Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Studying in Sydney

Gosh, I wanted to put together this post for over a week liao. The exam, work, and day to day stuff has kept me busy. Anyway here it is.

This post is for those of you who are preparing to come over to Sydney for studies. What to prepare, what to bring, what not to bring, what to watch out for... etc. I'm putting down whatever I can recall, given that it took place like over two years ago.

i) You need to get that student visa, of course. The Australian High Commission in Singapore only allows for people to queue for visa application in the morning, i.e. before 12p.m.. For my first visit there, I reached there in the afternoon and was turned back. So I had to go again the next day. Duh.

ii) Be prepared for a long wait at the Australian High Commission. Like 2-3 counters for over a hundred people in the queue. I waited for like 2 hours for my turn.

iii) Make sure you have all the required documents ready. If not you have to come back with them the next day and queue up again!

iv) Make sure you have COPIES of the required documents ready. Because they do not allow people to make copies there, even if you have the money for it! And if you really need to make copies, you can get them done at the British Council next door (5 minutes walk). So save yourself the trouble and just get everything ready beforehand.

v) Do not bring any form of food into Australia. They are very strict on this.

vi) Temporary accommodation here is rather easy to find via the internet. You should be able to get a room for around AU$200 a week.

vii) The cost of living in Sydney is roughly double that of Singapore, WITHOUT taking the exchange rate into account. Food, transport, internet and rent costs are at least double of what we are used to in Singapore.

viii) Renting a whole apartment usually means it is totally unfurnished. But it also means you can pick and choose your housemates. Renting a room usually means it is furnished. But you can't choose your housemates.

ix) Staying in school halls is an alternative. But they tend to be noisy. Similar to the NUS and NTU hostels lah.

x) The bank charges here border on the obscene, e.g. my landlord once gana an AU$2.20 charge for withdrawing AU$20 from an ATM of another bank. That really pissed him off when the bank statement came. His most frequently made bank-related comment is "You have to pay AU$3 for farting on the bank's premises.". However, student bank accounts, e.g. this account, are available where all these charges are waived. The catch is you get near zero interest.

xi) You can get around this by opening a student bank account and link it to an internet bank account. The internet bank is quite popular in Australia although it has only taken off in Singapore recently. The grandfather of all internet accounts here should be this. But now others like this, this and this have appeared. I'm sure there are many more. Internet accounts' interest rates are typically above 5%. So put just enough for daily usage in your student bank account and throw the rest into the internet bank. 5% in Sydney vs 0.125% in Singapore! What I get in interest for one month here far exceeds what I get in one year in Singapore. *Grin*

xii) Get your AU$ changed in Singapore and not in Sydney. Over here, you will gana 10% GST. I think the Arcade, near Raffles Place MRT, offers really competitive rates.

xiii) The winter here is described as "mild". Around 10 degrees in the day and maybe 5 at night is about the worst it can get. Without a wind blowing, it is actually tolerable. But there is often a breeze blowing during winter and it can get really cold. So get yourself a windbreaker. Oh, and don't forget the seasons here are opposite of that in the northern hemisphere.

xiv) Try not to go out alone at night. Actually, just try not to go out at night. I know of many friends or friends of friends who have been robbed or mugged and offices that have been broken into. So much so that I try not to step out of the apartment once it gets dark. Actually, there was even once when my office (shared with a few others) was broken into at night when I was still in the said office! It is relatively safe in the city area at night where you can see people here and there but in the suburbs, it is absolutely deserted. And dark. You can never tell who or what is hiding behind the next corner or tree.

xv) Air tickets are cheaper in Singapore. Even for the same airline. Get return tickets from Singapore so that you never have to buy any tickets from here. Partially because of the exchange rates that currently favour the AU$. Partially because things in Sydney are just expensive.

Akan Datang: Refuge island

191 days to go.


Post a Comment

<< Home