again don't leave these applications to the last minute as processing times can vary, give yourself plenty of time.
We know that many of you go overseas to travel and have an in-depth experience of the local culture, but don't forget that your studies should be your number one priority. Many of you will have academic issues that come up, so be sure to attend to them promptly.
While you are overseas, you will remain enrolled at SCU, and will continue to accumulate a HECS-HELP debt, (or pay tuition fees to SCU).
Units both overseas and at SCU must be approved by your course coordinator.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your enrolment is completed prior to departure at both your host institution and SCU. This should be done before the start of Southern Cross's semester to avoid a fail for the subjects you're enrolled in.
All fees payable in your absence must be paid by their due date.
If there is a change in your overseas enrolment either before you depart, or while you are overseas, you will need to contact your student advice team and submit a new credit transfer form (with your course coordinator's re-approval). Please keep in mind some classes maybe full or cancelled completely. It's better to be approved for more than you require.
MELINDA: Take it from me, two of my units were already full and I have to re-submit a credit transfer form my advice would be to get approved for as many units as you can.
Flights and Loans
Finance, Converting money and dealing with different currencies can be confusing. We suggest you take travel cards, traveller's cheques, debt and credit cards as these are available from most financial institutions and often the easiest.
TROY : I found travel cards the easiest way to deal with my money while I was overseas, and I got a better exchange rate.
For some SCU students Centrelink benefits maybe available while you study abroad. You need to apply for these in person at a Centrelink office no earlier than 13 weeks beforehand but not later than 6 weeks prior to your departure.
OS help loan will assist in offsetting the cost of your international experience and can be applied for twice, you need to be aware that this loan will be added to your help debt.
AMANDA: There is a six month wait between each time you can apply for the OS help loan, and it's great it just gets added to your HECS debt.
Packing and accommodation
When it comes to packing, pack the essentials but pack light and check what the climate is going to be like at your destination. Check airline regulations as luggage size and weight allowance can vary between airlines.
TROY: I flew with Virgin and United to the states and didn't realize I had to check my baggage in Hawaii, I wish I had double checked before I left.
Your hand luggage should include things like:
- your ticket with evidence of a return
- your host universities letter of acceptance
- your passport
- receipts for all medications and prescriptions. It's a good idea to have your medication close-by in your hand luggage and available when you may need it.
Now don't forget about your accommodation in your host country this is your responsibility it is a good idea to check with your host university before your departure as to what will best suit you on campus or off campus living or have you considered a host family and be sure to ask when check in is. Keep in mind on campus living is in high demand at most universities and your accommodation might not be available right away. If so, you will need to make other arrangements until your situation becomes more permanent.
JOE: I had to stay in a hostel for four days until my accommodation was available, wasn't so bad because I did make some great new friends, but then I got to move into on campus living and it was amazing, and I highly recommend it to everybody.
It is important to keep regular contact with southern cross be sure to check your emails as this is how we will be able to correspond with you.
Now just a few quick questions before we look at the health and safety.
Pre-departure: Part one
Health and safety
Hello again, how did you go with the questions did you know all the answers?
Again there will some more questions so let's get on to part two.
Now you have your passports and visas and you're almost ready to go so let's take a look at health and safety. Please don't take your safety for granted while you are overseas. There are a few things you can do before you leave to make sure you are happy and healthy while you are away. As sometimes things can go wrong and you need to be prepared. Let get started.
Let's get started
You should make an appointment to see your doctor at least three months before you leave home, to get:
- Any immunisations you may need as some vaccinations need time to become effective or require multiple doses.
- A letter from your doctor that describes all of your medical conditions and the medication prescribed along with the generic names of medications.
- Details about the availability of these medications in your host country.
- An adequate supply of prescriptions or the medications you'll need while away you will also need to check what restrictions apply to types and amounts of medication you will be taking.
TROY I had to have six MMR vaccine shots, with a month wait in between each one before I could prove my immunity before going overseas.
You should also have a dental check-up before your departure and bring extra eyeglasses, contact lenses and a copy of your prescription. It's also a good idea to pack a first aid kit, and inform your university abroad's coordinator of any existing health concerns - in an emergency situation it is crucial that this information is readily available.
If you are concerned as to whether having a disability will affect your ability to study abroad, or you are unsure as to how to determine your best host country and university, please contact a staff member at SCU International
As an SCU outbound exchange student you have the option to be covered by the university's official insurance provider, for the duration of your studies overseas, plus seven days on either side of the program, however you need to research the level of cover offered as some exclusions apply. Travel Insurance is your responsibility.
You will not be approved for the SCU exchange experience without sufficient medical insurance. Some partner institutions require you take out their cover. Medical expenses in foreign countries can be expensive.
Comprehensive travel insurance covers you against luggage theft, damage, and health related cover and is available through travel agents and medical benefit funds. It is a good idea to obtain your own health insurance if you intend to travel before or after your study abroad. If you require advice or assistance please contact SCU International.
Please note your host university may require you to purchase additional insurance - some countries and universities will only accept the insurance plans that they specify. You should confirm with your host university about any additional insurance requirements. Again this is your responsibility.
TROY: I travelled a month before study so I got separate travel insurance.
Smart Traveller and DFAT registration
Have you heard about International SOS? This is a travel emergency service offered to all outbound SCU students. International SOS assistance and advice, both pre-trip and while abroad, covers medical, security and travel risk associated with overseas travel and support including assistance and evacuation services.
In Australia, Smartraveller, part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides up-to-date travel advice which you can subscribe to, this allows you to register your travel plans, and also provides links to insurance. Go to www.smartraveller.gov.au or registering with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at dfat.gov.au/travel/visas/pages/visas-for-australians-travelling-overseas.aspx so that:
- The Government can reach you in emergencies
- you Check for safety, health and travel warnings
- log onto DFAT's 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre (CEC)
- Alternative contact to host country Australian Embassy / Consulate.
- Useful contact for family in Australia.
RYAN: I registered with Smartraveller because it was safe and easy and it was a great way for friends and family to know I was safe no matter where in the world I was.
Laws in your host country
We recommend that you learn as much as you can about the laws of your host country and other countries you intend to visit. Remember that you must obey the local laws while overseas.
You should research safety conditions and emergency numbers in your host country before you go. And remember that your safety is important and it's up to you to stay safe:
- Be aware of where you are and who is around
- Stay in groups and away from potential unsafe situations like dark streets or poorly lit parks.
- Ask the locals about what's safe or unsafe in their city
- Familiarize yourself with your host university's security or police enforcement and their contact details and emergency numbers
- And don't be afraid to ask for help.
Remember your wellbeing is your responsibility.
MELINDA: Travel can sometimes be dangerous use your common sense and go with your gut, update your Smartraveller regularly and keep in contact with family and friends telling them your travel plans.
For more in-depth information please visit the website for:
- smart traveller smarttraveller.gov.au
- DFAT dfat.gov.au/travel/visas/pages/visas-for-australians-travelling-overseas.aspx
- SCU International scu.edu.au/international
I hope this helps but remember there is a lot more information available.
Please answer the questions before moving onto section three cultural adjustments. See you soon.
Pre-departure: Part two
Welcome back in part three we will go over culture shock, LGBTIQ community questions, tips for single travellers and being an ambassador for SCU.
Let's get started
One thing you can count on your international study experience is it's going to be very different from home and can be a big adjustment. You might be overwhelmed when you arrive so look out for culture shock.
Even if you may have travelled, and or lived overseas before, cultural adjustment is an inevitable part of your experience. It may disguise itself as frustration or annoyance and can happen the day you arrive or three weeks into your program, but it can be harnessed into a positive opportunity to grow and learn from the local culture.
Before you go research aspects of your host country such as climate, public transportation, accommodation types and cost of living so when you arrive overseas you will know what to expect.
Here are a few tips to help you combat culture shock if it creeps up on you:
- Be present at orientation at your host university and ask lots of questions.
- Get a mate - make friends with a local as they can be your cultural 'tour guide'.
- It's OK to have Aussie friends overseas, as you are going through similar experiences.
- Be a tourist - when you are feeling down, make a point of leaving the house and discovering something new, learn the transport system and how to get around.
- Do something familiar - comforts of home from time to time can make you feel better.
- Journal or blog - if you are feeling really down try writing your feelings down in a journal before blogging and potentially offending your new local pals.
- Contact SCU international - many of us have lived, studied and travelled overseas before and have experience with getting through the culture shock blues.
- Communication - Stay in touch, Skype, journal/blog, email - Monitor your SCU email address - alternatively forward your SCU email to a preferred address.
BELINDA: It's important to stay in touch with friends, family and SCU. I admit I got homesick and skype and social media helped me stay connected.
Also do you speak the language of your host university or do you need to take a language course to attend, some universities have language units that are compulsory and must be completed before your time abroad.
SHANON: The international study experience really teaches you to become organised, so don't leave everything to the last minute, save yourself the stress.
If you're a part of the LGBTIQ community, have you researched where you are going?
Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students preparing to go on exchange should be aware that social attitudes towards LGBTIQ around the world can be very different from those in Australia. It is highly advised that you prepare well and read up about your destination before you go, particularly if you are planning an exchange to a more socially conservative country. With careful planning and research it is possible for LGBTIQ students to have very successful and rewarding study abroad experiences.
When deciding on which program might be best for you, talk to one of the SCU advisors about potential host countries or universities. Laws or attitudes towards the LGBTIQ community can create potential risks for exchange or study abroad. You might also find other sources of information to be useful such as online resource guidebooks, government resources and local and international LGBTIQ organisations. These can all help with ease culture shock in your host country.
Some questions you might consider:
- What are the laws like regarding LGBTIQ in my host country?
- What are the cultural attitudes towards LGBTIQ in my host country?
- How open can I be about my sexuality/gender identity with my teachers, friends and others?
- What resources are available at my host university? Do they have an LGBTIQ support programs or student groups?
- Are there any LGBTIQ-friendly establishments nearby?
SHANON: I'm glad I check what the LGBTIQ community was like before I went I found so much useful information.
Women travelling alone
What about if you are a woman travelling alone?
A woman travelling on her own may encounter more difficulties than a man by himself. Relations between men and women and the position of genders within society differ significantly around the world. Not all countries value the concept of equality and these views may challenge your own perceptions of gender. Be prepared for varying opinions on gender sexual identity issues. To avoid hassles be flexible, try to fit in and understand the role of that sex in the culture in which you are travelling. Flexibility means observing how the host country's women dress and behave and following their example. What may be appropriate or friendly behaviour and dress standards in Australia may bring you unwanted, or even dangerous, attention in another culture.
Being an ambassador
Remember, you are representing Southern Cross University and Australia while you are overseas so it is important that you are an excellent ambassador. Your successes and struggles directly affect Southern Cross's ability to send future students to exchange programs and create overseas study opportunities. This may seem like an ambiguous concept so here are tips about how to be an excellent global ambassador:
- Respecting financial obligations of your host university/country.
- Fulfil academic responsibilities.
- Understanding the social norms of your host culture including the drinking, gambling and LBGTIQ cultures.
- Volunteering to represent Southern Cross and Australia on your host campus.
- Offering advice to students wishing to study overseas.
RYAN: As an ambassador for SCU I was involved in games, field trips and even a few dinners it was one of the best parts of my international experience.
Well that's it from me however please remember this is a fraction of the information available and what you should know before you embark on your international study experience. Be sure to read up and ask lots of questions. So take care, be safe, and, remember have fun.
See you when you get back. Bye.
SCRIPT AND EDITING
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Pre-departure: Part three
This quiz is an essential part of getting ready for your trip and must be completed by all students participating in an outbound exchange or short-term program.
Passports and Visas
You will need a passport and generally you will need a visa to study and travel abroad. Make sure you check VISA REQUIREMENTS early and also consider other countries you may wish to travel to whilst overseas.
Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for more information.
If you don't have a passport, wait until your acceptance at the overseas institution has been confirmed. In preparation, make sure you have a full certified copy of your birth certificate and four colour passport-size photographs.
Some countries require you to complete your visa online whilst other, like the USA, require you to attend an interview at the Consulate or Embassy. Make sure you take all the necessary documentation include acceptance from your overseas institution in the interview.
If you are undertaking an approved school-led program you will be covered under the University's corporate travel insurance for the program.
Some partner institutions require you take out their cover. You will not be approved for the SCU exchange program without sufficient medical insurance.