The UNSW Survival Guide
If you missed any of our UNSW Survival Guide Posts on our Facebook page, then don't worry cause we have it all here.
With the new semester creeping closer, it's time we prep ourselves for the ever challenging uni life as we know it. And as the official Malaysian Student Organisation at UNSW, what good would be if we didn't lend a helping hand to our fellow friends. With that, we will be posting a series of top need-to-knows to give you a head start!
And also, we are happy to announce that we are releasing our own updated, near-perfect and amazing FRESHER PACK 2018 for newbies to scheme through. Check it out here and have and enjoyable reading experience :)
On an added note, in conjunction with the UNSW Pre-Departure Briefing of 2020, the representatives of UNSW has light-heartedly share to us the presentation slides briefed on that day. Access them here!
#1 settling accomodation early
EVERY student should settle their accommodation as soon as possible, if you haven't already or once you receive your offer from UNSW! You have the options of university or off-campus accommodation.
For university (which are mainly ON-campus) accommodation, applications usually open around October. They are limited and demand for rooms is sky high, so it’s advisable that you apply ASAP if you really want to stay on campus (however, if the particular accommodation is full, keep in mind that there are usually openings for 2nd semester)!
It’s encouraged to try to live on campus at least once throughout your degree. It’s convenient to walk to class in bed hair, awesome for networking/living with people from everywhere and overall a worry-less option.
Head over to http://www.accommodation.unsw.edu.au/ for all you need to know about university accommodation.
Our surrounding neighbourhoods include Kensington, Kingsford, Maroubra and Randwick.
Alternatively, you can try https://www.facebook.com/groups/Sydney.flatshare/?fref=nf or https://www.facebook.com/groups/278776358905533/ (UNSW Students Rent/Sublet Accommodation).
#2 LEARN THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT ROUTES
For $25 per person, UNSW Student Development International (SDI) will arrange an airport pickup service for newly arriving first years from the international terminal of the Kingsford Smith Airport to the SDI Welcome centre at UNSW’s Kensington (main) campus. This service is available from 13 Feb to 23 Feb (6am-4pm every day). Bookings are required (deadline for booking is 9 Feb).
To get around Sydney on public transportation (train, ferry, bus or light rail), ALL YOU NEED is really an Opal Card. We only qualify for the “Adult” Card, unless you are an Australian PR or citizen then you’d be able to get the “Concession” Card. There are also benefits for people with disabilities. Check out the link below for more info. You can get an Opal card at most convenience stores and even online. One thing we’d like to highlight is that there is a $2.50 Sunday fare cap so travel & sightsee as much as you can on Sundays. Also download Opal Travel app for easy top up and navigation.
Uber → cheaper version of a taxi and the app is super convenient there.
To navigate your way around Sydney (e.g. to know which bus to take), Google Maps and http://www.transportnsw.info/ are the 2 most common resources.The most common bus numbers you will take start with 39- (391, 392, 393, 395, 397 etc.), 400, M10, M50, which brings you back to UNSW. These buses lead directly into Sydney’s CBD, making weekend trips to and from the city a cinch!
3# STUDENT VISA + OSHC!
The Australian Department of Immigration & Border Protection’s website is the place to go for detailed information on student visas. Its Visa Finder will help you identify which visa you are eligible for and whether you can apply online (usually we can & it’s for Student Visa (Subclass 500)).
The typical documents you need to prepare before applying include a copy of your passport, a copy of your identity card, your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE or eCoE), proof of welfare arrangements & accommodation if you’re under 18 years old, health assessment, Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and a certified copy of your academic transcripts. Documentary evidence & visa application fee may vary depending on your type of degree and personal background so be sure to go through the entire Visa Finding process and other website info thoroughly (it’s super helpful and well it’s border protection so cannot play play). You only have to do it properly once. Please note down your Visa Grant Number after you get your visa (it’s important).
With regards to OSHC, it is COMPULSORY. It is a requirement of your student visa that you maintain OSHC for the entire duration of your time on the student visa in Australia. It will help you pay for medical or hospital care you may need and contribute towards an ambulance in an emergency as well as some (or nil) cost of certain prescription medicines. We have a UNSW Clinic on campus and UNSW’s preferred health insurance provider is Medibank. It may be slightly more expensive than other providers. However, in the long run, it’ll save you time and convenience. We have a Medibank centre on campus.
If you have
#4 GO FOR O-WEEK
An absolute must for every new student! This year, UNSW’s legendary Orientation Week runs from 10th - 14th February. We recommend all freshmen to join in the festivities. Here’s a small sampling of what you can expect from O-Week:
1. Games, food stalls, live music and loads of fun activities as the UNSW campus is transformed into a carnival .
2. LOADS of freebies (Soft drinks, stationery, water bottles, USB sticks you name it) *Tip of the day: Go and get your freebies in the morning, the good ones will usually be gone by noon.
3. Over 300 clubs, businesses and societies will have their booths open (including us, so do drop by & say hello )
4. Day & night social events (A great way to kick off your Australian friends list!)
5. Faculty meet & greets (Network with seniors and maybe get some advice)
6. Campus tours (Find out where your classes are. You wouldn't want to be late for your lecture or tutorial on the first week)
We think that there’s no better way to start off your UNSW adventure than with a welcome week to find out how to navigate around campus (the shortcuts, the security, the clinic etc.), read through course outlines and settle down in your accommodation.
For a sneak peek at O-Week, check out this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhpOPRpgDCw
Click attending at https://www.facebook.com/events/195270331593259/ for all updates on O-Week 2020!
#5 GET AN AUSTRALIAN PHONE NUMBER
To eliminate the need for expensive international roaming charges and to stay connected whether or not there is wifi, get a local Australian number.
There's really no one size fits all when it comes to phone plans. It depends on your personal requirements as to local calling, international calling, data consumption etc. So it'd do you good to explore the different packages each provider offers.
However, based on their experience, some of our members have recommended these providers: (1) Vodafone, (2) Vaya (Optus reseller) and (3) Optus.
With regards as to whether to use a postpaid or a prepaid plan. We recommend a prepaid service, particularly if you do come back to Malaysia throughout and after your degree, because you can stop paying for say the 3-month long summer breaks when you're not in Australia. It is also worth noting that international students who are under 18 may not be eligible for postpaid plans unless payment is made by a parent or legal guardian.
Tips of the Day: (1) Remember to bring your Passport if you want to buy your SIM card & phone plan at a physical store. (2) Once you get your personal mobile/home number, you can list it on the ‘Do Not Call Register’ to reduce unsolicited telemarketing calls or faxes.
Important to Remember: Triple Zero (000) is the number you can use to call the police, fire or ambulance in an emergency.
There are also two other emergency service numbers that work with particular technologies:
- 112 – the international standard emergency number, which can be called from a Global System for Mobile Communications type mobile.
- 106 – the text-based emergency number for people who are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, which can be called from a teletypewriter.
#6 BANKING: NO MONEY, NO HONEY
As a student pursuing tertiary education, you have access to a wide range of benefits and perks with your bank account, such as exclusive discounts and additional rewards on a range of banking products, $0 monthly fee on bank accounts, $0 annual fee on student credit cards etc. Do explore each bank’s website to find out about their student banking & what they can offer you.
There are the Big 4 Banks in Australia: ANZ, Westpac, NAB and CBA.
1. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (“CBA”)
2. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (“ANZ”)
3. National Australia Bank Group (“NAB”)
4. Westpac Banking Corporation (“Westpac”)
Also, some sites recommend Citibank for international students, but we’re not really sure of the details.
You can open an account online up to three months before you arrive in Australia. However, once you get to Sydney, you have to visit a local bank branch to prove your identification, waive the monthly account fee and/or to order your Debit/Credit Cards. Identification would include (1) your passport and (2) proof of enrollment (which should have your degree’s start and end dates).
Note that an EFTPOS card can only be used in Australia while Mastercard, Visa, Amex etc. can be used almost anywhere. Also, Debit cards in Australia act as ATM and credit cards. And unlike in Malaysia, you can use yours at most stores for any amount (e.g. $2 chips at IGA ← convenient store) without incurring any surcharges. So, it’s highly encouraged to get one.
From experience of members, we recommend using either (1) CBA or (2) ANZ, as they have their own branches on UNSW’s main campus. Besides that, you’ll also have secure online banking through NetBank Internet Banking and CommBank app for CBA or ANZ Internet Banking and ANZ goMoney app for ANZ. These banks also have a wide network of ATMs (so it'll be free to withdraw $ - if you use another bank's ATM, they'll charge you a fee).
If you don’t want to apply online, most of the banks will occupy booths at UNSW’s Orientation Week so you can visit one or simply head over to a bank branch near you once you touch down - super convenient
#7 TOP 10 THINGS TO BRING TO SYDNEY
Sydney has a vastly different lifestyle, climate and culture when compared to Malaysia so packing the right gear is essential. Here’s our top 10 recommended items to pack for your big journey down under !
1. Essential Documents
Remember to bring alongside a file of these key documents :
a. Photocopy of your passport with student visa (note down the Visa Grant Number)
b. Photocopy of your birth certificate
c. Official UNSW Letter of Offer
d. Electronic confirmation of enrolment (eCoE)
e. Receipts for any payments you’ve made (tuition fees, OSHC health cover etc.)
f. Original/certified copies of academic transcripts
g. Letter of scholarship award (if provided)
h. Supporting documents for any completed studies you want to receive credit for
2. Seasonal clothing
Unlike Malaysia’s endless summer days, Sydney has 4 seasons so it’s important to have a good understanding of Sydney’s temperatures throughout the year. When you arrive in Sydney, it will be the final months of summer so expect temperatures to be relatively sizzling throughout the day (25-35 C) .
In the subsequent months of mid March to May, Sydney enters its fall season with temperatures ranging from 19 C in the daytime to about 13-14 C at night. Light jackets or sweaters are recommended. Sydney approaches the winter season around June, with daytime temperatures averaging at 15 C (with a wind chill factor) and nights reaching as low as 3 C till August. Therefore, it’s recommended that you pack along appropriate winter attire e.g. winter jackets, scarves, beanies and thick sweaters.
From September to November, Sydney goes through spring where temperatures range from a pleasant 13C to 22 C throughout the day. Sydney returns to its summer season in December which lasts till next February, where temperatures average around 26 C but have been often known to soar to 35-36 C making sunscreen and a hat essential.
3. A universal power adapter
Plug points in Sydney are not compatible with Malaysian power sockets. Therefore it’s highly recommended that you purchase a few universal power adapters for your electronic devices prior to your arrival. We also suggest buying a Malaysian power board so that you’ll only need one adapter for all your electronic devices.
4. Raincoat or Sturdy Umbrella
Winds can be notoriously strong in Sydney which can easily break or damage fragile umbrellas on rainy days ⛈. Therefore, it’s recommended that you purchase a raincoat, a waterproof jacket or a super strong umbrella to keep you dry and comfortable on wet days.
5. Sunscreen, Sunglasses and Hat
Sydney is gifted with plenty of cloudless, sunshine filled days throughout the seasons, which also means you’re more prone to possible skin damage due to overexposure from the sun’s harmful rays. Therefore, it’s recommended that you bring along some sunscreen, and to keep yourself protected while you explore many of Sydney’s beautiful beaches , national parks and mountains!
6. UNSW Guidebook
UNSW International has prepared a handy guidebook for all incoming international students to Sydney. We’d highly recommend that you print or download a copy as it’s filled with lots of useful information on places to go around campus, transport options to get to UNSW as well as a list of crucial things that you need to get sorted during your first week at UNSW.
You can get a copy here: http://www.international.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/2016_unsw_student_life.pdf
7. Camera (go pros, selfie sticks etc.)
Sydney is filled with many places to take great photos. Whether you enjoy snapping modern architecture or natural wonders, there’s something for every photographer in Sydney.
Here’s a short list to get you started: http://www.planetware.com/tourist-attr…/sydney-aus-nsw-s.htm
8. Australian Cash
We recommend getting a small amount of Australian cash prior to your arrival. As your Australian bank card may require a few days to process, it’ll make things such as buying food and paying for the bus much easier upon your arrival.
9. Required medication
Be sure to bring along any necessary paperwork and documents for your medication should they require clearance from customs. Also, be wary that large quantities of certain medications are not permitted by Australian immigration so check thoroughly before you depart.
10. Formal wear
Societies and clubs at UNSW often have yearly balls and formal events that require an evening suit or gown so it’s best if you pack one along with you. Formal wear may also be required for job interviews , volunteer opportunities or networking socials, so be sure to pack along several smart dress, shirts and/or pants to look your best!
#8 OFF CAMPUS ACCOMMODATION
1. To start off, know your budget & determine how much you are willing to allocate for accommodation. On average, students pay rent for a single room of roughly AUD 200-350 per week or a shared room (i.e. with roommate) for around AUD 120-200 per week.
2. Consider how far you are willing to travel to university. Walking distance = less to nil transportation costs, but the rooms may be smaller & the rent relatively more expensive. If you’re willing to travel (longer walks, bicycle, bus, uber etc.), you may find nicer and larger rooms further away from campus. Research transportation costs as well because travelling is far from cheap in Sydney (http://www.transportnsw.info/…/tickets-opal-fares/train.page OR https://www.opal.com.au/en/opal-fares/)
Nearest suburbs to UNSW: Kingsford, Kensington, Botany, Randwick. Other nearby suburbs, (~10-15 minutes travel by bus): Eastlakes, Maroubra, Coogee.
3. Identify the type of accommodation you want to rent:
a. Room (in a house/apartment unit with random people)
b. Studio or One-bedroom apartment
c. House (where you rent the whole house & move in with a few friends/ course mates).
4. Do your Research! There should be a minimum of five to ten <5 - 10> accommodation options on your list. This way you’ll have a range of choices, you’ll be able to see rooms of different sizes and know the amenities (e.g. free Wifi, fully furnished kitchen, washing machine, # of bathrooms) and utilities (water & electricity) that may/may not be included in the rent. You’ll also be able to meet different landlords and gauge whether they’re pleasant or nasty and whether you’ll be able to click with them & whether they live near you so that if a problem arises (e.g. plumbing), it'll be easier for them to solve.
5. Start applying early, i.e. NOW xD. Usually, it is best to apply about a month before you need to move in or at least two weeks before classes start.
6. Attend inspections! Show the landlord/agent that you are truly interested and make a good impression, especially if the place is in demand, you could help yourself by minimising the competition. Fill out the application forms (usually the forms are given out during inspections), maybe include “I can pay my rent on time” in there somewhere and submit the forms before the deadline. If you are in Malaysia, we suggest finding friends/relatives to attend the first inspection on your behalf. If not you could stay in temporary accommodation (via the KOALA program (which is only for first years & subject to availability), at a friend’s place, at Malaysian Hall Sydney or in a nearby budget hotel) while you search for accommodation in Sydney.
7. Prepare the required documents (some landlords want you to submit them in pdf form or in physical photocopies when applying, some only require it after offering you the place before signing the contract). These documents may include Student Visa, eCoE, Student ID, Passport, OSHC medical card and proof of income (e.g. letter of sponsorship & your/your parents’ bank statements).
8. Also, always inspect the room/facilities/environment you have chosen before signing anything. Take photos & test everything so that the landlord/housemates can't falsely accuse you of, e.g. faulty electric sockets/ broken door/ chipped furniture. Also find out what are the shared items/ facilities/ appliances and whether you’ll have to chip in for e.g. cleaning the toilet/ hallway or contributing $$ in hiring someone to do so.
9. Read the contract thoroughly (it may or may not include what was advertised). The contract is usually the only legally enforceable document. Make sure you are indeed under a contract. E.g. You don’t want to be unfairly kicked out of the house for whatever or no reason without prior notice. Know what rights you have as a tenant or sub-tenant via http://www.tenants.org.au. Clarify the contract duration, option for contract renewal, method of payment & the number of installments (fortnightly or monthly payments etc.). If you dislike/ cannot accept any of the conditions, sound it out/ negotiate BEFORE you sign anything. It’s really a “speak now or forever hold your peace” kinda thing. You won’t have bargaining power after signing the contract - your AGREEment. Make sure you also do your part & abide by the terms of the contract.
10. If you’re fortunate enough to be offered more than one accommodation, weigh the options (rent $$, room condition, distance, safety - neighbourhood etc.). Choose & get back to them ASAP. Furthermore, most landlords will require you to pay 2-8 weeks rent as a bond when you accept their offer. Bring enough money to pay the deposit.
11. Here are a few links to find accommodation:
Pasar Online Sydney (A Malaysian Community Group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/245157125616711/
UNSW Students Rent/ Sublet Accommodation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/278776358905533/
#9 STAYING HEALTHY AT UNIVERSITY
For many first years, living independently can present itself with a number of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyles. So we’d like to share some of our favourite tips to stay in tip top condition while you’re at UNSW.
1. Get active & play sports
Exercise and sports are often a great way to relieve stress and build your personal connections at the same time. UNSW offers a great gym with lots of facilities which include a wide range of cardio and strength equipment as well as a swimming pool for laps. The gym also offers body combat, yoga and other fitness classes to suit a variety of fitness needs.
TOP TIP: Become a member of the gym for as low as $1 when you sign up during O-Week. The $1 gives you a week trial membership where you can test out the facilities and decide whether you want to commit as a full time member. For more info, go to http://www.unsw-ymca.org.au/
2. Join a society
Football, rugby, ultimate frisbee, hiking or even water skiing, UNSW offers a wide range of sporting clubs both competitive and social where you can get a great workout and make a couple of new friends.
TOP TIP: MSO UNSW also has weekly sports and inter-university sporting events throughout the semester, so you can always find a few people to come together for a great game of captainball, badminton and basketball among other things. Look out for our stall during O-Week and be sure to follow this page for more updates: https://www.facebook.com/MSOUNSW/
3. Eat healthy
While it’s tempting to think that you can live off take away McDonalds & pizzas, studies have shown that a balanced diet often has a range of great benefits which include better performance and improved mood. We recommend this resource to get started: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/…/student-blog-five-st…
TOP TIP: On days where you’re too busy to prepare a meal, why not consider getting a meal delivered? Sydney has a wide range of health food delivery services which deliver fresh, healthy meals right to your doorstep. Here's a few you can check out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/…/meal-delivery-services_n…
4. Work hard and play hard
While we all know its very important to work our hardest at university, we also need to learn to balance our work and play. By de-stressing yourself with a movie, a good book or a weekend trip across Sydney with friends, you'll come back to class on Monday feeling refreshed and ready to take on the week's challenges!
Lots of different clubs and societies (including ours! ;) ) are also jam packed with after school events, weekend activities for every lifestyle and interest as well as trips across Sydney and Australia during the long semester breaks, so there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to make the most of your adventure in Sydney!
TOP TIP: For tips on places to go, things to eat and stuff to do during your free time, why not consider https://www.theurbanlist.com/sydney for tons of great recommendations for your Bucketlist!
5. Get assistance when you need to
Sometimes the pressures of university life can be a bit too overwhelming and there will be times when we may fall sick or get too stressed out over relationships, work or commitments.
In cases of illness, UNSW has a pharmacy in the Quadrangle where you can get any over the counter medication if required. For more serious conditions, you can visit the clinic on campus where you can schedule an appointment with a GP or a specialist. Be aware though that the clinic on campus is very busy and appointments usually require notice a week in advance at least. (Remember to bring your OSHC card with you!) But if your condition is super severe, do voice it out to the receptionist, they may get a doctor or nurse to have a look at you real quick.
TOP TIP: If you become sick after clinic hours, consider contacting the National Home Doctor Service, an after house GP service where you can arrange for a doctor to visit your house. The doctor's fee is usually covered by your OSHC insurance but we recommend visiting https://homedoctor.com.au/ for more information.
There may also be times where you might need to talk to someone about certain issues that you might be facing, in those cases you may want to refer to UNSW's Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for an appointment with a counsellor. If your problems require the assistance of a clinical psychologist, CAPS may refer you to the UNSW Psychology Clinic, where you can get affordable therapy sessions ($20 per session) with a team of final year clinical psychology students.
If you're feeling distressed after clinic office hours, you can contact a number of after hours hotline services that caters to a number of needs. For more information, you can refer here: http://www.arc.unsw.edu.au/help/here-to-hear
#10 TOP TEN THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY
Sydney is a vibrant, colourful city filled with not-to-miss festivals & activities round the year to suit every lifestyle and interest. So we've decided to suggest ten great things to see and do to kick off your explorer Bucketlist!
For recommendations year round on things to eat, see and do, we recommend subscribing to these sites for a wide range of activities and events.
1. Sydney dot com
2. Urban List Sydney
Why not hit the ground running? Sydney has a lot to offer.
A jam packed Saturday could look like this: from a morning stroll at Centennial Park, brunch at Newtown, an afternoon visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, an evening musical at the Capitol Theatre, to watching fireworks at Darling Harbour, enjoying drinks at the Opera Bar and having supper at Pancakes on the Rocks.